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Making connections

While doing some research recently, I started to think more about the  fields of study that together form a foundation for the digital afterlife.  I have always maintained that this is a multi-faceted topic, but I didn’t realize how true that statement was.

Identity – online content is a projection of our identity into the digital world.  E-mails, photos, connections and conversations provide a corpus of data allowing for unprecedented study and preservation of identity.

Human-computer interaction – the study of how we interact with computers.  Closely linked to identity, computers have become our companions in life.  They’re contents provide records of our thinking, communications and pleasures.

Estate planning – the traditional practice of law that helped individuals plan the disposition of their assets.  Our digital assets are becoming increasingly valuable.  It’s time for a legally-sound process to protect them and allow us to pass them along to the next generation.

Funeral service – end of life care and remembrance.  The way we remember and honor the decreased is changing.  Online memorials and gatherings are an increasing occurrence and are no less real than their offline counterparts.

Archives and preservation – archivists have worked for years to collect and preserve tangible information for centuries.  Now in an digital world they are working to collect and preserve not just physical, but “born digital” assets as well.

I’m sure that I missed a few.  Can you think of any others?  Comment it up, folks.

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4 Responses to Making connections

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

    The field of identity alone is huge. Artifacts (photos, conversations, writing, video) are an expression of the self in life and are often all that remains after death. Looking at how most artifacts are becoming purely digital should give us pause.

  2. francesco coppola March 13, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    Ancestry ? …

  3. Evan Carroll March 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    Thanks for the comment.

    Ancestry absolutely belongs in this list. Fundamentally, the purpose of preserving your digital identity is to allow the future to understand who you were and what you thought. By understanding how we look at the past presently, we might be able to learn more about how we should preserve the present.

  4. francesco coppola March 14, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    There’a also another cathegory of website related to digital afterlife.
    They are the perfect link between the real world (you sitting in front of your pc) and the spiritual one.
    Have alook at: findagrave.com or deathindexes.com/

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