Internet of the Dead: the net's collision course with death

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6 Responses to “Internet of the Dead: the net's collision course with death”

  1. Roger Strong says:

    One of the most disturbing things I’ve had to do as an IT manager is close out the accounts for a co-worker and friend who had died.

    I had archive and remove all of his personal files from his PC to get it ready for his replacement.  Remove his Windows login and personal settings.  Remove his network account.  Shut down his email account and redirected his mail to a folder on someone else’s account.  Shut down his instant messaging account and several other online accounts where he had a presence.  Remove his phone extension.  Remove him from the company web page.

    It was as Mr. Doctorow says; he still had a presence in all his” secrets, creative outpourings, minutiae and mundane trivialities”, as well as a web and network presence that still considered him very much alive.

    And my job was to shut it all down.  It felt like I was performing the final stage of killing him.

  2. Lithi says:

    Sorry Cory and Roger, for having to go through that.

    On an extremely tacky note, when I saw the “the net’s collision course with death” part of the headline, I thought Congress put up another SOPA-style bill for debate, or the ITU conference was in full swing a week early.

  3. mhsenkow says:

    I wrote a paper on this concept last year. A few people in the HCI field have been thinking of the concept…how does death impact facebook profiles, or twitter feeds, voicemails or emails…..what if you have things you don’t WANT people seeing? 

    http://www.mhsenkow.org/interaction/thanatos.html

  4. Gordon Stark says:

    This is an important subject Cory.

    The solution seems very elusive given all the aspects to address.

    People need to name someone as the person to attend to their data after they wrap up a lifetime.

    I know someone who has spent 30 years on some software, and when he dies, it would likely be thrown in the trash because he never released it, and no one is adept to rescue his life’s work and ensure his goal that it benefit mankind, except myself perhaps, knowing of it.

    I think Archive.org is an ideal body to consider this issue, as well.  So much hard work stands to be lost, and that is not a good thing, neither for the deceased, nor for mankind.

    One other thing, I do not agree with shutting down people’s accounts when they die. They should simply be marked as deceased on the accounts, otherwise it’s like destroying all the sculptures of an artist after he dies. Do not destroy the work, just mark the person as deceased and forward email and other links to a relative or designated living representative.

    I intend my online work to -remain- after I have died, and anyone destroying it is disrespectful and is the problem.

    Keep going with this subject!

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