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January 08, 2004

The Fragile Connection

The practical question I have for my readers is whether you can recommend a comprehensive, freely accessible concordance site.

The other observation I have, as reductive as it may seem, is that the Web may seem impersonal and mechanical to some, but many of the great resources on the Web are very genuine personifications of their authors.

One of our readers at LII asked us to find out what happened to www.concordance.com, which was one of the most useful and comprehensive concordance sites on the Web.

Our gentle reader quickly wrote back to say he had learned the answer. He had googled references from a librarian who had combined the results of several searches and come to the inevitable conclusion that Mr. Williams had died.

I had expressed my concerns that this was the case. Using the Internet Archive, I found the last version of www.concordance.com, from February 2003, and followed it to a picture of the maintainer. He looked unwell, and 54 is too young to retire. But he looked happy, and his wife of 25 years leaned toward him with a cozy familiarity.

Perhaps his death was sudden; perhaps it was slow. He didn't share his health issues with us. At any rate, following his death, his site apparently lumbered on without its maintainer, quietly deteriorating, until unseen hands decommissioned it.

www.concordance.com was the kind of hobbyist site I love to use in training, as an exception that proves the rule. It was extensive, well-maintained, useful, and accurate. On his site, he informed us that "he worked over 20 years as an Actuary, and eventually wrote major computer programs in Fortran, C, and other computer languages to do actuarial valuations and other utilities." His career sounds coolly analytical and formal, and yet his site was interesting, clever, warm, and extremely generous.

Many people used your site, Mr. Williams. Months after your death, months after the links no longer worked, hundreds of sites continued to link to your concordance. We waited for its reappearance until logic and hard facts convinced us it would not return. We now understand the site won't be back, but it's possible that someday, we will see you again.

Posted by kgs at January 8, 2004 11:49 PM

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On this website, please post an alternate site for www.concordance.com.

Posted by: john at February 8, 2004 11:02 AM

I, too, miss concordance.com. I wondered what happened to it over the past months. It was a great site and had so many uses. I have not found anything else like it on the web. Would be grateful to find another site similar to it.

Posted by: Deb at March 10, 2004 12:16 AM

And to think that it's gone...tsk, tsk, tsk. "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone...they paved paradise and put up a parking lot!" - Joni Mitchell, from "Blue"

Posted by: Everette at April 6, 2004 06:22 PM