Digital Death

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I emerge from the shade of my willow tree feeling a little more confident, but as I head back towards the blogging road my attention is distracted by a mirage on the horizon. It moves like a wave and as I move towards it I see the waves are formed of a faceless crowd of ghostly figures.

I approach them and as I get closer the noise of their chatter washes over me. Each individual speaks their own words, but no one answers them. Together the voices seem to rise and fall with the same repeated words. A song on endless repeat. As I strain close to make out the words, suddenly they are silent and a single voice begins to speak.

“Every journey must have an end.” It says in the electronic tones of neither male or female, the voice of the Web.

“Well, I’ve barely started mine.” I reply.

“All journeys will end and not all will see its coming.” The Web says.

I begin to answer, but the voice is gone and replaced again by the chattering figures. Its a puzzle I know the answer to.

Life’s journey ends in death.

The one thing that unites every one of us in the world today.

That means, for those of us now also living large portions of our lives on and through the internet, we will also one day have a digital death. When the big D finally comes to each of us in the digital age, where will the heartbeat of a billion bits and bytes of data that made up our online lives go?

1. Rocking on – the afterlife just got broadband

You can arrange for one message to be delivered on your death or a whole timeline of them. The choice is yours if you’ve got the guts for a bit of posthumous content creation. Details of some of the services are described in this great article from techcitement.com. Not one for the faint hearted, perhaps.

2. Passing on – your accounts

There are a range of websites offering legacy services to manage this for you, but the law is still lagging behind in making this a smooth or easy process for our loved ones. Especially when wishing to keep accounts active. There are some short instructions and links covering services from hotmail, gmail, facebook, linkedin, myspace, twitter and pandora on this blog post from 2011 at willaustin.net

In most cases, the grim reaper will probably come quite unexpected and whilst people generally have made arrangements for how their life’s accumulated possessions will be managed. How many of us can say we’ve considered what will happen to our digital legacies.

The Web moves on oblivious to the ghosts walking its lands. They play out their last click, upload or half written post suspended in time. I see now their translucent skin etched with all the these hundreds of interactions that fill a digital life waiting to be claimed.

They hang together like an echo that doesn’t know the voice is gone.

Quest Objective:  Join the orderly queue into the digital afterlife

 

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