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Items: Serious but themeless

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A few interesting tidbits at the serious end of the spectrum:

  • Fascinating and powerful stuff about addiction at Addiction Is. I gather that the first page was written by Mark Pilgrim (and then later removed from his site after a run-in with his employer), but I don't know about the authorship of the other pages. (And I'm not sure about the first page; that's just what I've picked up from hints dropped in various places online.)
  • That obliquely led to discovering that the term dopplegoogle refers to another person who has the same name you do (and whose name can be found online). The term doppelgoogle, on the other hand, has been used (once, anyway) to refer to "the cyber-doppelganger that Google generates"; in other words, the collection of online material about you that appears when someone Googles your name. The William Mitchell blog entry that uses that latter term is an interesting one; it notes that the doppelgoogle is a view of one's identity that's constructed by others. It also notes, "I have only one friend who has managed to leave no trace of herself that Google can find"; I'm surprised by that, given that about half the people I Google turn up no results. I think when one interacts mostly with people who are part of the online world, it becomes easy to forget how many people aren't.
  • A spate of interesting articles appeared a couple weeks ago on the subject of who owns your email after death. (See also the Slashdot thread.) It's a difficult question, and one I've had occasion to struggle with myself (having acquired Alex's email archives, and having eventually decided not to read most of them). So much of my life is conducted by email that I hate the thought of all that being thrown away after I die; on the other hand, I receive a lot of very private mail from other people, and if I were to die that wouldn't mean they would want their mail read by whoever's handling my stuff. (As is often the case with this sort of thing, the same problem has always been around for paper mail; but with email, the volume is likely to be higher. Granted I'm an extreme case, but I have over a gigabyte of saved mail, though a lot of that is submissions and mailing lists and other non-personal stuff.) I plan to resolve this conundrum by not dying. Oh, and in case that turns out not to be an option, I recommend following the advice of one of the Slashdotters: "If you want people to have access to your accounts, you had better document the accounts, the passwords, and the access methods for them before you die."

4 Comments

About mail after you die:

My mom is close friends with a fairly famous writer who is getting pretty old. He has made an agreement with some university library that they will archive his papers after he dies. As part of this agreement, if I recall correctly, he asked all of his regular correspondents to sign release forms saying that the letters they had sent him could be included in these archives. I believe my mom refused to sign; many of those letters are quite personal and she didn't want them accessible to scholars and whatnot.

Legally this is correct, of course: copyright is retained by the author of the mail, not the receiver. You have a right to read emails that Alex received from other people, if you choose to, but you don't have a legal right, for example, to post those emails on a website without permission from the various authors. If I'm understanding the law correctly.

Seems to me that your executors might well want and deserve access to the emails that _you_ wrote, but perhaps not the emails you received.


"Addiction Is" is definitely Pilgrim's. I remember reading it on his site before he had to take it down.


I just happened across this old entry, and saw

about half the people I Google turn up no results

I wonder when that stopped being true (assuming that it did, at some point—I certainly think most of the people I search for turn up results that are about them, unless I get tired of wading through false positives.

Thanks,
-V.


(Belated thanks to Jacob and Stephanie for their comments.)

V: I would say the proportion is much less than half these days, but I do still pretty frequently fail to find info about various people, including some of my high school friends.


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