Offline In 2008

Actually means running two handheld devices connected to two fold-out keyboards using two different wireless data provisions, it seems.

For being “offline,” I seem to be getting a lot of talking done. Must have spent an hour batting emails with Mer Yayanos, talking about a project we’ve been kind of sidling around for ages.
Talking of email, here’s a thing (and here’s where I go into “jabbering at my pet coconut” mode). Jamie Zawinski (jwz) once told me he’s saved all his email. All of it. Every byte he’s ever sent. And that’s a long time — wikipedia the guy. Charlie Stross carries his email archive around with him. His entire email archive. Me? I had about six months’ worth of email on my machine when it went tits-up.

I recall a gag in a magazine, years ago, written by someone afraid of all this computery new stuff. The creature was complaining about, if you like, the deletion of posterity’s stuff. The piece said, what happens to the great author-correspondents in these days? Instead of collected letters of Shaw or Proust or whoever, do we now have to look forward to books like The Collected Emails Of Martin Amis? (Amis has always been a peculiar hate figure for British lit-hacks, a loathing entirely separate from whether or not he’s any good and predicated entirely on the fact that he seems to enjoy his life.)

No-one (or at least no-one human) writes their communications with an eye to later print collection. But it’s interesting to me, suddenly, to realise that my years of correspondence through email have left no trace. I can almost guarantee that the data recovery process on my desktop won’t capture my old email, so, whatever happens, I’ll start Monday (when a backup laptop arrives) with no archive.

I’m not about to start archiving everything in case the world does actually need The Collected Letters Of Warren Ellis. But it’s got me thinking about leaving electronic fingerprints, and life on the internet as a deliberately ephemeral one — or, at least, choosing not to accrete and moving ever forward.

Think I might start using Thunderbird for my mail again, though. It must have gotten better, right?

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