I love the web. Too much, perhaps. I keep a list of all my accounts: the URLs and associated passwords. Yipes! There are dozens of accounts. Unbelieveable. I love to try stuff, but this is ridiculous.
The never-ending newness of the web is exhausting. Apps and websites are exploding into an ever-expanding universe of information mangle-ment. I look at the names and honestly cannot remember what the accounts are/were for. There are even sites for which I cannot match password with ID. Woe is me.
I have evolved a core site set. Twitter, Facebook, my bank, a news site or two, Google, YouTube, etc. The usual. Stuff I use day-to-day.
Other stuff is more problematic: my own websites, for example. I blog, therefore, I am is the way it goes. Vanity sites (just because, for joining I got a free set of spiffy business cards); a storage site to store my copious amounts of images and other media that I can link to my other sites; a clipping service, my photos, my backup service; another service to track my passwords to other services and my stuff. Good gravy, man! I dominate the web!
Where is this going? This is digital me. I’m invested in the web. It is a joyous, meander through Elysian fields of fun and frolic. Profiles, assets, liabilities, stories, accomplishments, mistakes, failures, emails, scans and records. Almost a life’s worth. Stored, secure, shareable. What happens when digital.me is all that’s left of me?
I could set a date when, THAT’s IT. The end. Close my accounts. Shut down. Drop out. Back it up. Download. Disconnect. If I have the mental and physical wherewithal to schedule such an event; I will deliberately phase out and fold up my digital tent, as it were.
But this is no morbid rant. I’m not trying to bring you down, dear reader. There’s a huge part of me that wants a digital legacy to remain. Digital immortality is a possibility though it may not be a conscious option. You never know when you’re going to go; my life could be cut short.
I realize, I don’t own my content necessarily ( I never read the sign-up agreement in my lust to try the latest service out). I understand that Facebook might not ‘really’ delete my info and retain it for marketing / intelligence purposes post-exit. So will other services. In so doing, though, they may disassociate my account ID with that body of content. My websites may be archived due to disuse or for lack of storage space. For whatever reason.
So, what if someone wants to leave a digital legacy? To leave a sample of themselves for future generations. Wouldn’t we love to have had leftover websites by the Romans, Henry VIII, Genghis Khan, the coal miners of the Dunsmuir era on Vancouver Island (1900 – 1913), Marilyn Monroe? Will my digital diary live on?
Can my family, while sorting through my digital papers claim rights to my sites? Gain access to my passwords if no recorded list lies before them? Can I leave them in my Will? Some accounts were ‘free’, some retained via subscription; can they be retained by my heirs if they assume account responsibility? Are Facebook & Twitter obligated to provide them at least a copy of my site info? What should I prepare to prepare for leaving my digital legacy?
What rights do we have? To see that are sites remain in place, as part of our estates to future generations. Where are those services? How can we be assured that our stories, images, impressions and opinions can be passed to our families and to others if we so choose? Are there legal provisions for doing so? What are our rights? What are the responsibilities of the service providers; the Facebooks, the Twitters. This is the era of the internet and social media. How social is it?