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  • People across cultures and across millennia, they've always had the instinct to stay connected to the dead.

  • And they have pulled the available technologies of the day into service to try to get hold of the dead.

  • But now we're at a point where the dead live in the tech already.

  • It's easy to connect to the dead because they're everywhere.

  • Nearly everyone knows someone who had a Facebook account who passed away.

  • There's a friend of mine who recently took their own life and I found out purely by reading statuses and comments on images from several accounts on social media.

  • We can all identify with the experience and it's kind of a new experience that we haven't had before in the pre-digital era.

  • I got a direct message from someone saying: "Hey are you going to come to the service tonight?"

  • And that was really strange because all of the interaction around their very real passing happened purely in the digital realm.

  • [But is all this disturbing the grieving process?]

  • If the dead person is leaving behind this hugely multifaceted online footprint, it gets in the way of people doing that process.

  • It's like, OK here's the durable biography, it's 2,000 pages and is really complicated.

  • And here's the image the person presented to the world and here's their search history.

  • Somebody can go off on a detective trail trying to work out who was this person.

  • And so you can open a door...and you can go down and keep on finding stuff and finding stuff and finding stuff.

  • That's the kind of not letting go that can then maybe be deleterious and not allow people to rest in their grief for someone.

  • Servers are filling up with data about dead people.

  • [If Facebook continues to grow at the same rate, there will be 3.6 billion dead profiles by 2100]

  • And if you keep archiving data, sooner or later, you will have to ask yourself the question: What data should we save and what should be deleted?

  • When everything is online, when the majority of what we do becomes virtual, it will be maybe one of the most important questions that people can deal with.

  • You should think about what we leave behind on the web as parts of who we are.

  • [What will your digital legacy be?]

  • I opted for deletion of my Google data through an active account manager so if I'm inactive for 18 months on any Google service including search engine all of my data on Google will be deleted.

  • People maybe need to be saving in order that other people can, digitally curate their memories, their digital selves after they die.

  • Maybe that's a future job that people could do.

  • I'm going to be managing what I put online with what I feel is most important and most valuable.

  • And in keeping it that reduced, keeping it that curated, keeping it that edited so that for one, it's not going to be that avalanche of things that my descendants inherit.

  • Separate from any kind of thought about my own death, I'm just always aware when I'm like, sharing poetry, or just like, pithy thoughts, that it's going to live on.

People across cultures and across millennia, they've always had the instinct to stay connected to the dead.

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B1 UK dead digital data deleted people keeping

What will your digital legacy be? | BBC Ideas

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    Annie Huang posted on 2020/07/06
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