Original Text of
The Virtual Mausoleum
by M.D. Coverley
published in Orange Coast Magazine and at Orangecoast.com in September, 1995.
When the exhaust fumes settle, 1995 may be the Year of the World Wide Web on the Internet. This year, ordinary home computer users tanked up on Mosaic or Netscape, shifted into Hypertext, and ventured out on the interchange with the experts. Within hours, Newbies were powering up and surging into cyberspace to send mail, buy products, chat with folks around the world, read breaking news, pursue special interests, retrieve information, and ask Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's). With fewer than a dozen mouse-pumps on the gas, student drivers were merging into newsgroups in Africa and shopping for earrings in Boston.
This year, the 40 million Internet users were joined on the WWW (World Wide Web) by customers from Compuserve, Delphi, Prodigy, and, the golden spike, America On-Line. It's a busy, amusing, free-for-all out there. (Depending on the speed of your modem, it may seem less like a superhighway and more like driving in Barcelona.)
The advent of the World Wide Web has hastened two new developments that suggest interesting possibilities for Webizens. One is the presence of commercial enterprises on-line. Whatever you're selling, you can promote it there. Movie producers will let you see elaborate previews of coming attractions. When the recent movie, "Congo," debuted, fans could access a site that showed film clips, gave hypertext character profiles, and included a story synopsis. One browser suggested the Website was better than the movie. Moreover, psychiatrists offer confidential on-line counseling. Dozens of Internet Shopping Malls have appeared. You can even get a personal Tarot Card reading.
The second new sizzle is the Home Page. Anyone with WWW access and a URL (Universally Recognized Locator) address can write and post one. Almost everyone, it seems, has--Icelanders vie with Indonesians for the cleverest mix of ideas and iconography. The directories of Home Pages are already so long they must be downloaded by alphabetical letter. One family has constructed a Home Page for a baby that's on the way.
Innovations spring up daily. Considering the potential, it's inevitable that the energy of individual expression and the open market will soon combine to create The Virtual Mausoleum. It might go something like this:
TO: Martin Smith, Editor
FROM: M.D. Coverley
CC: Readers of Orange Coast Magazine
ATTCH: Demo: The Virtual Mausoleum
SUBJECT: Re: The ETernal Home Page
MESSAGE: You have inquired about the possibility of celebrating the lives of our dearly departed on the Internet. Good News! It can be done. Recent innovations in technology have ensured that family and friends who are no longer with us can maintain a presence in cyberspace--individually enshrined, honored, and interactive.
Our company, The Portal of Thebes, has created the ETernal Home Pages to assist you in all aspects of the on-line memorial.
Just as the Thebes of Egypt is a monument to the people of that era--to their rich and fascinating lives--so our Portals will immortalize our lives and times.
To create the Virtual Mausoleum, we utilize the vibrant, hyper-media features of the World Wide Web. The miracle of the WWW has created a community in every sense, complete with appropriate gardens to pay respect to our absent ones. You can establish a site for deceased family members or friends, visit the mausoleums of others, or begin to compile precious memories of someone you wish to honor. Through the services of The Portal of Thebes, you can create an ETernal Home Page and provide sanctuary for your loved one for posterity--create a Virtual Mausoleum for the ages.
Background: The concept began with the dawn of humankind. The outside of a pyramid is a wonder of mathematical elegance. The inside is the evidence of a dream of immortality. Technology has always been in the service of human wish-fulfillment: tools brought a better quality of life; weapons won territory and brought down game; big stone monuments and ceremonial architecture opened a door to infinity.
From Cheops' Pyramid to Westminster Abbey to the Hollywood Wax Museum, we have utilized technology to perpetuate the memory of the dead so that deeds would be remembered, names not forgotten.
All of this has been good, but not very democratic. Of all the people who lived in the time of King Tut, only a few were able to document their chairs and jewelry, record pictures of their families boating on the Nile. Whether such things were of use in the Other World is not known. The evidences of a life lived, however, are a wonderful personal legacy for those us who follow. Now, through the wonders of the information superhighway and interactive hypermedia, one need not be Rudolph Valentino to be lovingly preserved or U.S. Grant to have a proper tomb.
In order that you may visualize a typical ETernal Home Page, I have provided an example. Although the Alice Wilcox Coverley Memorial is still "under construction", the main outlines are in place. It shows how we, the living, can go about establishing an ETernal Home Page.
THE PORTALS OF THEBES ETERNAL HOME
"Build it and they will come."
(this section goes on color spread pages.)
