Edmund Gordon used letters, notes and journal entries to write Angela Carter’s biography, he says in his essay Biography in the Twitter Age. But when it comes to newer authors, what resources will a biographer use? Texts, whatsapp messages, fb posts, tweets?
“The biographers of twenty-first century authors will have to examine their subjects’ emails, tweets and blogs for clues to their inner life – which on the face of it, doesn’t sound at all promising. Emails tend to be much shorter and more utilitarian than letters, and to lack any real flights of descriptive or rhetorical writing. Blogs and tweets replace the hushed self-reflection of the journal with the noisy self-promotion of public utterance. What’s more, the biographer of the future will have to sort through millions of these squibs once they’ve gained access to the right server: we’ll be able to tell exactly where an author was, and exactly what they were doing, on almost every day of their adult life – but we’ll have a much poorer sense of what they thought about it all.”
Looks like the story of one’s life is harder to tell if there are far too many digital footprints.