Wednesday, January 08, 2014


Much of the country has been in the grip of record low temperatures thanks
to the "Polar Vortex" . We've been expressing ourselves on Facebook
and Twitter, complaining about the cold and snow, and some of us have even
wondered how our ancestors were able to survive in such times without the
luxuries of insulation, electricity, and centralized heating. We tend to think
of our colonial ancestors in that regard, but my Dad's family lived in Maine,
and I think life in a rural 19th century Maine weather couldn't have been
much more comfortable than winters in 17th century Plymouth County, Ma.
Of course, I don't know for sure how my Maine ancestors felt about the
harsh winters because, at least in my family, no one left a record behind.
There are no diaries, no letters, no journals.

I was thinking about this tonight. What record will our generation leave behind?
We do everything digitally nowadays. We post on blogs, tweet on Twitter, or update
our Facebook Status. We take pictures with digital cameras and upload them  to
albums on Facebook or put them "in the Cloud". But the way technology advances
lately in leaps and bounds, our digital memorabilia  may someday be lost when
something new comes along to replace the Internet.

So some time in the future your grandchildren or great grandchildren might not
even know about how their ancestors weathered the horrible winter of 2013-2014
or about other family events, because they won't be able to easily access all
the things we put online today. There's a few things we can do to give them
some idea: make prints of photos, and leave a paper account of your life somewhere
it can be found.  I'm planning to use one of the publishing sites to turn some of
my blogposts into a book. I know that runs against the current trend to "declutter"
but sometimes a little clutter is a good thing.

Robert Frost wrote
"Some say the world will end in fire,
 Some say in ice."

If we don't take steps to leave an account behind us, beyond what we put online,
then what we saw and experienced and felt will vanish not in fire or ice,  but
perhaps with a click on DELETE.


Pam Schaffner said...

Great post Bill!

Les said...

Your right on Bill! I need to get back to recording something on a word document and print it out!

John D. Tew said...

Bill: An excellent and important post. I am mentioning this in my Saturday Serendipity post two days from now (when I will actually be out of state at my nephew's wedding). I made my blog into a book after consulting some months ago with Heather Rojo and in addition to my copy I gifted one each to my two sons for Christmas. Get your precious blog into paper-based form ASAP! ;-)