Digital death day conference 2010 in London – Summary

Yesterday we were at digital death day (Un)conference in London and had great time discussing various issues related to death and digital death. It was nice to see so many people discussing the idea of death and problems of death in digital age. W…

Yesterday we were at digital death day (Un)conference in London and had great time discussing various issues related to death and digital death. It was nice to see so many people discussing the idea of death and problems of death in digital age. We hosted a session on planned departure and how it can be used to transfer key information about life and online identities to designated beneficiaries after death.

First session we participated in was related to the historical roots of digital death. We had nice discussion on what is technology? Is it a concept, practice or a choice? Discussion soon moved to how technology has evolved and how it has changed our life in every stage. From romance on the telegraph lines to women’s reservation to use telephone at home and error messages which eventually became SMS in mobile phone – one factor which made all of these successful was communication. Telegraph, telephone, computers and many other gadgets were developed for business, but when people realised that they could be used for communication, they became extremely popular and successful.

One concept related to death which has stood the test of time is obituaries. Obituaries are considered as formal notification of death and have been around for little over 300 years now. We had discussion around how obituaries are different in physical newspaper and online world. We also had discussion on how truthful and honest obituaries can be? Is there any possibility of conflicts in the obituaries?

At planned departure, we were of the opinion that content of obituary and who controls conflict should be decided by the person for whom obituary is written. At planned departure user can setup their own obituaries and specify who should moderate tributes paid on these obituaries

Few more interesting concepts we discussed were around death photography which was very popular during the early days of photography where portraits of death people were taken in life like forms. We also discussed few interesting projects like digital remains, temple of burning man and scan memory on the lines of how much people want to preserve and transfer their memories and how much it is common in different parts of the world.

We also had a discussion on the rising trend of people converting remains of their loved ones into artefacts like pencils, colours and even precious stone. It was interesting to know that people are even using digital tattoos as a way to remember their loved ones.  

Next session was ours and we discussed complexities of digital life, how much information we  have and how much of it could be useful for people we leave behind. We had discussion around planned departure which is all covered in our features section so I wont repeat that discussion here. During this session,  Darren, who is managing director of Impact360 gave us some numbers which shows how important it is to transfer information after death.  It seems MS has around 500 million USD of cheques which were sent as dividend. It is with MS because they do not know who should take it. If its 500 million USD with Microsoft alone, how much is around the whole world, in shares, unclaimed insurance, pre-paid funerals and so on?

Next session was around the concept of everything forever – which is digitizing your every data and keep it forever. I was not sure about the usefulness of this concept, but then got to know about a project called My Life Bits from Microsoft research. In the same session we had discussion on the concept of virtual donation – which is donating digital identity to researchers like how people do with their physical bodies. Another interesting discussion we had in this session was around the topic of network of dead people in our network. 

One last session, was on the topic of devising a language to communicate the concept of digital death and unfortunately we missed it because of our schedule 😦 Hope it will be covered by fellow bloggers though. 

Overall it was a really nice experience and very relevant to our current time. With continuously increasing dependency on digital life – we need to increase awareness of this concept and help people in transferring their digital information after death. My sincere thanks to Kaliya and Stacey for organizing this and increasing awareness about the topic of digital death.


Author: Planned Departure

Living and working in this digital era, our social media accounts – from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr to the likes of Pinterest – are increasing not only in number but also in volume. Additionally, many of us have domain names registered and libraries of movies, digital music and e-Books that can be of significant value. And let's not forget about Bitcoin and other virtual currencies! For the majority of us, these accounts and digital assets are likely to outlive us. And when we die, it is left up to family members and estate executors to sift through them all. Furthermore, even though they may have all the required passwords necessary for these accounts, many heirs will discover that they have no clear authority to access, or even to manage, the online accounts of their deceased loved ones. With the value of individuals' digital assets globally measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars, planning for the protection of our digital assets has moved to centre stage. It is essential that our online and social media accounts are included as part of the estate planning process. Failure to do so may not only deprive those we leave behind of fond memories and (possibly) a little nest egg, it could also leave us vulnerable to postmortem identity theft if fraudsters get to use our personal details to apply for credit facilities whilst our accounts remain unguarded. Planned Departure resolves these issues. We provide you with the ability not only to protect your digital assets, but also to clearly indicate who can access your online accounts and who should benefit from them. Create piece of mind today by registering with us in one quick and easy process.

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