DEATH AND DIGITAL LEGACY
In 2007, a someone I followed on a social network died. In the aftermath I was struck with a feeling of connectedness through technology yet, I was grappling with a very real, physical conclusion.
Over the last few years, I’ve known more people, both directly and on the peripheral of my social networks, who have passed. As sure as taxes, it will happen to us all at some point. I started to notice that the ability to come together as a community, with technology bridging geography, was a comfort to many.
Yet, sometimes, I found a disconnect between people’s online communities and their physical lives, where families disregarded the long-established virtual lives of their loved ones out of a lack of understanding. Sometimes the social services themselves posed problems with a lack of policy or procedure for family and friends left to pick up the pieces.
As I started to talk about the impact of death in the digital community, more and more stories came forward of struggles, of solutions, and of people’s different reactions moving through the experience. Behaviours varied widely; what was acceptable to one individual was abhorrent to another. It became clear to me that, just as every birth is different, so is how each of us perceives and reacts to death.
Since first starting to explore this subject, I’ve realized that it stretches wider than ever imagined. There are legal obstacles, thoughts about digital executors and wills, questions about ownership of content, security and privacy concerns, perspectives about the value of online content, discussions on the responsibility of software developers, and profound thinking about the concept of digital immortality.
My plan is to continue to research, speak and write about this subject, while using DeathAndDigitalLegacy.com as the platform for this work. I look forward to exploring this topic with you and to providing a resource that will help people to plan for the future and consider the implications of their own digital legacy.
For media, or other inquiries, please contact me at Adele |at| DeathAndDigitalLegacy |dot| com.
Adele McAlear is exploring the relationship between death, social media and technology through research, speaking and writing about digital legacy. She seeks to help people understand the personal, social, legal and business implications of all that they leave behind. The dedicated site for this project is at DeathAndDigitalLegacy.com.
Her expertise has been featured in interviews in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Canadian Press, on television, radio, print and digital. Notably, her article on digital legacy was published in the respected German-language journal for international cultural perspectives, Kulturaustausch.
Named one of the Top 10 Most Influential Women in Social Media in Canada, Adele McAlear is an early adopter of social media and a technology enthusiast who lives much of her life on the web. Adele’s marketing career spans more than 20-years and is an integrated marketing consultant based in Montreal. Her marketing blog is at AdeleMcAlear.com.
Photo: Rannie Turingan