HOME PAGE OF ALICE WILCOX COVERLEY//
<<headstone--superimposed on photo of 12th Green, Pebble Beach>>
Alice Wilcox Coverley
September 22, 1916 -- March 17, 1987
Beloved Wife and Mother
<<opening of page accompanied by 50-second audio tape clip of "Green Goon Jive" by Benny Goodman>>
Although Alice is now playing on the greens of Heaven, we offer this account of our favorite moments when she was here with us.
<<Click on Icon to enter Mausoleum Niche>>
*First Tee* Biographical Material
# Family History
# Family Tree--Genealogy
*Second Tee* Photo Album
# Childhood in Minnesota (Collection)
# Practicing golf (1931)
# In Berkeley with Tennis Racket (1932)
# On Honeymoon at the Coconut Grove with Dad (1942)
# Mom and me (Collection)
# With Grandsons (Collection)
With Grandsons and Tractor (1970)
Quick-time Movie, Christmas, 1974
On Cruise to Alaska (1981)
# With camel in Morocco (1969)
# Thirty-fifth Wedding Anniversary (1977)
*Third Tee* A Typical Day in the Life
*Fourth Tee* Best Golf Game
# Golf card from Women's City Team Championship # Team Photo (1959)
# Play a round of Golf with Mom on "PGA Golf."
# Visit the Golf Home Page <<http://golf.com/>>
+Women Golfers on the LPGA
*Fifth Tee* Mother's Sun Room
# jewelry box
# favorite outfit
# favorite books
*19th Hole* Messages, Friends, Cosmic Mail, Virtual Flower Basket
<<return to text>>
As you can see, this page is a humble enough tribute to a rich and full life, yet it is supernaturally satisfying. No more the lonely plaque in the grass with only a name to commemorate your dear one; you have established a living tribute where the action is. Many people have confided that they did not know what to do with Dad's '61 Chevy or the souvenirs from Alaska. They worry about having stashed these mementos in the garage, only to be tossed out by progeny or forgotten altogether.
With the advent of the ETernal Home Page, you have the comfort of knowing that each likeness and object will be carefully recorded and retained just as it is today.
Services Offered through Eternity
The caretakers of The Portal of Thebes ETernal Home provide you and your family with perpetual site maintenance. This includes upgrades in hardware and software so your Portal will always be open. In addition, many other services are available.
*Custom-designed Mausoleum Sites: one of the most important advantages of your ETernal Home Page is that of personal expression. The staff will assist you in every step of construction. You can select from a brochure of possible elevations--Romeo and Juliet's Tomb, Gold Pyramid, Vacation in Hawaii, Las Vegas Escape, and Hilltop in Big Sur are favorites.
*Unlimited Rooms: you can elect as many niches or rooms as you please. Firewall available.
*Script and Template: with the easy authoring package, you select the biographical details, photographs, videos, graphics, recordings and other memorabilia you wish to include. Plans range from one page to extended multi-media hypertext links to infinity. You merely request the packet of your choice and supply the information in easy-to-manage categories.
*Obituary: our service representatives can place obituary notices on-line worldwide. To view sample obituary pages, you may consult http://catless.ncl.as.uk/Obituary/memorial.html.
*Floral and Gift Shop: you can instruct our staff to send graphics or photos of flowers and gifts--everything from a dozen yellow roses to a teddy bear--on special days of your choice. The ETernal Gift Shoppe is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Delivery guaranteed.
*Message Services: sympathy cards, important announcements, and eulogies can be found here. Unfortunately, our bandwidth cannot yet download from the Hereafter.
*Guest Book Maintenance: All visitors to the Virtual Mausoleum may sign the Guest Book.
*Seamless Interactivity: You may add interactive features to your mausoleum. You loved one might enjoy a scrabble session with family, a game of chess, or a magazine subscription; former writers can invite visitors to contribute to an interactive story or poem. You can establish links to countless ongoing Web activities. The possibilities are as boundless as your imagination.
*Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. Is it a problem if all the information on the ETernal Home Page isn't true?
Authors of these pages will certainly be as reliable as other biographers or autobiographers.
2. Who would browse the Virtual Mausoleum?
At first, probably friends and family. Later, the pages would be available for historians, sociologists, cultural anthropologists, genealogists, and writers looking for story material.
3. Can monuments be pre-arranged?
Caring, Affordable, Dignified:
Certainly, with all these services you would expect the ETernal Home to be out of reach for many. But this is not so. You can participate in virtual immortality for a fraction of the cost you might expect. Access to the Grounds is free. Customers pay a modest establishment fee, and early subscribers will be able to waive the ETernal Maintenance cost. If you would like more information, please contact The Portal of Thebes/ETernal Home Pages at: <link>......
To view the Alice Wilcox Coverley page, <link>.....
We sincerely hope this information answers many of your questions and encourages you to begin your planning now. The Portal of Thebes welcomes the opportunity to serve you and yours.
Yours very Sincerely,