Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Rootless Undead

Real unreal life imitates art

Back in the 70s, Frederick Pohl wrote a terrific sci-fi series called the Heechee Saga.

As the saga unfolded, there were "meat" people and virtual people. If you were super-rich like Robin Broadhead, you could execute a brain dump into a computer application and live on in a sort of Second Life universe. (See how real unreal life imitates art?) Virtual Robin could communicate with meat people, including his wife, and with never-real, virtual personas such as his computer-generated psycho-analyst Sigmund.

I'm confident that some day, a monied few of us will become immortal in a virtual way, in that we can "live" an undead life out in the ether with other undead, perhaps continuing relationships with our surviving family and friends.

(Gosh, we think same-sex marriage is complicated. When we have the power to become undead, will there be constitutional amendments to clarify that marriage is between one living-in-the-flesh man and one living-in-the-flesh woman? Need to redefine the meaning of [end of] life? Allow voting privileges to the undead? Allow them to donate to political candidates? Retire the phrase "pull the plug"? .... I digress.)

Our undead selves in the cloud

In old-timey cartoons, when someone dies, we see them lounging on white fluffy clouds.

Google Docs (which has morphed into Google Drive). Dropbox. Amazon.  Skydrive. SugarSync.

Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, Tumblr, email accounts ... .... 

Repositories of the data of our meat lives assumed into the cloudly heavens.

What happens to our undead, fluffy cloud selves?

And who 'owns' our undead, fluffly cloud selves?

Dave, over at The Longest Way Home, offered detailed instructions for handling undead email and other accounts in his article, What Happens to Your Online Digital Assets? in September 2011.   

Kindle library

Read the answers to Kyle Gerrard's question: Where Do E-Books Go When You Do? in his New York Times article.

"Planned departure" 

"Planned departure" is the name of a company: "Be in charge of your online and digital assets after your death and decide what should be deleted or transferred to someone you love and trust."

I imagine it won't be long before online/digital 'asset' providers will enable a beneficiary or "instructions upon death" feature, but in the meantime, here are some other products or services

Legacy Locker, the "safe and secure way to pass your online accounts to your friends and loved ones."

Lifehacker (or in this case, Deathhacker) writes about another company, Entrustet, here.

... ah, but Secure Safe recently bought both Entrustet and LifeEnsured for what it calls "data inheritance."

I haven't fully explored these services, but I intend to do so soon.

When the Rapture Comes: Guarding Digital Assets

This article, 10 Things IT Groups Need to Know About the Rapture, always makes me laugh.

Credit: CDC

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