The Digital Afterlife!

On October 29th, 2012 @Noah tweeted “Scattered showers #myass”, two hours into hurricane sandy hitting the New York coast. We can disagree whether Noah of the Ark existed or not, but its fair to assume there is a consensus that if he did, he is dead!

In today’s digital world, life after death is another given. A study conducted by Starcount -a British firm that tracks activity on 11 different social networks- found that Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur continue to garner close to 300 million followers on social media platforms. Dedicated media teams are assembled to manage the celebrities postmortem social presence, allowing the introduction of unreleased content, plugging of products and development of a brand around the deceased. Such lucrative prospects triggered legal battles over the royalty rights and ownership of those online accounts between contesting celebrity estates.

Now you must be thinking “well I am not a celebrity, no one will make money off my brand, my twitter account will surely wither and die when I am gone”, well not really. Just cause you are not a celebrity doesn’t mean you have to shut up when you die.

Companies like and are using predictive algorithms to slice and dice your social persona and learn about your likes, tastes and syntax which enables them to recreate real time tweets and digital content of what you would have said/done in a given situation, long after you are gone. These technologies remain in an infantile stage, usually rendering disconnected sentences and unmatched thoughts, yet with the amount of data created and advancements in computing power, hopes remain high.

Chief Strategy Officer at Mashable, Adam Ostrow even takes it a notch further “think back to this famous scene from election night 2008 back in the United States,where CNN beamed a live hologram of hip hop artist into their studio for an interview with Anderson Cooper. What if we were able to use that same type of technology to beam a representation of our loved ones into our living rooms — interacting in a very lifelike way based on all the content they created while they were alive? “

Most social platforms now offer user planning options including account termination or automatic password sharing for their “online assets” in the event of death. Other services like offer last tweets or Facebook posts that are only published once the author dies.

With the millennials getting older, life after death is a new realm in Web 2.0 that remains to be explored. Now some food for thought:

      • Do we want this to become our new reality? We all expected a platform like Facebook to have a significant graveyard in 20 something years, but now it seems that it will have a lot of Zombies roaming around.
      • How will this affect the overall human experience? Humans have always been constrained with the scarcity of time they have in this life, but now your greatest achievement might happen way after you are gone. This beautiful piece of poetry, some ingenious political commentary, that hilarious joke could potentially be created using an algorithm that resembles you. Would that really be you?

One thought on “The Digital Afterlife!

  1. In response to The Digital Afterlife article post, I’m having a hard time understanding why we’d want a social media presence once we’ve died. As such, I wouldn’t want this to become our new reality for Web 2.0. I feel this way for several reasons. First, and as the article describes, our afterlife presence on social media platforms will only be algorithms constructed by companies who may not have met us when we were alive. These algorithms wouldn’t necessarily represent what we might have said/thought. I believe that my family, friends, and people who knew me would not appreciate seeing false posts/comments shared after my death. Secondly, death is serious and should be respected. Using someone’s identity afterlife seems disrespectful especially if companies or individuals are gaining fame, recognition or money from it. We should be living in the present and allowing those who have passed on to do so in peace. Accepting this potential “new reality” simply blurs the lines of what’s real and fake.

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