Why wikipedia is like eternal life

Well not in all respects of course. Sometimes people die. But before I get on to that…

Have you noticed that I haven’t posted much recently? I’ve been on holidays. Wales is very nice, I recommend it. I’ll go again. That is Castell-y-Bere, if you don’t recognise it.

Where was I? Oh yes…

The thing I’m referring to is the way memories fade. There is a wonderful book by KSR called “Icehenge” which you should read, wherein parts of the plot revolve around the way that, although people live for centuries due to strange drugs, they still have the same brains and the same fallible memories trying to store more and more stuff, with the result that people forget their own presence at, and even the interpretation or existence of, important historical events.

And the same thing happens on wikipedia. My most recent example is me and User:BigTimePeace who I had tagged in my mind as one of my many enemies, though I had forgotten why. When I eventually felt moved to complain, it turned out that I had nothing to complain about [1], or if I had I had forgotten what, and couldn’t be bothered to look up the diffs, even though in theory they are available. Part of the lesson may be to keep better records; I’ve made a start at the curse of gnome.

And since this seems as good a place as any: will people start leaving their heirs their gmail passwords in their wills? I now have a large part of my life stored online, I hope it doesn’t die, though I can’t see who would want to wade through it all.

8 thoughts on “Why wikipedia is like eternal life”

  1. > will people start leaving their heirs their …
    > passwords in their wills?

    We need a system for storing some huge unguessable untypable long string somewhere that can be released to transfer the account up on proof of death, or something like that.

    Can you imagine trying to keep your heirs updated every time you change a password?

    But of course Google will continue mining your records forever.

    Heck, Google is probably prepared to offer your heirs access — for a price — to your GoogleGhost. Or else sell your GoogleGhost’s opinions in focus groups to companies that want such.

    You’ve read Source of the Nile, I trust?
    The Sources of the Nile, F&SF Jan 1961, Avram Davidson

    [No; but now I’ll be forced to have a look 😦 -W]

    I think Google has built the equivalent tool for being able to stay out in front of the markets by knowing everything that people are starting to ask about now and will be wanting next week.


  2. William, you are such an arrogant twit. It’s got nothing to do with your scientific POV, which I tend to agree with. It’s all those many. many times you’ve abused your Wiki-powers.

    In fact, you’re so arrogant, I’m going to push for a new subboard on Wikipedia Review, dedicated to your glory.

    [Please do. Can you make sure that you spell my name right, though? It is so hard finding myself when people use one of the many many misspellings, e.g. http://wikipediareview.com/index.php?showtopic=17981&hl=connelley -W]


  3. The longer I’ve been on Wikipedia, the more I have thought about this problem. I come across these names that I recognise, but can’t recall whether it’s because I like them, or dislike them. Then there are these people who I started off thinking badly of, but over time they change into someone I find myself agreeing with. Was I wrong to begin with? Am I wrong now? Or have they just grown up a little? After all, while five years isn’t a long time when you’re my age, it’s a huge chunk of your life when you’re in your teens or twenties…

    As for gmail passwords – after my brother died, my sister took possession of his laptop. Given the wonder of saved passwords, I assume she has inherited access to his online life. Which seems only proper, to me.


  4. As for gmail passwords – after my brother died, my sister took possession of his laptop. Given the wonder of saved passwords, I assume she has inherited access to his online life. Which seems only proper


  5. I’ve also often wondered what happens to peoples’ little enclaves of electronic life after they leave this orb. I’m sure most of us would hope the blasted passwords can never be deciphered, lol. Besides work, files of family photos, and calendar dates noted, I would think many use a comp as a less than “open to the public” storage facility. I’m having a special chip implanted in my person so that upon my demise my E-life goes out with a bang, heh.


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