Cyber ghost -- your blog after you die

Posted by David Khoirul

cyber and digital ghost Mac TonniesWhat happens to your blog after you die? This question has been an interesting discussion among bloggers, especially after my friend Catur Amrullah, a Bawean writer, asked me last week whether I could find blogs whose owners died. The New York Times magazine revealed Catur's curiosity. I found this nice article written by American journalist Rob Walker of The New York Times this morning on Boingboing.net, a UK-based group blog authored by great writers and journalists like Cory Doctorow and Mark Frauenfelder. Boingboing referred it as a digital ghost.

The story, titled Cyberspace When You're Dead, tells about Mac Tonnies, a blogger and science fiction author who died unexpectedly in 2009. He was 34 years old.

Here's the article from The New York Times:

The last entry on (Mac's blog) Posthuman Blues was titled "Tritptych # 15," a set of three ies, Mac's mother, told me, describing how she and her husband became aware of the swirl of activity attaching to her son's online self. "I had no control over what was being said about him, almost immediately." Dana and Bob Tonnies were close to their only son -- in fact they had coffee with him, in a regular Sunday ritual, the morning before he died -- but they had little contact with his digital self. Sometimes he would show them his online writing, but he had to do so by literally putting his laptop in front of them. The Tonnies did not read blogs. In fact they did not own a computer...

Dana, who told me that her husband now teases her about how much time she spends sending and answering e-mail (a good bit of it coming from her son's online social circle), is presently going through Posthuman Blues, in order, from the beginning. "I still have a year to go," she says. Reading it has been "amazing," she continues -- funny posts, personal posts, poetic posts, angry posts about the state of the world. I ask her if what she is reading seems like a different, or specifically narrow, version of her son. "Oh, no, it's him," she says. "I can hear him when I read it."

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