Robin Rendle
• Oakland, California

Inheritance

I imagine reading the blog of my grandmother: What did she do on her thirtieth birthday? How did she feel when she met my mom? What did she struggle with? Who did she love? What did her voice sound like?

The other day Donny Trương asked what would happen to his website in the future:

What will I leave my children when I die? Since I don’t have anything worthy or much money, I haven’t thought about it yet. Yesterday, Đán told me, “When you die, I will read your Visualgui.” I smiled at him and asked, “Will you and Đạo take care of it when I die?” He replied, “Sure, we will take care of it for you.”

I thought about this the other day, too. When I die my website will probably stick around until my bank account stops sending money to Hover or Netlify. I guess my brother might have the login details and could start paying for my domain name but then what? If I ever have kids will they take the keys to this thing?

At some point or another this website, this URL, won’t resolve though. Maybe the Internet Archive will stick around for a while, but then everything is locked within this vast archive.

But if my URL is dead, my website dies with it.

My work shouldn’t be presented in the Smithsonian behind glass or anything, I’m just pointing at this enormous flaw in the architecture of the web itself: you’re renting servers and renting URLs. Nothing is permanent because on the web we don’t really own any space, we’re just borrowing land temporarily.

Donny continues:

Yesterday, Đạo mentioned that he had gone through 400 pages of my blog and read posts that were specifically about our family. He is now in 2009 and only has six more years of materials to read through. Only my own son has that much dedication to my writing and that means the whole world to me.

This is beautiful. I would love to read my father’s notes and thoughts about what he struggled with; what links he found fascinating, what happened during the recession that crippled our family.

This is impossible because the web didn’t exist until he was in his late thirties. So I wonder if the web will exist for my grandchildren? And if so, then will this tragic flaw—the way the web forgets everything because you’re just renting space—destroy my life’s work for them?

In sixty years will my grandchildren read my blog?