Digital Ghosts

So it's a beautiful sunny day, and I'd like you to think about death with me for a moment. Hang in there with me for a second, I promise it's relevant. Lately I've had several occasions where talking to friends or even updating my own Social media accounts I've paused and thought...

"What are we going to do with all these accounts when the users aren't here anymore?"

I was in a very real discussion some time ago about whether to leave a list of all one's social media accounts and passwords attached to your will, with instructions to either notify your network you're deceased, or simply delete the account.

So far the only cases we have to study are those of unexpected tragedy (or the rare elderly person who was exceptionally hip) but it seems that for the most part Myspace and Facebook pages turn into memorials when their user passes away. What about Flickr? Youtube? Picasa? The countless other places you and I (and everyone else) now have accounts for saving the things that amuse us and archiving things we love?

Will we someday have vast regions of these social networking sites dedicated to the deceased, full of their pictures, comments, favorite bands, and quips? Or will the companies that run the sites eventually have to enact some sort of inactive account policy and delete those accounts?

I don't know, but I thought maybe you'd have some ideas.

Oh, and happy Thursday. Back to work!