At its most basic level, a template (1670, originally templet, ‘little temple’, the form changed in 1844, probably influenced by plate ) looks like this:
By sending you this letter, I accept that the social conventions of language are stronger than whatever I can think of telling you.
Replace XXXX by the name of the person who should receive this letter and YYYY by yours.
Using a template usually means we rely on the most deeply entrenched social conventions to choose the form of the message we want to deliver. Templates usually define for us thin margins of possible variations. These are the holes we are suppose to fill in.
How then to interpret the desire of Kurenniemi to make a digital backup of his life as a template for all human life? At first sight, this proposition sounds worrying. Looking at the digital backup however, there is nothing remotely similar to one would expect from a template. There is hardly anything that looks like a template with predefined holes. Where should this structure come from, then? Should it have been designed by Kurenniemi these last years and was he taken by surprise when he had his stroke? Is the structure absent because of a lack of time? Or is this structure to be sorted through by a quantum computer out of the organic collection of documents copied on the hard drives?
Or should we consider that this very lack of ‘templateness’ is itself a very strong indication of what a template for all human life could be? Should we consider that the always partial, always interrupted connections that exist between these documents, the irregular redundancy, the opportunism of choosing sometimes a format for what is made for and sometimes just for the opposite are clues that suggest where to look when we want to rethink our idea of a structure?
When Kurenniemi presents these documents as a base for a template for human life, does he expect an emerging order to come out of them and be valid universally? Or is he begging us to apprehend an impossible order that couldn’t provide stable connections, and consider this as the necessary first step for anyone who wants to create an archive for any human life?