the vagaries of modern life

Turns out the author of [Happy] - I Like To Watch is not actually dead (ha ha, joke, don't look at me like that); he just forgot to pay his hosting bills and then skipped the country. Or something like that, anyway.

But it goes to show that the net makes things a bit weird - you can follow someone's web postings enough that, should they suddenly stop, you notice it. After a while with no activity you start wondering what the hell happened; but most of the time you never find out. To the reader there is no difference between the author vanishing without trace and the author just feeling lazy and/or getting out of the house a bit more often.

Years ago, before anyone had heard the term "internet" (or worse "information superhighway"); we had BBSs (that's Bulletin Boards, for you young pups who think explorers Googled for undiscovered destinations). BBSs had discussion groups and an email system that (eventually) reached around the world. On one of these boards, the topic was discussed - what would happen if someone really died? Other users would only know if someone who knew the facts told them about it. Even then, would anyone believe it?

I distinctly remember people pointing out that the replies would be stuff like "ha ha, seriously where are they?", or as sq2 pointed out you'd probably get the succinct "heheheheh". It was the thought of the "heheheheh" response which has stuck with me.

Ultimately the people behind websites will stop updating them. They may lose interest, join a hippie commune with no computers, become unable to pay for hosting or - not to be morbid - they may pass away. So what's going to happen to these sites? Right now, they'll just fade into the digital umbra; become part of the lost data gulfstream and blow away.


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