Friday, March 05, 2010

A death in the blogosphere

The blogger known as Jon Swift is dead.

I didn't know him. I've never read him. I'm sure I've seen him referenced here or there, or listed on somebody's blogroll somewhere, but I couldn't tell you where. Possibly some of the people who referenced or linked him in the past are reading this right now - and maybe they're just hearing about this for the first time.

This post on Watergate Summer caught my eye. It pointed to Jon Swift's final blog post, from almost a year ago. Scrolling down the comments you eventually come to this:

mlfcyw said...
I don't know how else to tell you all who love this blog. I am Jon Swift's Mom and I guess I'm going to OUT him. He was Al Weisel, my beloved son. Al was on his way to his father's funeral in VA when he suffered 2 aortic aneurysms, a leaky aortic valve and an aortic artery dissection from his heart to his pelvis. He had 3 major surgeries within 24 hours and sometime during those surgeries also suffered a severe stroke. We, his 2 sisters, his brother, his partner and his best friend since he was 9 years old were with him as he took his last breath. We have all lost a shining start who warmed our hearts, tormented us and made us laugh as he giggled at our pulling something over on us. He passed away on February 27, 2010. My beloved child will live on in so many hearts. I miss him more than I can say. If you are on Facebook, go to organizations and join "Friends of Al Weisel, Unite!" It will give you just a taste of how special he was. Farewell, Jon (Al)

3/02/2010 8:14 AM
This situation underscores several fundamental problems regarding death among bloggers - and in the online world in general. If someone who is known by their pseudonym dies, how will anyone know? ("Jon Swift" was well-enough known that several online news articles about his death can be found by searching for his pseudonym.) And how does such a message get out? In this case it was a comment from his mother. But what if Jon Swift, like many bloggers who have been the targets of spam comments and relentless trolling attacks, had comment moderation enabled - like I do? Would someone be able to get access to his account to approve individual comments, or to turn comment moderation off?

I considered these issues, and proposed a safety measure, in a post I wrote nearly four years ago:

Another Monkey: The Blogger Buddy System

It's not a perfect solution. I tend to blank out on my bricks-and-mortar friends for weeks at a time, on a rotating basis; while I'm away they can assume that I'm attending to other facets of my life, if they are giving any thought to my absence. My blog is actually my most reliable indicator of my continued existence: as long as I can, I will try to stick to a post-a-day schedule. If I ever stop posting for a prolonged period of time without prior explanation, you may safely assume I am dead, or incapacitated.

Rest in peace, Jon Swift. May your blog stand as a record of your thoughts.


1 comment:

kpthriller said...

"Rest in peace, Jon Swift. May your blog stand as a record of your thoughts." I really like the way you worded this. Nicely done.