Internet Guide for the Dead

Within the last decade or two, the Internet presented us with a new digital dilemma: what happens to our online properties and presences after we die? Our heirs can decide whether they want to renew any domains we own; that much is easy. But what about other aspects of our online lives? There are now some options for people who don’t want their digital selves to end up in an online purgatory. Evertomb is a real, if tongue-in-cheek, website that creates an online “tomb” for its customers, whom it describes as “great digital Pharaohs.” If you want your memory to be preserved, but you don’t have the cash or land to build a pyramid, this service may be for you. While even the creators describe Evertomb as “creepy,” they also suggest their pharaohs use it for humor, or as a source of income, by asking for donations. I Bequeath My Facebook Page To… Evertomb may not be taking itself seriously, but for some users, social media is a big deal. Facebook now offers its users the ability to name a “legacy contact,” someone who has your permission to access and manage your profile after you pass on. Your account could then become an online memorial, or perhaps go unchanged as a sort of preserved artifact of your online life. What happens with it is between you and your legacy contact, and it’s possible that some may even care enough about the matter to spell out these terms in their legal wills. Gmail offers the same feature. Our next of kin may not know how to get in touch with all of our email contacts in case social media isn’t your thing, but you still want your contacts to know you’re not just pining for the fjords. The First Great Use of the QR Code? Rapidly embraced by the marketing world, the QR code just as quickly became a punchline for a technology without a real use. They showed up on billboards and in other places that you couldn’t possibly hope to scan one. But one area they actually seem useful is on a headstone. Grave markers, by their nature, don’t offer a lot of space to tell your life story, which is no longer your birth/death dates and your name. Your life story is everything that happened between those dates, and a QR code seems like a surprisingly efficient way to present that information. You can now get your tombstone engraved with a QR code, which you can then link to your Facebook memorial, or any other online resource you choose. Granted, QR codes may well have a finite lifespan, leaving its presence on your headstone a mystery after the technology’s demise. For the present, though, it seems like a great way to give visitors a better idea of who you were. Photo Credit: Jared Earle/Flikr

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Will Smith is a copywriter living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His favorite word is “petrichor,” and aside from wordplay, he loves reading history, watching Dodger baseball, and racing with the Sports Car Club of America.

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