Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our digital afterlives - Deric's version

The NYTimes Sunday magazine has an interesting article by Rob Walker, raising issues that had been in my penumbra of awareness but that I've now felt forced to address directly. What happens to all the stuff you have put on the internet (photos, blogs, etc.) when you die? You should read the article.

I'll give you my own version of the issues it raises: Like many of us, I entered the web world via an early micro-computer (Apple II in my case, which appeared before the early IBM PC) with a slow phone modem. I got into chat rooms on AOL (using a pseudonym, then used that pseudonym for my first website on geocities.com, which was purchased by Yahoo, and the no-longer-relevant pseudonym was the account name used when I purchased the dericbownds.net domain name that now contain mindblog.dericbownds.net, which is simply a pointer used by google.com (i.e., blogspot.com), which actually hosts MindBlog. The images for the blog are stored, however, not by google, but on my own yahoo-hosted website at dericbownds.net/uploaded_images. Beyond this, I have data on several photo sites, five email addresses, logins and memberships and data on 10-20 social web sites, 61 piano performances on YouTube (with more to come), contact and calendar data on google...... What a mess!

So, what happens when I get run over by a truck tomorrow? I've recently (securely..not by email) passed on to my son and daughter a document titled Hit_By_Bus that hopefully contains enough information for them to sort through this mess and delete most of the material out there (hopefully condensing to a posthumus residue that covers family, university career, dericbownds.net, mindblog, and the piano performances). I don't envy their job, but I'm too lazy to do it myself.

So..what have you done? (Only about a third of Americans even have a will.)

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