Jay Lake, on blogging your own death


Simon Owens writes, "I got a chance to interview Jay Lake extensively not long before his death and wrote a long profile on him and his cancer blogging that explores the impact he's had, both on the cancer and science fiction communities. He spoke extensively on what he hoped his legacy would be and how he'd be remembered after he died."

The last time I spoke to Lake, sometime in late 2013, I asked him about whether he had considered the legacy he'd leave behind. "I probably think about that more than's good for me," he replied. There was the financial legacy he hoped to leave behind for his daughter, who is still a teenager, and also his literary legacy, both in the form of his fiction and his cancer writing.

"Twenty or 30 years from now nobody will remember me except my friends, but that's OK. In the end, you're only remembered for what you leave behind, and what you leave behind are your children and the memories of you from the people who knew you."

With such a long runway before him, Lake had the luxury of time when it came to considering how his cancer writing and online footprint would be preserved. He worked closely with Lynne Thomas, an Illinois-based librarian who has been collecting the papers of deceased science-fiction and fantasy authors since 2004, to ensure that all his blog posts and essays would be saved for posterity. Though this is a relatively uncomplicated task for his blog content, which he unambiguously owned, it gets problematic when you wade into the legal rights of preserving your social media presence.

"You can't just download Facebook content into an archive," he explained. "My Facebook and Twitter feeds only arguably belong to me given the terms of service in play. Who owns that content after a person dies is a complicated question. It's a lot more complicated question than most of us realize."

The legacy of Jay Lake, the novelist who blogged his own death

(Image: ©2009 Mari Kurisato)