Online data and death

Perhaps the most unusual WordPress plugin I’ve ever heard of is Next of Kin. According to the plugin’s creator:

It monitors your own visits to your wordpress system, and will send you a warning email after a number of weeks (of your choice) without a visit. If you fail to visit your blog even after that, the system will send a mail you wrote to whoever you choose.

Presumably, the idea is to include the access credentials for your site(s) in the final email.

This raises the more general question of what should happen to web content after a person dies. Facebook pages can be turned into memorials. Blogs can be left up, intentionally taken down, or left to eventually vanish from non-payment or some other hosting change. What is most appropriate generally? What would readers want for themselves?

Email might be the trickiest of all. Most of it is trivial, but some is an important life record. Should any of it ever be passed along to survivors, as a person’s personal correspondence might once have been?

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

One thought on “Online data and death”

  1. Living in a time where death is always likely to be pushed away from our attention, this is an important question. The most important thing, I would say, is 1) to remind ourselves of our mortality and 2) to make sure to leave to sufficient instructions behind what our relatives are to do with our possessions. It’s better to make these tough decisions yourself than to burden our relatives with it. In the case of our virtual weblife, things get complicated, of course, by passwords, etc.

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