Archive for the ‘digital afterlife’ tag

The Digital Afterlife – What happens to our data when we die?   no comments

Posted at 11:27 am in Uncategorized

As an undergraduate, I wrote my dissertation on the surrender of secrecy on social networking sites with a focus on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Through studying two age cohorts I discovered that young people, so called ‘digital natives’, often used their respective social networking profiles as a means to both establish and experiment with their emerging identities in different ways. On the other hand, older participants, aged between 45 and 50, took a very functional approach to social networking online.

Throughout my study all participants talked of uploading information like family photos, home movies and personal messages and achievements. However, not one participant talked about the future of their online profiles – no one seemed to realise, or be concerned by, the fact that they were moving their future heirlooms into more or less solely digital form through services like Facebook, YouTube and Gmail.

A rich chronicle of life is being created online and therefore I am interested in digital death and legacy. Do we have the right to be forgotten? Who now owns our memories? As, for the first time, users begin to pass away, who should have control over the data they leave behind, especially data that is so sentimental and personal?

So, I choose to look at this topic through the eyes of Law and Anthropology.



Law, I believe, can provide insight into the rights of users and be progressive in determining new legislation for the future.

(Really I know nothing about Law so I hope to be more articulate with this soon…)



I’m anticipating an Anthropological approach to be entirely different to Law – I have briefly studied a little Anthropology in the past and believe that it’s field-based, subjective approach could provide some useful insight to how users might feel about the real and digital deaths of those they love. Similarly, they have their own digital death to consider… Should physical and digital death be synonymous?


To conclude, I hope to bright together a discipline I consider to be objective, Law (please correct me if I’m wrong!), with one that appears entirely subjective, Anthropology.

Written by Amy Lynch on October 12th, 2013

Tagged with , ,