By Steve Outing
The New York Times piece “Hope, Saved on a Laptop” by Dan Barry is one of the most powerful pieces of newspaper writing I’ve encountered in a while. (Unfortunately, you won’t be able to read it from that link unless you are a Times Select paying member. It ran in the print NYT on May 17.) It’s the story of a laptop that was owned by a 9-11 World Trade Center victim, now in the hands of her parents — who didn’t turn it on for a long time to see what was inside.
What was inside were many clues to the type of person that Ann Nelson was. The parents’ slow process of peering inside is both fascinating and poignant. It’s a strong story on its merits alone; Barry’s writing makes it all the more powerful. Good stuff.
The story also points out what many of us realize: Our computers hold so much of our lives — even secrets. My laptop is so important to me that I hesitate to take it out of its dock on my desk when I travel, for fear of something happening to it on the road.