SXSW Panel Discussion on Death and Digital Legacy

In 2012 I attended a panel at SXSW titled Digital Immortals: Preserving Life Beyond Death which began my journey exploring all the facets of Digital Legacy. I recently came across the audio (embedded below) for a SXSW talk from 2016 titled Everybody Dies: What is your Digital Legacy? The panel had several speakers each bringing a different perspective on the issues related to your online accounts and what happens to them after you die. This information is still very relevant as planning and adoption of best practices for digital legacies is still a new area that most people are not aware of.

Panelists for Everybody Dies: What Is Your Digital Legacy?
Panelists for Everybody Dies: What Is Your Digital Legacy? (image courtesy of Andrew Sanderson)

Alethea Lange was a policy analyst at the time of the panel for the center for democracy & technology and she moderated the panel. Here’s s short video she recorded ahead of the conference.

Megan Yip is a lawyer specializing in estate planning, trust Administration, & digital assets spoke regarding the legal aspects of current laws and how they are applied differently across the United States. Megan provided some best practices around how digital data should be considered as part of your estate planning. She strongly recommends creating an inventory of your digital assets to help organize this information.

Vanessa Callison-Burch is a product manager at Facebook and was one of the people who helped develop Facebook’s legacy contact policy and functionality and she discusses that process and how it works. Vanessa discusses all the intricate details regarding how a Facebook profile becomes memorialized and what specific features are provided to the person you designate to manage your profile after you die. Another option is to simply have your complete account deleted after you die.

John Troyer who is is the Director of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath and a social scientist shared what he’s seen in regards to the are where tech and death cross paths. John talks about how he sees cemeteries evolving in the future to also contain our personal data as part of our memorial.

Here’s a curated list of all the tweets that provide discussion and resources that were collected using the #techlegacy (talk was on 3/11/16) hashtag from the talk. You can read a summary of the panel over on Engadget. The audio for the panel is available below.