Charles Petzold

Great Writing on the Web

December 11, 2007
Roscoe, N.Y.

In a blog entry about preserving web sites after death, Dave Winer made a very bizarre statement:

Actually, Norman Mailer was alive just a month ago, and he didn't even have a web site. Kurt Vonnegut, who died earlier this year, did have a web site but I can't find anything that he actually wrote for it. And what about prominent authors who are still alive? When was the last time you visited Ever gotten anything worthwhile from Oh — you gotta check out! I suppose has some good information, but not much that Ian McEwan actually wrote, aside from a few links to magazine and newspaper articles. Even doesn't have much actual writing that I can find.

Some contemporary composers have web sites, such as Philip Glass and John Adams but mostly just for informational purposes. Can you imagine Elliot Carter having a web site?

The ephemeral nature of the web is precisely why most writers still prefer publication on paper. (But I haven't done an extensive search for great writing on the web, and as the girl in the story once said, "There's got to be a pony in there somewhere.")

For the record: When I die, I'd like somebody to print out a copy of my essay "Maxwell, Molecules, and Evolution" and put it someplace safe, but pretty much everything else can be deleted (including this).