As time goes by our “footprint” in this universe (well, on this Earth) may actually be getting stronger thanks to the Internet.
In general, I think it’s fair to say that as time passes, things fade. There are odd and sometimes very remarkable exceptions – such as the discovery of pre-human footprints over a million years old, preserved in rocks in Kenya – but generally speaking entropy rules.
The Internet seems to counter this trend (I say seems, because occasionally the search engines drop pages from their database, which can be a little annoying).
Year by year (and there are exceptions, I know) the Internet records and preserves more and more, rather than less and less, of what we leave behind.
I was reminded of this today when I was looking for something online, and up popped a reference in Google Books – a quote from me, published in a book by Jenna Glatzer in 2003 (there’s currently no iframe support by WordPress for Google Books the way there is for Google Maps, which is a bit of a pain).
I’d almost completely forgotten that Jenna had asked if it would be OK to use the quote (I think it was taken from a comment I made in a mailing list on writing), and I was quite chuffed to even be asked.
The preservation of things by the Internet has its downside, of course. Things you wrote in the heat of the moment during an exchange online back in the 1990s may well come back to haunt you years later. 🙂
I don’t lose sight of the fact that in reality, since this is an electronic medium, there is not the same level of permanence in the record as there is in a rock, which in turn isn’t really that permanent a record (our Sun will eventually destroy even that) but I’ve no doubt someone’s working on a way around that particular obstacle.