December 15, 2011

Will death no longer silence us in the future?

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Futures,Innovation — by xrematon @ 9:56 am
Tags: ,

This might appear rather unseasonal given that Christmas is about the celebrating a very special birth, but I am pondering the idea of death – in particular what it means now the virtual world is so important to us.

These somewhat macabre thoughts were triggered by having read an interesting piece from The Wall blog (well worth a read). It explores the idea of what happens to your facebook profile when you die – apparently three facebook users die every minute. There is a link to a fascinating TED talk by  Adam Ostrow where he takes these ideas further. He first highlights some of the services that now exist which allow you to create online tributes to be posted by loving friends and family after you snuff it (not sure I would be up for creating such a kind of shrine). What is more interesting is the idea that in the future there could also be services which would allow you to ‘live on’. They would look at all of the digital content you created in your lifetime – your tweets, blog posts, status updates etc – analyse it and then work out what you would be likely to do next. There are already services that post tweets in your personal style.

As Ostrow observes, it raises interesting questions about immortality. To me, it also makes me think about whether what goes online truly represents who we are. Perhaps this is a generational thing – I have a very limited presence on facebook and my tweets are pretty dull. But for those whose social lives are seamlessly organised and experienced on and offline, it kind of makes sense.

And to be honest, thinking about the analogue equivalent – photo albums – before the advent of carefree digital snapping, photos were often staged and unnatural. None of us can resist a bit of posing, regardless of the medium.

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