We write for posterity

The Google Analytics numbers for this blog are dismal. (Hi Mom! Hi Friends!) I think it’s because right now I don’t have much to say that’s both unique and interesting. Partly this is because so much of my life is off limits: I don’t want to talk about the joys & cares of raising a family, and I musn’t talk about the joys & cares of raising a new product. What’s left are comments on the general state of the web, and essays on general topics like this one.

Why write then, and who am I writing for? I write because something inside me compells me to, and because it helps me think to get my ideas down in written form. Who do I write for? From my Analytics numbers it’s clear that I’m writing primarily for search engines (Hi Googlebot!) rather than people. And that’s something interesting to think about: Baring a world-wide disaster or cultural revoloution, what I write today will persist for thousands and probably even millions of years, and will be read countless times by search engines, and only occasionally, if at all, by people.

My words will be torn apart and merged with other web pages from other authors, becoming a mulch out of which new insights will be gleaned. (Hmm, not unlike how my body will be recyled when I die, its atoms used to make new things.)

Perhaps the last time my essay will ever be read by a live human is in some far distant future when some graduate student is writing an essay on early-web-era civilization, and is trying to find out what those poor benighted souls thought of the future. (Hi posterity!)

No doubt my words will be automatically translated from 21st- century English into whatever language wins the world-wide language wars. Perhaps my essay will even be automatically annotated, with a description of who I was, and a best guess at what I looked like, from searching the world’s photo archives. There will be footnotes and links to explain the archaic topics I’m referencing. “Search engine” - they used to store data in seperate computers, and brute-force building the search index. How primitive! How quaint!

And no doubt the grad-student-of-the-future will glance over my words, then move on to the hundreds of other essays on similar themes. (Good luck with your own essay, future-guy!)