I'm about halfway into the Selected letters of Jack Kerouac, 1940-1956. I'm currently reading his long, confessional letters to Neal Cassady. A couple of things: Kerouac was a bright guy; even the letters he wrote at age 20 are impressive. I try to think of what I possibly could have written in a letter at that age. Not much. He was also a dreamer. He's constantly telling Cassady of his plans for the future, that they should work together on a ship going around the world, they should move to Mexico or they should live on a farm.
Reading these letters or the letters of Hemingway and Bukowski, Facebook suddenly seems like the silliest thing in the world. Will there one day be Collected e-mails, or Collected Facebook postings? If Facebook had existed then, back in the fifties, would the letters of Kerouac and Cassady be lost, never written? If Facebook broke down one day, I don't think people would automatically start writing each other long letters, but I can't help but think that something is lost when not written down on paper.