Spaces of Death: A Starter Kit for Dying-Digital – CVLT Nation


On August 15, 2009, 14-year-old Kevin Barrera was shot, killed, and left beside train tracks in Richmond, California. about four years late, the ghastly scene featuring a cruiser and patrol officers standing near the dead body was discovered, archived on Google Maps. After discovering the image, Barrera ’ sulfur distraught beget contacted Google, imploring them to remove them—which the party did little more than a week late but not without reluctance or surprise. Brian McClendon, frailty president of the united states of Google Maps wrote in an official instruction, “ Google has never accelerated the successor of updated satellite imagination from our maps before, but given the circumstances we wanted to make an exception in this case. ” [ 1 ] meanwhile, the case remains cold, with the coordinates of 37.951592, -122.360448 now showing alone scandal in an dismiss recess of Earth .

Google Maps Death Scene featuring Barrera and police of Richmond, CAUpdated Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 8.12.57 PM by the author.

Born-Digital, Die-Digital

WhiteMetalCandle-Flame animated GIF via You Mattered In 2008, John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, expanding on the work of Marc Prensky ’ s “ Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, ” [ 2 ] popularized the term “ born digital ” to refer to a genesis of Westerners born after 1980 who “ live much of their lives online, without distinguishing between the on-line and the offline. rather of think of their digital identity and their real-space identity as separate things, they just have an identity ( with representations in two, or three, or more different spaces ), ” and who “ feel as comfortable in on-line spaces as they do in offline ones. They don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate think of their hybrid lives as anything remarkable. Digital Natives haven ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate known anything but a biography connected to one another, and to the earth of bits, in this manner. ” [ 3 ] Rather than only referring to “ objects ” whose origins are the digital : web site, blogs, GIFS, born-digital besides means homo materials : artifacts, profiles, text trails, search histories, our lived lives—with “ digital, ” problematically, a synonym for anything “ Internet-related. ” Palfrey, Gasser, and Prensky ’ second perspective is by and large one that champions the born-digital by considering their interests and methods—facilitated by technology—to be unstoppable advance.

By 2016, born-digital has moved beyond those born in the 1980s and early-1990s, those who transitioned into the Web 2.0 of the post-2000 tear, and alternatively, nowadays we must besides consider the possibility that the parentage of a new exploiter begins digitally. ampere soon as parents-to-be post their announcement ( more increasingly in a performative way via YouTube or other services ), featuring a sonogram photograph of the fetus, a new-user is born-digital—perhaps never just analogue. Parents will continue their trek via life-blogging the pregnancy, their training, and extra sonogram. finally, the child is born and there awaits an report and a profile for the new-user. Its digital baby footprint passively created by its parents—it will never know a choice. The new-user is born unto the digital and there excessively will it one day die, leaving behind a bequest that there never used to be : “ one-week previous, ” “ two-weeks old, ” death, and the beyond ( e.g. memorials ) .
Writing in the early 2000s, Prensky, concerned with department of education, describes two kinds of content—categories resulting from a “ digital singularity, ” [ 4 ] —they are Legacy and Future. Beginning with the Future, in other words the subject of the Internet : software, apps, social networks a well as more transhumanist topic count : “ robotics, nanotechnology, genomics. ” [ 5 ] Legacy contented ( e.g. “ reading, writing, arithmetical, coherent think, understand writings and ideas of the past ” ) [ 6 ] implies outdated systems, practices, and traditions, which, we are told are of lesser importance to the born-digital. Legacy content is not inevitably to be discarded, though, alternatively, Prensky argues for teaching Legacy message “ in the language of the Digital Natives. ”
In 1997, 18 % of american households reported having Internet access at home. This count increased to 41.5 % in 2001, and by 2013, 74.4 % reported Internet use. [ 7 ] From 2005 to 2015, the share of all Internet-using adults who use social networks rose 66 %. [ 8 ] With the increase of users in these social-spaces, particularly those digital-immigrants ( Prensky, 2001 ), comes an increase of those “ dying-digital. ” “ As Facebook adds more users and its current exploiter base grey, 580,000 US based Facebook users will pass away in 2012 and 2.89m will die global, ” wrote Nathan Lustig, co-founder of Entrustet ( nowadays Secure Safe ) an on-line service that managed “ digital assets. ” [ 9 ] The Digital Beyond updated these numbers estimates 972,000 U.S. Facebook users will die in 2016. [ 10 ] One must understand that Google Maps death-scenes are destined to become a omnipresent phenomenon—along with social network cemeteries. Over time, we may know more dead than we know living among our friends list .
Unsurprisingly, discussions of the digital afterlife, while increasing, have been taken on chiefly by legal scholars and data companies—monetization of identity being their main concern. Too few wonder about philosophical, psychological, social, and political ramifications of digital death. Although initially caught napping with the images of Barrera, Google has created Inactive Account Manager ( aka Google Death ) [ 11 ] for the posthumous handling of accounts, and Facebook now has a “ friendly ” help section titled “ What will happen to my explanation if I pass away, ” [ 12 ] which offers commemoration, bequest contacts, and permanent wave deletion options .
Proving one's death to Facebook. Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 2.02.38 PM by the author. Borrowing Prensky ’ s Legacy and combining it with the bequest referred to by legal scholars, we might understand a raw digital bequest, one that considers death itself as outdated— “ Death is ill-timed, ” reads the style of transhumanist militant Gennady Stolyarov II ’ s children ’ randomness book ( 2013 ). [ 13 ] The quantify self, self-surveilled, shared and archived among respective platforms is far processed down to the bits and pieces of our genetic makeup. The analog-user dies ; the digital-user lives constantly. The mind that the parts make up the unharmed is nothing newfangled, or as Ray Kurzweil theorizes, the data might resurrect the drug user ( i.e. embodiment ), but possibly the born-digital user never dies or never was pulp. If a child ’ south entire life began and ended with a Facebook account, then, problematically, who owns their animation ? Who owns their bodies and their autobiography, and who might resurrect the dead ?
Cover illustration of Death is Wrong via
Timothy Leary, who saw the Internet and Web 1.0 as proto-transhumanist vehicles for immortality, championed “ designer death. ” leary planned to webcast his suicide over the Internet. Any sense of authorization, today, may just be farther commodization of the self from life to afterlife—perpetual users whose accounts are still used to share and promote contentedness by corporations or the likes of In the spirit of Leary, alone services like the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, or the nowadays defunct, Seppukoo, might give real number ownership over one ’ south digital afterlife by offering users the opportunity to commit digital suicide : passwords and photos are changed ( made unavailable to the drug user ), accounts are taken off public searches, friends, notifications, are all murder and arsenic much of the digital trail as potential is extinguished. resurrection is made impossible .
Below is a blue-ribbon list of death-spaces, a starter-kit for dying-digital. The standards, aesthetics, and problems range well as entrepreneurs seek chiefly the business of death—much different than the suicide choice :

