You’ve probably never thought about it. I mean who would? I didn’t up to a few weeks ago until an article in the Metro discussed that exact topic “What happens to your online life when you die?” Nearly everyone including your friends, some family and possibly your pet goldfish own a social networking account, everyone is somehow online and connected with the world. I’ve tweeted, posted and shared without thinking about the future of where all of my information might be going. Since reading the article it’s plagued my mind as to where all my stuff may go. I’ve even joined the loser crew by googling my name more often than is actually needed. You could say I am my own stalker. In the world of celebrity, the good the bad and the ugliest of ugly pictures haunt search engines image pages for eternity. I will never be famous and I’m pretty sure Andy Wharhol is wrong that “Everyone one will be famous for 15 minutes” because who actually in their right mind gives a sodding hoot about my crap, but the question still swirls around my head. So what does happens to our digital assets when we die? In 100 years, will there be a virtual you circulating the web?
Did you know GMail can send all your contacts and emails to your family and friends after you died? I didn’t.
Twitter can give your next of kin a copy of all your tweets. Weird.
Do I have any dirty digital laundry I should think about? Hmmm, I don’t think so. I’m no Imogen Thomas so more than likely no.
It’s a little creepy. Do you know of anyone who’s digital assets are continuing online? There are a lot of people who have left Facebook pages or MySpace profiles up for their loved ones as a tribute for their loved one. A friend of mine who passed away a few years ago still has his Facebook page up. He’s obviously not controlling it but his family thought it would be a great idea for his friends and family to keep his memory alive. It’s nice to see him on Facebook without feeling like he’s just disappeared forever.
Celebrities who’s Digital Assets Will Live Forever
In February, the tragic news of Whitney Houston‘s death was announced to the world on Twitter and spread at a rapid speed. In the first hour of the news going live, about 2.5 million tweets and retweets were sent, which averages to more than 1,000 tweets sent a second (according to Topsy Labs). The news was released 30 minutes before mainstream media reported the news. The Associated Press confirmed Houston’s death (cause still unknown) on Twitter by citing her publicist, but not before two people tweeted the story from their own sources. All of Whitney’s digital assets will stay alive forever because of her celebrity status, her incredible singing voice, her lack of acting talent and her version of Dolly Parton’s ‘I’ll Always Love You.’ When news broke that Amy Winehouse had died last year in her North London home, fans from all over the world tweeted and passed on their well wishes to her family on losing such a talented young singer. Although Amy had her troubles with drug and alcohol addiction, many celebrities such as producer Mark Ronson, Diddy, and Pete Wentz tweeted about their grief. Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas responded to people tweeting sarcasm and jokes, saying “So many people saying that because it’s not a surprise that Amy Winehouse passed, it’s not sad. I hope you have more compassion for friends.” Winehouse was trending on Twitter for the majority of the weekend as fans also expressed their sadness. There seems to be an emerging trend of large-scale death announcements being made on Twitter, including Amy Winehouse, Steve Jobs and Osama Bin Laden. The fact that Whitney’s death was tweeted before being officially announced, reveals social media’s emerging role. As more people look to tweets for breaking news, rather than mainstream media, Twitter is becoming a primary and reliable news source in society. Celebrities are expected to release statements on Twitter, for example in regards to Houston’s death, and how many retweets they get shapes their social proof. Social proof plays a role in Twitter and social media because the more we hear about social media’s influence on breaking news, the more we rely on it for news. In another sense, the more influence a person is perceived to have on social media, the more reliable and believable they become. People are remembering them in different ways from downloading music, continuously buying merchandise endorsed by them or their companies or by keeping them alive through word of mouth.
Will people be doing that about me when I die? Honestly?
Probably not, but the thought of the Danielle Moon legacy (if there ever will be one) does make me feel a little special. I asked the same question on LinkedIn a few weeks ago and got a mixed response. Some people said they didn’t want to think that far ahead others mentioned sites actually deal with your online assets now in preparation for when you die. James Norris, a London-based entrepreneur created DeadSocial, a tool that allows anyone to create scheduled messages that can be distributed across their social networks after the user’s death. This allows final goodbyes to be told and for people to continue to communicate once they have passed away. DeadSocial explores the notion of digital legacy and allows us all to extend our digital life through technology and the social web. DeadSocial was announced at SXSW in Texas after attaining support from UK Trade & Investment. Since then DeadSocial have been finalists in the London Web Summit and opened the website allowing users to signup & create a profile.
Will you set up an account?