Sunday, 15 November 2009

Digital Assets - Perperation for my Digital Self.

A very small number of companies are starting to emerge offering services which consider the safety of a person’s ‘digital assets.’ Mostly, these companies have been designed with the tag-line ‘safety deposit.’ They focus on the storage of one’s digital self and transfer of one’s digital estate to next of kin once you have passed on.

‘Legacy Locker’ is one such fledgling company who states “most of the websites we all use on a regular basis have little-to-no provisions in place for a loved one to transfer account information in a time of need. In some cases you might even need to get a lawyer involved just to access an email inbox. Your digital legacy needs protection, and we've built Legacy Locker to help solve these problems.”

Vitallock is another such company, still in its alpha phase; it is expected to be launched in spring 2009. They promise their service to be the “Swiss Bank Escrow of Digital Assets”. It is stated within a video on the website that “this is just a logical extension of the economic times, the relevant issues that have come out of…us moving towards a knowledge economy.” claims to be “bridging mortality”. This company works through a ‘death switch’ system. “A death switch is an automated system that prompts you for your password on a regular schedule to make sure you are alive.” If you do not respond after a number of repeated attempts then a predetermined set of actions is undertaken on your behalf, e.g. to inform a member of the family of your death, and about your the transfer of your digital assets., contrasting with highly commercial companies such as ‘Vitallock’ and ‘Legacy Locker’, is concerned with digital heritage. It is a “not-for-profit organization whose mission is to archive Web sites after their authors die and can no longer support them.” The site is run on purely voluntary basis and is “currently being developed so there is very little information at this site. As volunteers help to build, the Web site will progress in content and design.”

The emergence of these companies highlights the beginnings of awareness, towards the issue of digital death and indeed towards the need to ‘take care’ of ones digital assets.

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Welcome to digital death

‘Since it’s creation in the late 1960s, the internet, has been a wealth of easily accessible information on any topic, a useful tool. However in recent years, it’s status as a ‘tool’ for knowledge extraction has been far surpassed. The internet has become an engaging space where people choose to spend time; socializing, buying, selling and living. The movement of the internet from informational navigation tool to a community marks a new form of social phenomenon.’

Although describing the internet as a ‘community’ is certainly not groundbreaking, this word, this ‘community,’ was my spark and continues to be central to my research into virtuality. I observe, firstly my own immersion in the digital world, with the hope of extrapolating some of 'the complex interrelations between a person's personal computer and their digital self.’

This blog will hopefully give you an insight into my head and how I have become fascinated by the socio-virtual space, divulging into areas of the digital world, I have termed:

Digital Death, Digital Afterlife and Digital Heritage.