I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Family Heritage

CNN.com is running a story about a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere that was buried under the lawn of the Tulsa County Courthouse fifty years ago. The car is going to be dug up on June 15 as part of the Oklahoma Centennial. It was placed in some type of crypt, but nobody knows for sure what to expect. Will it be just a bunch of rust or still intact (and worth a pile of money)?

As I thought about that story yesterday, I started thinking about time capsules. They used to be more popular than they are today—or maybe they are just taking a new shape. I did a little surfing and found a post on a blog about an electronic time capsule that Yahoo! put together last year after soliciting things like “personal photos, stories, thoughts, ideas, poems, prayers, home movies, music and art” from the general public. Yahoo! sealed the electronic time capsule and it will not be opened until March 2, 2020. Here’s a link to the site—it shows a countdown in progress.

The Internet has certainly changed the way we live and think. Websites like Future Me allow people to e-mail themselves as far as thirty years into the future. I like the concept, but I’m more intrigued by the idea of e-mailing other people far into the future. Some services even purport to offer to send e-mail after a person is deceased. According to this article, Microsoft is seeking a patent on “immortal computing”—or, in other words, e-mail from the grave.

Some websites, like MyLastEmail already seem to offer it though. Here’s a blurb from their website: “MyLasteMail.com is a unique service whereby you can record your last words, your last message or last wishes to be conveyed to any one you nominate after your death in order to leave your departing messages for your love ones. Your final message will be delivered to the one you wish. After departing, message from the grave can be a great relief to the ones you leave behind.”

I found another site, MyFamilyCapsule, that allows people to upload pictures and videos and it encourages family members to record their activities once a month for future generations to read.

Lots of great ideas—some of them are a little creepy, but I love hearing that people are thinking about the future and technology is certainly helping them. Can you imagine how you would feel if you could log on to a website and read the words of your grandparents and maybe even see videos of them? Well, our grandparents didn’t have much of an opportunity to do that—especially if they passed away more than five years ago, but we are slowly coming to a point when we are running out of excuses for capturing history for future generations.

I honestly don't see all of these websites surviving for the long haul though. Already, websites like Email the Future and Mail to the Future are defunct and websites like Last Wishes are down for maintenance until June 10th. And even if websites like these did indeed stay online, many people aren’t going to have the same e-mail address that far into the future, so many of these messages are never going to be received.

I’d rather download a program like FamilyTreeMaker to my own computer so I can make multiple electronic and paper copies. The final product has a better chance of surviving for a longer period of time in my opinion. What do you think? Are you doing anything to preserve your family’s heritage? If so, what?


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