Thursday, September 30, 2010

Digital Death

On May 20th, 2010, it was the first Digital Death Day. A conference was held in California to look at the problems associated with our digital identity once we die. What happens to all of our digital data, internet presence, personal blogs, tweets, etc. once we are gone? Where does it end up? How long does it survive without our continuing on-line presence. A website that addresses many of these questions and more is The Digital Beyond. Here we can read editorials and discussions of how our digital identity will be archived, memorialized, or deleted, depending on the context or site. What about our photos, videos, blog entries? Our PayPal, e-mail, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Second Life, and WorldofWarcraft presences? Does our social networking page survive after our death? Does it continue to send out announcements? Accept comments?

Historically we have always been able to read the journals and diaries of long dead ancestors; but have we made it impossible for our great-grandchildren to read our musings, look at our photographs, or listen to our voices by the obsolescence of an ever-evolving internet? In Life After Death, in Digital Form, Robert Roper discusses these issues at Obit. There are huge philosophical and social questions that arise when we consider our personal on-line documents and who should have access to them. Does our family need to continue getting reminders or e-mails as if we were still sending tweets? Does our Facebook page need to continue accepting posts from friends and sending updates as to our non-activity?

Another article which looks at this issue is BBC News: Virtual Life after Death.

I have no intention of addressing this issue here, as there are many others who have posted more informed views on this topic. But it is never too late to start thinking about what YOU would want done with your links, passwords, accounts, blogs, slide-shows and portfolios, etc.  Why die twice?

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