Memorial Web sites pay tribute to people, places and projects

Just as
tombstones mark graves, Web pages can serve as electronic memorials to things and people
of the past.


The idea works well because interested visitors need not travel to see the memorials
and the creators need not erect costly physical structures. On the downside, such online
remembrances are sometimes slanted toward a particular political view.


Government Web surfers might find the following memorials worth a visit. I’d like
to hear of other such sites for a future column.


If your agency has hardware or software from the late, great Digital Equipment Corp.,
or if you admire the Digital engineers’ lasting legacy in the computer world, visit
the DEC memorial site at http://www3.sympatico.ca/n.rieck/links/dec_memorial_site.html.


The message here is plain: It doesn’t matter how technically great products are;
poor marketing or poor management can doom them. Look at the chip history pointers and
lists of business decisions that shed light on how things went wrong for the Maynard,
Mass., computer giant, now part of Compaq Computer Corp.


Several groups have set up Web memorials to victims of the bombing at the Murrah
Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Most such sites are now closed, but information on the
physical memorial to be constructed at the building site appears at http://connections.oklahoman.net/memorial/.
It lists pointers to other remembrance sites.


An online memorial at http://www.ybecker.net/jim/
honors Jim Nitchals, who was instrumental in developing spam-fighting technology.
Nitchals, founder of the Forum for Responsible and Ethical


E-mail, brokered a truce between spam fighters and one of the Internet’s biggest
spammers. When he died this year at age 36, friends set up the memorial. His effort lives
on at http://www.ybecker.net/.


Several online remembrances relate to the Vietnam War and its aftermath. I like the
Vietnam War Internet Project at http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/shwv/link-faq.html
because it tries to cover the full spectrum of experiences. Browse past the first few
paragraphs and you’ll find rich detail, lots of links and a grunt-eye view. Look for
the links to military unit home pages and soldier narratives.


The Officer Down Memorial Page tracks police officers killed in the line of duty. Visit
http://www.odmp.org/. You can fill out forms to add
officer names and remembrances to the list. There’s also a memorial site for
firefighters and medical technicians at http://www.firefighting.com/911/911mem/esmem1e.html.


Sometimes the finest tribute is to continue someone’s work. Before he died in
1996, reporter Robert Hess kept an online list of computer-industry events and parties,
with a heavy Macintosh slant. The Hess events list at http://www.xensei.com/users/ileneh/partylist.html#robert
is still updated by friends during Mac-related shows.


For sheer strangeness, it’s hard to beat


the Kan’non-In Temple site at http://www.kanjizai.com/english/en-index.html,
which relates to a nearly 400-year-old Buddhist temple in Hiroshima, Japan. The site
offers a virtual cemetery where you can set up a memorial to a loved one, complete with
photos. Memorial services are held daily for the virtual residents.


Some memorial links are frivolous, but the idea behind them is solid and worth
consideration by agencies.


A lot of time and effort goes into government research and data collections. But
politics, finances or simple reorganization can put these efforts on the back burner,
never to be heard of again.


It may not be possible to resurrect a great project or idea, but it is possible to let
the world know what it was all about.


If your agency can’t spare space for an online memorial, perhaps an ex-employee
would maintain it on a site elsewhere. As in the Hess effort, someone else may pick up the
ball and run with it. n


Shawn P. McCarthy is a computer journalist, webmaster and Internet programmer for
Cahners Business Information Inc. E-mail him at smccarthy@cahners.com.

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