Willow Brugh, a research affiliate at MIT’s Center for Civic Media, recently speculated on What Is Death In A Networked Age after the death of a close friend. This prompted Brugh to consider her own mortality and created a guide for “postmortem planning” examining the issues that most services providers and lawyers have overlooked.
Longevity and legacy are areas we’ve been considering throughout Pararchive’s design process, notably how can we craft experiences that might need to exist across many lifetimes; today’s ephemera could tomorrow’s archival artefact.
Brugh’s guide is published as a collaborative wiki – NetworkedMortality – and intriguingly includes some hints on how to close online accounts for the deceased while “archiving meta data for posterity and research”. Bequeathing archives and collections is generally something we think of as an act of preservation undertaken by large institutions or prominent individuals.
However as billions of individuals engage in a networked culture, we’ll also need to consider how our electronic legacies are made available for posterity and research, perhaps both as living and posthumous collections.