Matar Cohen is a Creative intern.
When you die, what will be remain of you other than your belongings, digital data and social media blurbs?
Two hundred years from now the memory of your existence will become a vague mashup of your digital data, stored in a long lost folder that no one will have interest in. Unless of course, you win a Nobel prize, become a celebrity, a great politician or take a few steps on a mars.
In the past, tradition and family stories about descendants gave true meaning to family heritage, belonging and connection. But today, in a globalized world, the value of local cultures and tradition weakens for the sake of uniformity, through the power of international media.
How can new media and the informational revolution strengthen cultural identity? The first step of feeling part of a community is to know your past. You don’t know who you are unless you know where you came from. If you only knew bits and pieces of the long journeys your ancestors went through, which led to your existence, you would have had a broader understanding of the connection to your roots and identity.
A few months ago, I found out that someone whom I briefly met through networking, had passed away in a sudden death. I discovered this through viewing his Facebook profile was now had the word RIP next to his name. Being shocked and feeling completely overwhelmed with his ghost-like Facebook account, I started wondering about digital life after death.
It turns out that a few companies are starting to address this situation and offer different services to help your digital ghost manage your digital after-life. A British start up company called ‘DeadSoci.al’ lets you send “good bye” messages through your social handles and publish them once you passed away. ‘Yahoo Japan’ launched a service called ‘Yahoo Ending’, which deletes all your data, stops your automatic bill payments and posts a bulleting board page for your friends to virtually message your digital ghost. Facebook offers memorial videos as an after-life summation solution.
Right now there are billions of social media accounts worldwide that one-day will lose the real person they repres
ent and will turn into space-wasting digital file cabinets. The world has just begun thinking about the future of digital presence phenomenon, so currently it is still a relatively virgin market. I suspect that new different services and creative solutions will begin trending in the near future.
In fact, being extremely fascinated by this topic, I decided to tackle this problem myself. I developed an idea for an app called TRACE, to give the opportunity for personal digital presence that would interact with individual’s future generations, while leaving a mark in this world. The idea is to make a digital scrapbook of people’s lives, which could be captured forever and viewed by future generations. In that platform the key is data limitation to capture only the most important moments or messages. Using a geo-location based virtual footprint, each mark would be linked to a specific virtual location, and could be revealed only when a future friend or family members would be walking physically near that exact location.
If we start now, we will be creating a future of interactions with our ancestors and heritage, while linking between the digital and the physical world. Even though our bodies will no longer exist, our essence will be very much alive.