What will be my legacy in 2123?

Thinking about my death is always an interesting thought exercise. :)

I spent the last week away from work, spending some quality time with my wife and the kids. We were camping and our internet was spotty, but I still got to know about WordPress.com’ 100-year plans. I found it thought provoking.

Had I been at work, I would have immediately looked at the project notes published by the team who worked on this. But since I was not at work, I got the chance to reflect on the idea on my own.

This is a long post. Little disclaimer, I work at Automattic. I should also mention that my idea of legacy is tied to my family. Legacy may mean something entirely different to you.

What’s in the plan?

I first looked at the price, of course. I imagine that’s what a lot of people did. $38,000 is a lot of money to drop at once. I then started breaking it down: the domain name and hosting immediately come to mind, their cost today and in 100 years factoring inflation. But this is really only the tip of the iceberg: I imagine a lot of the value of such a plan would be in adapting to the needs of the web as standards and practices evolve in the next 100 years. Who’s to say domain names will matter in a century? Such a service would evolve to ensure my content remains available, in whatever form will be the standard 100 years from now. At least that is my take from the announcement post:

a stable, flexible, and customized online home that can adapt to whatever changes the future of technology will bring.

Introducing the 100-Year Plan: Secure Your Online Legacy for a Century

What should really be my legacy?

This got me thinking about what that content should be. What should be my legacy? Maybe that’s really the takeaway from this post. As Matt Mullenweg (CEO of Automattic) puts it in his own post,

I hope it gets people and other companies thinking about the long term.

One hundy

I have published many blog posts, and posted thousands of pictures on our family blog over the past 17 years. That’s something I’d like to save. I also know that’s something my wife would struggle to maintain if I were to die tomorrow.

That’s what I get for deciding to set up a multisite network all those years ago. I also picked domain TLDs that may not be as future-proof as a .com. I use a mix of .com, .hu (who’s to say Hungary will have the same requirements to register a .hu TLD in a century, or even still be a country in 100 years?), and even .bzh (will this regional TLD stay around for the next 10, 30, 50 years? Will renewal prices change to a point where it’s not worth keeping the domains?).

Beyond the technicalities though, I wouldn’t want my wife or kids to have to worry about domain registrars, hosting providers, disk space, software updates, … This is where a managed solution would be handy. My website and its contents would remain available, no matter what.

That is still too technical. Should my legacy even be a website?

Do I need an online legacy?

There are 2 things I’d like to pass along to my kids and the people who will remain when I’m gone: knowledge and memories. Knowledge through experiments, experiences, stories ; memories through stories, pictures.

I’d like my kids to remember the smell of  melted butter and chocolate powder on waffles on a cold and sunny Sunday brunch at home.

I’d like my great grand kids to know how to launch a kite on the beach, without any help.

I want people to remember my grandmother’s buckwheat pancakes, eaten in a chipped ceramic bowl full of buttermilk.

A blog is a great way to pass that on. Write stories, share recipes, post pictures, … This is exactly what a personal blog is all about. 

That’s not the only way to pass that on though. And it sure does not seem like the safest way to store that information today.

A Photo Album is worth a thousand blog posts

Is that how the saying should go?

For a few years now, my wife and I compile and print a photo album at the end of each year. It’s not an easy exercise to filter down a whole year of pictures into a few pages, but it’s worth it. It’s a good way to reflect on the year, those albums are always by the hand, and will stick around. In fact, we print multiple copies and offer them to our parents. The truth is, we’ll most likely get those copies back when our parents pass, and our kids will each get a copy that way. Gloomy, I know. It’s the most likely outcome though.

Maybe this is the best way for me to save those pictures. Books may be a safer alternative (as long as you go with quality prints and avoid things like Google Photos albums, which will lose their colors after a few years).

Ton Zijlstra suggested publishing and submitting a book to your national library. It sounds like the best idea, but I wouldn’t want to publish my family pictures :)

If it weren’t for videos, I think I’d bet on books and photo albums as a way to build myself a legacy.

What about the family’s most viewed Tiktoks?

Is that the future of home videos?

That leaves videos. Those matter too. You only have to look at folks that make a living digitizing old home movies from various “vintage” formats like Super 8, Betacam, VHS. Imagine the mess in 100 years! Most / all major online video services will probably be long gone, and with them years of memories.

Offline storage may not be much better. It’s only going to be harder and harder to find CD and DVD players, computers that support old ports, old storage formats, old file formats, old codecs. Unless a video is kept on an up to date support, it may just be unreadable in 100 years.

Maybe a long-term managed plan really is the best solution there?

Only time will tell I suppose. For now, I’ll keep blogging. I will, however, aim to make it easier for someone else to maintain access to that data after I’m gone. Beyond just leaving a list of credentials to my wife, I need to plan for easy maintenance and download of the data. That should be an interesting new side-project! :)

If you’re still here reading my ramblings, let me know what you think!

3 replies on “What will be my legacy in 2123?”

Havasi Lászlóné says:

Szuper Vagy!

Dan says:

I like that yearly photo album idea, might have to start doing that! Do you use a service to print the books, or just print individual photos and put them in an album yourselves?

Jeremy says:

I use CEWE, I’ve been happy with the quality of the service, and the quality of the books themselves. They have different formats and options, and we’ve been happy with everything we’ve tried so far. They have their own software to put the album together, which is okay once you get the hang of it.

Here is a sample of some of our family albums :)

Photo albums

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