Recently a friend received an email invitation from an old acquaintance
to connect with him on the networking site LinkedIn.
Only one problem: The acquaintance had been dead for months. In spite
of this, the system, oblivious and unstoppable, had continued to forge
linkages with others. Ghosts affecting the world of the living used
to be the domain of Hollywood romances and schlock horror movies;
now a posthumous connection is as certain as a username and password.
The word "link" has a special resonance for me. Back in 1992, when
hypertext was young, I had the pleasure of taking a hypertext workshop
with the postmodern writer Robert Coover. The act of linking two electronic
documents via a click of the mouse had the tang of
revolution to it. Seven years later, the promise of the hyperlink
had given way to the bureaucracies of dot-com, as I worked as an editor
(read: "web surfer") for LookSmart Ltd.,
dully gathering all useful links that referred to the Spice Girls,
at the mercy of the "Dead Link Checker" which X-ed out our hard work
whenever a site we had catalogued ceased to exist.
A few years ago Christopher and I attended a panel on the future of
magazines at the Juniper Creek Writers Conference in Carson City.
Caught up in the spirit of the moment, I uttered "print magazines"
and "dinosaurs" in the same sentence. No longer would we be solitary
writers holed up in our hovels, existing only via tattered manuscripts
and rejection envelopes. We would form