image courtesy of flickr user Julia Shore

Last week Adam Ostrow had a live chat based around his TED talk (see below) on what should happen to our digital identities after we die. The discussion focused a bit on what we want to happen with all the digital content we create after we die including the ability to possibly have an AI method to post or interact with others after our passing. While I don’t particularly like that thought, I do believe there is plenty of value in providing that data for others after we pass.

Here’s the comment I posted on Adam’s live chat:

As someone who has covered the emergence of sharing our lives online at Lifestream Blog I have also given some thought as to what happens to our digital footprint after we pass and have written about it.

This is such a new area that will require a rethinking in many areas in the future. I believe people should have their digital legacy wishes outlined in their wills. I feel that a digital legacy will provide so much more for future generations to learn about their family and heritage. All I have to remember my grandparents are a few photos and stories told by my parents. I’d love to be able to browse and search their digital legacies to learn more about them.

I can also see an opportunity for changes in businesses such as funeral homes and cemeteries. The digital legacies could be used for family members to help share a life at a memorial and cemeteries could also offer kiosks that provide the digital legacy for people to view. I see many changes and innovations that will result around this area in the future.

In January I came across this great story on “Cyberspace When You’re Dead” in the New York Times. I highly recommend reading this article as it’s enlightening and leads to many questions you may not have considered about all the digital data you’re creating. If you’re young then creating a will isn’t probably something you’ve done, but if you’re getting older, then having a plan on what your wishes are around your digital data is something you should be thinking about. Along with your wishes you should have a method planned to hand over all the account information as well as passwords to access them and keep that up to date.

In Adam’s talk he references the post by Derek K. Miller which he prepared to be published after he passed. He also mentions a service called 1000 memories which is designed so that we can create memorial tribute sites for others after they die. Along with that I mentioned in my comment how digital data can play a big role providing information for future generations that was impossible to do easily for previous generations. So along with determining our wishes within wills and ways to provide archives of this information, there are many considerations we need to be making as we plan for the inevitable which is always something we tend to put off. I see so many new business opportunities that could arise from this. In the meantime, here’s a helpful post on Lifehacker that should provide some guidance for being prepared.

Here’s Adam’s TED talk

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