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Re: CHAT: facing your own mortality (as a conlanger)

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Friday, June 27, 2008, 14:42
On Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 9:04 AM, Carsten Becker <carbeck@...> wrote:
> Matahaniya ang Rick Harrison <rick@...>: > >> If you have web pages that you want to stay online after >> you can no longer pay the hosting bill, what options are >> available? The Wayback Machine at doesn't >> catch everything and it might not be around forever. > > Well, I am only *21* and I have given this a small thought ...
I'm 35, but I have cystic fibrosis, and I have given this some thought. I haven't worked out implementation details yet, but I think the best bet might be to put contact information for your online friends and the online fora you are active in among your last-will-and-testament materials, along with the password(s) needed to post there under your name; then ask your executor to post a notice of your death to those fora and email said notice to your online friends, along with your net-will, which should probably either release your public online writings into the public domain, or at least into Creative Commons, and give people permission/encouragement to mirror the material they care about before your estate stops paying your ISP's hosting bills after such-and-such a date. Even better might be to CC or PD-release your online works well before you die, and put a "mirroring allowed and encouraged" notice on the main page of your site or at the foot of every page. I say "better" in the sense of more likely to ensure the survival of your works in case your executor isn't able or willing to do all you ask them to, or in case nobody steps up to mirror things in the limited time window that they're willing to keep paying the ISP bills out of your estate. But not necessarily better in every respect; depending on the license chosen, you might wind up with a lot of outdated mirrors or derivative works you don't like, some of which might get higher pagerank than your own original site... It's possible people are already mirroring or partly mirroring your conlang website without permission; but I suspect sites like that are less likely to stick around than I realized recently that of all the Google hits for "gjâ-zym-byn", more than half are from advertising sites that have scraped a paragraph here and a paragraph there from my gzb main index page, and linked them back to the main page, along with similar samples from dozens of other sites, for instance: I am not sure why these advertising sites focus so heavily on Esperanto content.
> I guess > indeed the safest bet would be: > >> The conlangers of ancient times published their ideas in >> books > > I'm not intending to get published, but once your language is in a stable > state and you've written a comprehensive grammar and dictionary, why not > print that out and have it bound as a hardcover book? Gilding and manual > thread stitching aren't obligatory, but however a hardcover binding looks > more professional than just a print-out that's held together with a paper > clip or a ring folder ...
That would be nice. Maybe I'll learn bookbinding after I retire. Or rewrite the gzb grammar in gzb and inscribe it in my handwritten orthography in a fine blank book.
> On the other hand, books are thrown away pretty > quickly,
Not in my family, generally speaking. They might get traded to a used bookstore or given to a thrift store, but thrown away? Not unless they've already been irreparably damaged by mildew.
>and why keep grand-dad's weird languagey stuff anyway? :-\ Maybe
Good question. I suspect most of my gzb handwritten materials will last a generation or two because they are mixed up in the same notebooks as my English-language journals, which will be of interest to the people who knew me and will inherit them (most probably my brother; I have no idea who might get them after he dies, hopefully many decades from now). After that? No telling. I still have a bunch of cartoons and other drawings by my great-uncle-by-marriage who died in 1957, 16 years before I was born; after I die my parents or my brother will probably preserve them for a while, and then, who knows? I occasionally have a fantasy that the online gzb materials, and the vast majority of the handwritten materials, will get lost over the years, and then one notebook written mostly or entirely in gzb will turn up in an atttic somewhere and be discovered and hailed as the new Voynich Manuscript... Somebody will analyze it and figure out it's not a cipher for English or any other language they know, and then there will be endless debates about whether it's asemic art, or a hoax, or a conlang, or an obscure natural language in an idiosyncratic script, or what....
> better do invest some money and go for a professionally produced book with > gilded edges and leather binding? When the print-run is just one copy it > should be compartively expensive ... but at least it's something nice to > have when you or a close family-member is a bibliophile. That should > decrease the probability of throwing it away just like that. > >> Is it arrogant to want some of your ideas to live on >> after you die? > > No, I think everyone strives for self-realization ("Selbstverwirklichung" > ... that should be a loan in English :-P) in some way or another, so it is > natural to wish for something that survives one's self. I guess that's also > why heirlooms exist.
It's a natural impulse to want our creative works to survive us; trying to suppress it entirely would probably be a bad thing -- but we shouldn't let it rule us, because there are other more important things. BTW, Rick, did you file a copy of _Invented Languages #1_ with the Library of Congress? -- Jim Henry Conlang fluency survey -- there's still time to participate before I analyze the results and write the article