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.45.40 PM by the author.

  • Retro design and content, YouMattered (est. 2014) allows users to customize a memorial for the deceased. Users have the option to pay their respects by choosing to: light a candle, place a flower, offer a prayer, upload a picture, and share a story. Candles are animated gifs, and there are various styles to choose from. In this example, featuring the developer’s mother, adult contemporary music plays along (a reminder of an earlier Web 1.0, when midi reigned supreme) while flower petals softly fall across the screen. Each memorial is social web friendly, capable of feeding content back and forth, and making it easy to share the dead. Also interesting is the inclusion of a “Related Memorial” option where effectively the dead may network.

Candle options via You Mattered. Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.02.11 PM by the author.

    • Various sites, like Dead Social (est. 2012), allow users to create an account and author social media messages or e-mail that will be sent out posthumously by the service. Stay in touch with your loved ones forever—or however long you paid for a subscription service in the case of many of these services. Dead Social is launching version 2 on February 1st, 2016, and plans to provide 10,000 new accounts with their version 3.
  • But, what happens when “media” dies? There once was a thriving Yahoo! Chat community, but it is now overrun by bots, and once there was Friendster, then MySpace, and now Facebook. We must consider the life and death of media if they are to be the executors of our legacy. There is a sense of naive foreverness that accompanies the user’s confidence in the digital network. In the case of Death Switch (est. 2006), one of the older digital afterlife services providing posthumous emails, the company folded. They write: “Users who purchased a premium membership after October 22nd, 2014 will receive a refund for their current year’s subscription. Users will receive one last round of ‘reminder’ messages. Users who do not respond to these messages will have their switches triggered at the scheduled time before their service ends. You will be able to access your ‘My Messages’ page to retrieve your messages and attachments until December 1st, 2015.” Clearly, it is possible that the services, too, may not live to tell your story.
  • A blog discussing the issue of digital life and death. For more examples, visit their Online Services List.

* example by the author, 2016 .
[ 1 ] hypertext transfer protocol : //
[ 2 ] hypertext transfer protocol : // % 20- % 20Digital % 20Natives, % 20Digital % 20Immigrants % 20- % 20Part1.pdf
[ 3 ] hypertext transfer protocol : //
[ 4 ] “ This alleged “ singularity ” is the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades of the twentieth hundred. ”
[ 5 ] ibid
[ 6 ] ibid
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