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BlogSpot: RIP - Rest In Pixels

Paul Coulton has over 15 years' experience in mobile research and is a Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University's School of Computing and Communications. Please go to the link below the article for more details on his research. Paul Coulton has over 15 years' experience in mobile research and is a Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University's School of Computing and Communications. Please go to the link below the article for more details on his research.

Benjamin Franklin famously said 'in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes' and whilst in the physical world this unfortunately remains true, in a world in which our identities increasingly exist virtually, can the same be said for our digital selves?

The average person in the UK now spends one full day per month online and increasingly this means storing more and more of our personal data. And, as storage becomes cheaper and cheaper, more and more data will be stored which means ultimately we can store virtually all our life in digital form creating a 'quantified self'.

But what happens to all this data when we die?

In many cases it effectively belongs to the social networks and cloud services on which it is stored, and such sites are only just addressing this issue. For example, whilst Facebook has introduced the status of 'widower' there is no status of 'deceased' which means that the accounts of such individuals are often left dormant in a kind of virtual limbo. What should happen to this data? Should it be remain accessible? Be archived? Be deleted? Or does it possibly await some future Artificial Intelligence which will reanimate these virtual personas creating a 'Zombie Horde' to take over the internet. Perhaps we need a new social network called 'The After Life' which will be become the final repository for all our digital data but which you can only get in once you're legally dead!

Whilst my manner at times may be irreverent these issues and others relating to death in the digital age presents real challenges for both users and designers which will need to be addressed as our virtual lives mature.

Mon 27 February 2012

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