I've had a website for quite some time, and a blog since January, 2010. I look upon my blog as a sort of autobiography to be left to my descendents and the descendents of my extended family. But as a bonus, when people search on the web and one of my pages turns up among the results, having a website has brought me some unexpected connections.
One of these occurred in May, 2008, when a Pakistani student pursuing a Master of Science degree from the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore wrote me. While doing Internet research for a class project, he came across my web pages on the Fibonacci Code, a code that can be used as a bar code or as a self-clocking data communications code, which I had co-developed while at Kronos, Incorporated. He e-mailed me some questions about it, and I replied. This started an exchange of e-mails that has now continued intermittently for almost five and a half years.
My web pages on Camp Robinson Crusoe have put me in touch with quite a few ex-campers. Camp Robinson Crusoe (abbreviated "CRC") was a summer camp I attended that was influential in my life - so influential that it rates its own keyword on my blog. If you start at the Keyword list and click on *CAMP, and then click on *CAMP again in the footer of the blog entries that pop up, you'll see all the entries that relate to the camp in some way.
In 1999, there was a reunion of former campers. It was held on the site of Camp Taconic in the Massachusetts Berkshire Mountains (CRC having closed in 1970). I took photos at the reunion with a conventional 35mm film camera. I dropped off the film to be developed on the way back home from the reunion, and ordered the photos to be scanned onto a CD-ROM. I picked them up and posted them on my website the next day.
All my camp pages reside in a sub-directory ("folder") called "CRC99ph", short for "Camp Robinson Crusoe 1999 photos". This is because I initially thought that theses photos would be the only thing I would put up on these pages. But since then, my CRC pages have grown helter-skelter, as I added additional material from time to time. In 2011, I added content from a page on the camp being supported by ex-camper Donna Lewis. The camp pages have thus become rather extensive. In April, 2014, I bought the URL camprobinsoncrusoe.org, to make it easier for people to find the pages.
Numerous former campers searching on the camp name have come across them over the years, and have contacted me (my e-mail address is available on the site). I've added them to my list of ex-campers, and sometimes put them in touch with other camp friends. Thus my web site has brought many people together who might not otherwise have gotten in touch. There's now a Camp Robinson Crusoe Facebook page, and ex-campers communicate there as well. You don't need to be a member of it to see it - just click on that link.
My latest CRC contact was initiated by a non-camper who came across my CRC web pages, and it's rather interesting. Out of the blue, I got an e-mail message that said:
I had contact information for Andy Greene and his sister Ellen on our CRC list, although the e-mail addresses may have dated back to 1999, and I wasn't sure they would still be valid. Furthermore, Andy's address was at a university in France. Nevertheless, I forwarded the message to the addresses I had. Both replied, and Andy wrote:
Andy then further offered to pay the price of having acquired the item at the flea market, plus the cost of sending it on to his sister Ellen in New Jersey (USA). Thus was another interesting connection facilitated by my having a website.
And here's another: I recently received a message from a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania woman who had done a web search on the two words "Krakauer" and "Tannersville". She noted that her mother (whose name she gave me) ...
She had found my pages in her search because my family also used to spend summers at my great-grandfather Philip's estate in Tannersville, New York. Thus a few of my blog entries contain both the words she had searched on. Note 2
So the writer of the message was a second-cousin, and Philip was our common ancestor. Our grandparents were siblings, and our parents first cousins. I've put her in touch with others in my extended family, and messages, photos, and memories have been exchanged.
This was not the first time that a previously unknown relative had come across my web pages and contacted me. In December of 2011, I was contacted by an attorney in New York who is the son of a second cousin of mine, hence a "second cousin once removed". He sent along some wonderful photos of Philip Krakauer and his extended family, as well as scanned newspaper clippings and other such material. The photos have now been posted in my blog entry entitled Philip.
Finally, I'll mention another portion of my site that has attracted some e-mail. Back in 2006, when the logical puzzle "Sudoku" began to be popular, just for amusement I wrote an Excel spreadsheet to do some of the mindless constraint propagation that is necessary to solve a puzzle. Calling myself "Sudoku Larry", I posted some musings on Sudoku on my web site, and made the spreadsheet available for anyone to download.
In November 2006, I bought a book called The Sudoku Code, by Francis Heaney and Frank Longo (a thumbnail of the cover can be seen to the left). This book contains 200 Sudoku puzzles, half of which are actually "Wordoku" puzzles, in which the nine symbols used are letters, rather than numbers. As you solve these puzzles, you slowly build up a sentence which is a clue to the final solution of the mystery in the book.
Although by that point I had done so many Sudoku puzzles that I was beginning to get tired of them, this book was strangely addictive. As the clue to the final solution gradually unrolled, I found myself very curious about what was going to come next. There were various twists and turns as the clue was revealed - it was very cleverly written. To help me do the Wordoku puzzles, I altered a version of my spreadsheet to allow me to enter a puzzle using letters instead of numbers. I added a page about the book to my site, being careful to not give away the solution to the book's mystery (you can download the Wordoku spreadsheet from a link on that page).
Over the years, quite a few people have written to comment on my Sudoku pages, my Sudoku and Wordoku spreadsheets, and my comments on the book. In particular, I heard from some people who had gotten into trouble solving the book's mystery. They searched on the book's title, found my web pages on the subject, and sometimes asked me for help. I generally obliged them with a hint or two, or noted where they had made some error. I think the Sudoku craze has now mostly passed, and I hear much less about it, although Sudoku puzzles still appear in the Boston Globe, and I still do them from time to time.
Maintaining my web pages takes me a great deal of time, particularly the blog, to which I add an entry once a week. But it's also attracted a lot of comments, and introduced me to a few new people, including members of my extended family. Hearing from people keeps me going. Write me!
Note 1: I debated whether to write "website" or "web site". On a Google search, "website" gave 4.23 billion hits, while "web site" gave only 636 million, so one word it is. The topic of English compound nouns is rather interesting in itself, and I'll no doubt write a blog entry on the subject some day. I think the widespread popular use of the computer is encouraging more and more of these, pulling English back towards its Germanic roots (the Germans write "Küchenuhr" where we write "kitchen clock"). [return to text]
Note 2: Actually, quite a few of my entries contain both those words. As of this writing, they are Grandpa's first flight, Oldthink, Horseradish, Tracks, and a subpage called Bio of Abe at 90. [return to text]