The web matters to you even before you are born and even after you are dead

I am currently reading “Untangling The Web” by Aleks Krotoski. She makes the point that the web has a record of information about us, not just while we are alive and using it, but often earlier and later.

Many parents now open a Facebook page for their expected child even before the baby is born. This can record scans of the foetus, details of the course of the pregnancy, and comments from family and friends. Such Facebook pages go on, after the birth, to record lots of detail including sleeping and eating habits and progress on walking an talking. It is a rich source of personal data that no adult alive ever had.

My own granddaughter had a Facebook page months before she was born and, since her birth, it has been updated every couple of days.

At the other end of life, we now have lots of experience of web users dying but information created by them reminding online and even being supplemented. The deceased’s Facebook page may be taken over by a relative, family and friends, may add tributes, and on anniversaries of the death family and friends can note that the deceased is still in their minds. Krotoski recommends that wills now include provision for handling of what she calls “digital assets”.

I have a huge web site, most of which can and should remain online after my death. My will makes provision for a friend to announce my death on the site and continue to curate the site for as long as he thinks appropriate.


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