Eric Mayer

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Abandoned Places
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Years ago I broke into the house I had rented for eight years and recently vacated. It wasn't as bad as it sounds. I'd turned the keys over to the landlord but the place was unoccupied and due to be demolished. I thought I'd forgotten to pack something during the confusion of moving day. (A ceremonial sword, actually, but that's another story...) I knew that the door to the sun porch didn't close properly. The landlord had never fixed it, nor had he replaced the broken latch on the basement window inside the porch. So rather than bothering him about the key I got into the cellar easily as a burglar might have.

It was strange coming up the cellar stairs to find empty rooms. The late afternoon sun coming in through partly closed venetian blinds laid patterns of light and shadow across floors and walls where carpets and paintings had been. Vague patterns in the dust were all that remained of familiar furniture. Upstairs the loose floorboard in the hallway outside the kids' bedrooms creaked more loudly than I remembered. I felt like a trespasser in my own memories.

I always have a similar feeling stepping back into this journal after one of my frequent absences. This time I have an even greater sense of being an intruder in a familiar place grown strange. In less than a year four of my favorite bloggers have died and two others are gravely ill.

The writings of Jim, Rhubarb, Sue and mz. em remain online. If you aren't familiar with them, they are well worth getting to know.

One way of another we will all, eventually, abandon our Internet writings. I suppose they will remain as long as their hosts are functioning, perhaps for longer in the Google cache or via sites like The Wayback Machine. A day will come when everyone who used the Internet in its first decades is gone but their blogs and websites and interactions with one other will linger. More and more of the worldwide web will become a phantom web. Ghosts and the living will mingle, indistinguishably.

I suppose there are technical reasons why phantoms will never overrun the Internet but it seems likely to me that if humanity and the web survive long enough an electronic past will accumulate which is far more alive, immense and accessible than the physical past, the ruins and scraps of writing, to which we have been limited up until now. And as the future continues pile up, all of us are going to be in the layer at the very bottom.

Wonder what sort of fossil I will make?

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