Not about everything

December 16, 2012

Documenting my own life

Finally I have found what I have been looking for: a virtual machine with mediawiki installed,  it is here.

As many of us, I have boxes full of unsorted photos from before digital photography, I have boxes full of handwritten letters from before email (yes I am old) and generally I have lots of memories which I think are worthwhile remembering. Well, maybe my children won’t care very much about my memories. But maybe one day they, or their children’s children get interested in genealogy. I did. And I very much would like to have some more information about my great grandparents personal life. Something more then just their date of birth, marriage and death. I wished they left some more documents. But they could hardly write and photography was for a different class in those days.

Maybe someday someone will be lightly interested in my life. Not as much as I am of course. To me – I have to admit –  my life is of quite some importance. And I have done some efforts to materialize my memories. A directory on my computer devoted to my life, a dozen of annotated photo books on the shelf.

So I have been looking for a way to document my life that would be easy for me, easy for others and sort of permanent. Permanent in the sense that in 30 or 100 years people should still have software to open it.  My guess is that HTML is the most permanent format. There is so much  information in HTML available now already, that it will be and remain worthwhile to have programs understanding HTML.

Easy for me means, that is it is easy to expand and easy to change and wikipedia came to my mind. I know that editing in wikipedia isn’t immediately easy, but I have done enough wikipedia edits to be familiar with it. The outcome is HTML. So anyone can easily consume it.  It is not very hard to learn to edit it.  So,  as a benefit, I could allow my wife and children to have an account and also add articles and edit stuff.

Running it in a Virtual Machine is great, because it is easy to duplicate (“fork”),  so every child of mine could get his own copy and share it with his own children. Even in the long run, I think that virtual machines will make sense. Maybe  in 50 years, to run my current vm, it needs a vm in a vm in a vm.  But it sounds like it will be possible. Or maybe people will just have everything in a cloud. Who can predict the future?

I am aware that I might drop a precious idea here. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an online project based on our personal lives, our personal stories and histories that we can write ourselves. We could give relatives and friend permissions to view or even edit certain articles, as they would give to us.  It would result in a vast  network of personal history. Nothing like the neutrality of the wikipedia (nothing against that). Just our own stories and the stories of those who matter(ed) to us.

Anyway, I expect that the wikiproject that I just started will live on for some centuries – given that my “line” doesn’t die out.

So at the end: a big cheerio for the people from BitNami, for providing a virtual machine with MediaWiki pre installed. Because I am simply too lazy (or rather too busy with other things) to make such a thing myself. http://bitnami.org/stack/mediawiki

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