The Digital Beyond: An Introduction

What happens to your digital identity after you die? This video explains the issues of death and the opportunities brought about by technology and the Internet.

    About Evan Carroll

    Evan Carroll is an author, speaker and UX strategist who works to make digital experiences more personal, more emotional and more effective. A leader in the developing digital legacy and personal archiving arena, Evan is author and co-founder at The Digital Beyond and co-author of the book, Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What's Your Legacy?. Evan has appeared in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, NPR’s Fresh AirObit magazine, NPR’s Here and Now, Fox News, CNN and The Atlantic. A frequent speaker on both marketing and digital legacy, Evan has presented to audiences at SXSW Interactive (2010-2012, 2014), the Library of Congress, and the Internet Archive, among others. Evan holds BS and MS degrees in Information Science from UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science. He can be contacted by emailing or via Twitter @evancarroll.  Evan's personal site is www.evancarroll.net.

    6 Responses to The Digital Beyond: An Introduction

    1. Paul August 17, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

      Freakin AWESOME!!

      Clear, simple, and spot on!

      Go, go, go!!

    2. Chromepoet August 18, 2009 at 9:28 pm #

      Immorality, I’ve had some.
      Immortality, plum ran out.

      The digital immortality is at once awe-inspiring and absurd.

      In Stuttgart I looked at a piece of Roman armor and felt awe. The craftsman? Unknown. Probably the Legionnaire who wore the armor neither met nor knew who labored to make him a bit safer in Germany’s forests. Yet, the armor survived to fill my soul with wonder 2 centuries after the Roman defeat.

      Digital records do not survive so. All things digital will pass, replaced perhaps by more digital but incompatible digital. Documents created today may last 25 years at best until the last of the read capable devices drop through the cracks of history. Who will update your formats when you are gone? No one. What anthropologist 1000 years from now will reverse engineer file formats? None.

      If you want to leave something behind, carve rock.

    3. John Romano August 20, 2009 at 10:59 am #

      @Chromepoet But imagine if you actually *could* learn about the Legionnaire who wore that armor. His dreams. Did he survive the campaign? Did he retire to an olive grove near Naples?

      That armor survived not because it was made of metal. Thousands of similar suits have fallen to corrision and time. What made it survive was a sense of value that someone saw in it, and 2000 years of active acts of preservation.

      What we are asking here is if what we are doing online is worth preserving, and if it is, how do we preserve it?

    4. ailec August 20, 2009 at 1:48 pm #

      Very cool video. Very cool ideas.

      This is just the sort of thinking I’m going to be chewing on in graduate school. It’s all about information, remember.

      Something I mull about is “the cloud” and persistence. The cloud has good and bad points. I’m just old school enough to be leery about it. But things are floating there now of course, for instance Flickr, xanga, twitter, Google docs, etc etc etc) But, maybe something goes majorly “poof” and it vanishes…okay, sure that’s negative thinking, but wouldn’t it be good to have something akin to the Dead-Sea-Scrolls-in-a-cave? Backup, backup, backup, and redundancy. Let me put it this way, how many xangans do you think really maintain their own backups of posts? If xanga had a serious hiccup, they’d lose all if they had no backup.

      While I’m at it, I was at a talk yesterday where a prof mentioned explicitly the idea of people keeping older computers & peripherals running simply to be able to facilitate format/file transfer. A repository, if you will, of devices like that would be cool. (As I was sitting there, I contemplated the “historic farm” angle of it, and wondered what the computer operators would be required to wear to make it fit the appropriate historic period…)

      @chromepoet I think that the point by John is important, that most armor did not survive. Maybe think of oral stories. There is nothing carved in stone, no papyrus or berry dyes on hides. Just words, spoken around to others, who remember the stories, and then say the words again to another group of people. Languages have changed even, but the stories and songs got translated, and are still here. Yes, some stories have died when certain tribes of people have died out, but like your armor, some stories have lived on.

    5. Evan Carroll August 21, 2009 at 12:32 am #

      Aliec-
      Tell me more about your graduate studies. I’m working on a MS in Information Science and I’m planning to research this topic for my thesis.

    6. John Romano August 22, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

      More conversation about this movie here:
      http://sharkey.xanga.com/709947109/the-digital-beyond/

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