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?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


It was the tradition for many centuries for death masks to be made of monarchs, artists and politicians in the time directly after their demise.

One of the most extensive on-line sites on deathmasks is Undying Faces. Well worth a look.
Here, from that site, is a gerat shot of a death mask in progress...

Death Mask
“New York circa 1908. Making a plaster death mask. View full size. 8×10 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress.” 
Credit for this and many excellent historical photos, visit:

Here are some deathmasks of some famous Soviet personalities by sculptor Sergei Merkulov.

Death Masks of the Famous Soviet People

Above: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (22 April 1870 – 21 January 1924)

Death Masks of the Famous Soviet People

The sister of Lenin.

Death Masks of the Famous Soviet People

Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife.

Death Masks of the Famous Soviet People

Chkalov, the famous Soviet aviator.

Death Masks of the Famous Soviet People

Gorky, the famous Soviet writer.

Death Masks of the Famous Soviet People

Mayakovsky, the famous Soviet poet.

Death Masks of the Famous Soviet People

Frunze, on of the best Soviet commander-in-chiefs of the civil war (1918—1922).

Death Masks of the Famous Soviet People

Eizeinshtein, the world-wide famous Soviet movie producer.

This YouTube video with music shows many more non-Soviet masks.

Other websites which feature deathmasks include:

Death Masks of the Famous

20 Death Masks Of Famous People

John Dillinger