Interview Examining Ethical and Technical Personal Data Issues After Death

All the Ghosts in the Machine: Illusions of Immortality in the Digital Age Book

The Guardian recently did an interview with author Elaine Kasket on the dilemma’s faced when dealing with digital data after our deaths. Elaine is a psychologist in London and the author of the recently released book, All the Ghosts in the Machine: Illusions of Immortality in the Digital Age.

It’s a nice interview that covers many different topics including how social media accounts are affected both by the deceased and the grieving after a death as well as how these service have affected the way we now mourn.

Along the lines of that last topic I’ll share one interview question which made me ponder on it for a while:

Have social media changed how we mourn? 
It makes the deceased much more present. The industrial revolution, with its hospitals and suburban cemeteries, enabled us to keep death at arm’s length. But the internet is tailor-made for continuing bonds; it makes it exceptionally easy, because the dead live in tech already. There’s dead people’s data everywhere: their Amazon reviews, their Trip Advisor recommendations. You may encounter something that influences you and have no idea whether it is authored by a dead or a live person. The dead remain socially active in a way that is unprecedented. They are undifferentiated, ambiguously there.

From The Guardian interview of Elaine Kasket

Elaine has a blog covering topics from her book here. You can find Elaine’s book and many others on the topic of digital legacy in the books are of this site.

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