[ISEA2011] Paper: Daniel Buzzo – Things to do in digital afterlife when you’re dead


There are currently few procedures, guidelines, public awareness or general debate about what happens to our online digital identities after death. This paper outlines what happens with personal electronic information after death and will endeavor to propose possible new solutions to the problems associated with disparate, legacy personal data.

As more people live increasing amounts of their lives online the issue of physical death in the digital realm is becoming pressingly visible.  Despite growing amounts of such legacy data there is little legal or cultural precedent as to how to treat the personal data of dead users.

The paper discusses current ideas, technologies, and debates around this difficult area and outlines the current state of affairs and presents possible avenues for future development.

There are currently several projects looking at aspects related to this area including, OpenID, oAuth, OpenSocial, VRM, vendor relationship management, PDS personal data spaces, the Mine! Project, Identity Commons et Al. the Paper looks into these in detail and identifies what common approaches may be gleaned from them and what traction their ideas may have in the real world.

The rapidly approaching digital Afterlife offers a challenge of almost unimaginable scope to the creative vision of Artists, Philosophers, Technologists and Cultural thinkers. This paper outlines some of the challenges and opportunities that are on the horizon in a current, near and far future context.

  • Daniel Buzzo is an Artist, Designer, Researcher and Educator working with new media and creative technologies. His primary interests are in non-narrative moving image, generative media, interaction design, interdisciplinary research and co-creation.  He is associated with the Digital Cultures Research Centre, Bristol UK, and the PLaCE Research Centre at the University of the West of England. He is a director of Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, and a steering member of the People’s Republic of Stoke’s Croft. He is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Media at the University of the West of England and Lead Designer and Co-Owner at Buzzodesign a UK based creative consultancy.He is alumnus of the Royal College of Art and his work has been shown widely including; BBC television, UK,  ISEA, Holland. Artists Television Access, San Francisco. Act Up, New York. LSE, London and appeared in publications as diverse as The Face, The Guardian and Revolver. He has lectured and presented at many conferences internationally. Current research activity includes the interactive visualisation of deep mapping data, machine transcription for generation of blended learning materials and investigation into post death strategies in the digital arena. dcrc.org.uk   placeresearch.co.uk   prsc.org.uk   centrespacegallery.com

Full text (PDF)   p.  310-316