What We Leave Behind

What We Leave Behind

So much of the personal history we have for notable figures seems to come from letters. Personal correspondence seems to be a wonderful snapshot of who these people were, or at least, who they wanted to appear to be.

In my life, I think I have written perhaps three actual letters since I stopped writing to my elementary school pen pal. Canada Post’s fear that email is taking over is certainly true in my case. While I may be inclined to send an actual card, for letters, I usually send it through cyberspace. There are many reasons for it, and I seen no indication that my behaviour will change any time soon.

What, then, will be left for the future? Not really looking at what I am leaving, but what the greater world is leaving. Ribbon-wrapped letters, hidden inside tins, inside back closets, are no longer the norm. (Were they ever, really?) People are not likely to print and keep emails, even if they do leave them in the Inbox to be Auto-archived. In the even of a complete format or destruction of the hard-drive, these things are gone.

On the other hand, they do say that once something is on the Internet, it is never really ever gone. Someone, somewhere, has a copy. Even this not-so humble journal appears in the archive of the Wayback Machine, simply because I have no made any attempts to block robots from adding it. Is that the same thing?

Perhaps historians of the future will root through the back closets of the Internet, search the drawers of damaged computers, and raid the private collections of CDs and other data storage devices. In a society continually moving towards a paperless existence, I suppose even those who live in the past will have to adapt, or be left behind.

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