In a blog entry about preserving web sites after death, Dave Winer made a very bizarre statement:
If Shakespeare were alive today, he'd be writing on the web. As would Hemingway or Faulkner, Vonnegut or Mailer, John Lennon or Dylan Thomas, Carl Sandberg or Robert Frost. Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.
Actually, Norman Mailer was alive just a month ago, and he didn't even have a web site. Kurt Vonnegut, who died earlier this year, did have a web site but I can't find anything that he actually wrote for it. And what about prominent authors who are still alive? When was the last time you visited philiproth.com? Ever gotten anything worthwhile from johnupdike.com? Oh — you gotta check out joycecaroloates.com! I suppose ianmcewan.com has some good information, but not much that Ian McEwan actually wrote, aside from a few links to magazine and newspaper articles. Even stephenking.com doesn't have much actual writing that I can find.
Some contemporary composers have web sites, such as Philip Glass and John Adams but mostly just for informational purposes. Can you imagine Elliot Carter having a web site?
The ephemeral nature of the web is precisely why most writers still prefer publication on paper. (But I haven't done an extensive search for great writing on the web, and as the girl in the story once said, "There's got to be a pony in there somewhere.")
For the record: When I die, I'd like somebody to print out a copy of my essay "Maxwell, Molecules, and Evolution" and put it someplace safe, but pretty much everything else can be deleted (including this).