DeadSocial was recently featured on the BBC’s technology show ‘Click’ – never an insignificant achievement for a website, and more impressive perhaps when you consider that DeadSocial is a website that is so closely linked to one of the topics we really don’t like discussing – death. But DeadSocial isn’t a whimsy, it’s taking its task seriously – as evidenced by their involvement in the DyingMatters Awareness Week, raising awareness of death and bereavement . The question of what to do with your online footprint, data and persona after you die is becoming a question that start-ups and established internet companies alike are looking to answer. Google for instance has launched their Inactive Account Manager which allows you to assign access rights to your data if your Google account hasn’t been used for a set period of time enabling you to give a loved one access to your data after you die.
But what of the social web and why would you use DeadSocial? Inevitably we’ll see social addicts, narcissists to the core, who will plan a zillion status updates and tweets outlining their ascent to the great Like-fest in the sky, it doesn’t matter that they can’t read the adoring LOLs and Likes, they’ll know we’re intrigued by their posthumous activities and that’s satisfaction enough, in this life at least for them. Then there will be the one-liners – the ‘I told you I was sick’ tweets by budding Spike Milligans, on anniversaries and important dates; some witty, perhaps the odd one poignant. Most people though will probably be there in the middle-ground. Is it a chance to say things you never said in life? I hope not. If it needs to be said, if it’s worth saying we should have got it out there before the end. But it’s tempting to imagine how glib you can be and no-one can answer back, but there’s a lot more to this clever website than planning long-term winks and smilies. As so much of of our life is committed, managed and stored in digital format, it stands to reason that at least some of our legacy will become digital. Although as the interesting film above with Eva Tam from Wall Street Journal Live highlights, the law regarding who owns your ‘personal’, i.e. social data after your death is different around the world. Digital natives will probably embrace tools like DeadSocial; I’m a decade older than the youngest digital native but having worked and spent most of my life ‘connected’ I’m inclined to think I may use some of these digital legacy tools, and I mean my entire digital legacy, not just what to do with inheritance rights for my iTunes collection, though that being resolved before Bruce Willis and I both type our last emoticon is slim.
I know what makes my friends laugh, I know what makes my family grimace and it’s nice to think that, not for my benefit but for others amusement, awareness, or to help allay the burden of bereavement, that I can say, recite or record something worthwhile which may get them talking, to each other.
That’s always time well spent.