Virtual Life after Death
Peregrine Andrews, BBC News (May 22, 2010)
Last week, May 20th, was the first Digital Death Day, an unconference in California of funeral directors, digital identity professionals, attorneys, technologists, entrepreneurs and obituary enthusiasts to share concerns and probably a few crazy-interesting ideas about managing digital identity after death.
Despite DeathRef being followed by digitaldeathday on May 4th, I have been sucked into the void of Other Responsibilities and neglected to pay attention until, oh, May 20th, as the unconference was actually happening. Bad librarian! Suffice it to say, it looked pretty darn cool. It appears that notes, podcasts and such are still being compiled. We’ll link them once they’re up. In the meantime,
The BBC also gets in on the action, discussing the issue of digital assets such as domain names, sponsored Twitter accounts and virtual property in online games, as well as memorizing at social networking sites:
Doctor Elaine Kasket, a counselling psychologist, has found that a surprising number of messages are written to the deceased as if they are still present and “logging on from some internet cafe in heaven.”
“It’s perhaps the best example so far of continuing bonds after death,” she says.
There is perhaps a better sense of the living person on their remaining Facebook or MySpace page than anywhere else.
It has been suggested that the existence of this online presence after people die, plus the accessibility of online memorials, could draw out the grieving process.
But this may not be a bad thing, says Mark Dunn, a psychotherapist. He believes most of us in the developed world do not grieve for long enough and that the internet “may allow us to learn the mechanics of grieving again.”
Good stuff. As the title suggests, Every Day is Digital Death Day — we’ll keep vigilant for what else emerges from the unconference and, of course, elsewhere on this topic.