John and I make no bones about how we came to start a blog about the digital afterlife. We pitched the idea for a panel talking about this for the 2009 SXSW Interactive Festival. After its selection as a core conversation, we devoted ourselves to study the topic in preparation for the event. The response at SXSW 09 was overwhelmingly positive, with a heated, hour-long discussion amongst attendees. Shortly thereafter (likely by coincidence and not causality) a deluge of services came about promising to help individuals deal with digital death and afterlife. In response, we created this blog and started preparations for SXSW 2010. Now that the panel submissions are closed, I’ll share with you our proposal.
Become Immortal, Understanding the Digital Afterlife
When you leave the mortal world, your identity will ascend into the cloud. But the complications of digital preservation pose serious questions. Our panel of legal, technical and cultural experts will discuss the control, format and sustainability of the digital beyond.
Here are the questions we plan to address:
- Does the past have value? Should we make an effort to preserve it?
- Is it too old school to die and be dead?
- With the onset of widespread preservation, will the past lose its significance? Quantity or quality?
- Is the current deluge of digital afterlife services sustainable? Will they really outlive me?
- Public or private? What would an open-source model for digital preservation look like?
- How can current advancements in data portability across social networking services support this goal?
- What new legal structures and precedents does this require?
- Are digital personas an accurate reflection of an individual?
- Will my legacy be more significant if I leave my content distributed across multiple sites like Flickr, Facebook and Twitter?
- How will the wealth of preserved information change the way that future generations look back at us?
We’ll be asking for your vote in August, when the panel picker goes live. Hopefully your support (a.k.a. vote) will help us give this topic a proper panel discussion with other digital afterlife experts.
Update: Here’s the link to the PanelPicker: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/3854