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Digital afterlife predictions for 2010

New YearIt’s that time of year and there’s one thing that the Internet is not short of–predictions about what will happen in 2010.  And like most others out there, we have an opinion too.  Let’s take a brief look back at 2009.

Without doubt, 2009 was the emerging year for the digital afterlife.  Since we started keeping track in June, the digital afterlife has appeared in blogs and the media nearly 60 times, and I’m sure we missed a few articles along the way. 2009 also brought a deluge of online services that help individuals manage their digital afterlife or memorialize their loved ones.  We didn’t keep up with the launch date for each new service, but there we learned of at least 10 new services in 2009.  With all of this buzz it’s safe to say that more and more people are thinking about the digital afterlife.

So what’s next?  In 2010 awareness of digital afterlife issues will increase and the industry will continue to grow at a rapid pace.  Trendwatching.com says that the digital afterlife is a part of an overall trend of “profile myning,” or taking control of your own profiles.  Internet users are increasingly aware of their online identity and are taking steps to control it.

With personal profiles (which are the nucleus of one’s personal brand) representing an ever-greater emotional and financial value, expect a burgeoning market for services that protect, store, and, in case of emergencies/death, arrange handing over of one’s digital estate to trusted others. – trendwatching.com

Standards
There is not yet a best practice for dealing with deceased users’ content.  Practices vary across sites and many sites do not have a standard practice in place.  We expect to see efforts form around standardization, as more attorneys and estate planners gain interest in the subject.

More content
The idea that personal computers should primarily use local storage (aka your hard drive) is becoming a thing of the past.  Flickr is great for photos and Google Docs is starting to perform as well as desktop-based software.  The recent Chrome OS more or less solidifies the fact that the browser is the new operating system.  This trend means more content in the cloud that will require afterlife planning.

Competition
The digital afterlife industry is still very young and there’s no clear leader.  Right now, services can roughly be divided into three categories,  estate planning, posthumous messaging or online memorials. We suspect that like any emerging industry, the competition will heat up and these services will work to differentiate from others.

Increased digital component in funerals
Hong Kong recently turned to online memorials to help deal with the shortage of burial plots.  Funeral homes across the US are using DVD slide shows or other multimedia during services.  With some places replacing graves with online memorials and technology making its way into the funeral home, we expect more to come on this front.  Too bad Eternal Space didn’t hold on longer.

In summary 2010 will be another emerging year, but will be full of exciting developments for the industry.  We’ll be here at The Digital Beyond to keep you informed.

Photo credit to Atomische on Flickr.

    5 Responses to Digital afterlife predictions for 2010

    1. Jesse January 16, 2010 at 10:59 am #

      At the risk of stating the obvious, I think people in general will begin to warm up to the notion that it makes sense to start considering their daily online activities to be, in actuality, part of their digital asset portfolio. We will see an enlightening of sorts; that is, people will begin tuning into the fact that they are actively crafting their digital legacy all the time. A Facebook profile will not just be a Facebook profile, a blog will no longer just be a blog, and so on and so on.

    2. Evan Carroll January 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

      That’s absolutely correct. I prefer to think of everyday activities like Facebook and blogging to be a projection of one’s identity. Those projections collect into a corpus of data that represents who they are and what they think, perhaps better than ever before. In either case, this data is highly valuable and people will start to see that value.

    3. R.Brian Burkhardt January 20, 2010 at 9:21 am #

      The increased digital componet will be strong in Funerals in 2010. What will also happen is the Funeral Consumer continue to begin do do their own Digital Memorials. There will be growth in Video Messages online,left for survivors by those who die. Some folks are now giving thier own eulogy’s though on line video and commenting on their legacy.

      YourFuneralGuy

    4. John Romano January 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

      Expect to see digital asset law to become more important in 2010. We’ll begin to see state estate laws begin to include digital assets. We’ll also begin to see digital executors becoming more common.

      I also expect to see the continued evolution and improvement to online digital death services, especially as they relate to inheritance and executor handoff.

    5. Glenn Mangold May 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

      We are the Premier provider of Online “Live” Funeral – Wedding and Event Web Streaming….death does not set appointments so many loved ones are unprepared and cannot attend due to illness, travel expenses, small children and especially fear of job loss. By allowing loved ones and friends to Digitally be there live, we are already taking the forefront in the digital beyond.

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