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.