Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Digital Remains

Finding a late relative's correspondence, snapshots, or diary tucked away in a drawer can make a genealogist giddy. But what will our descendants find in our drawers when we're gone? Probably very little, since most of our corresponding these days is done electronically, and much of our productive lives is spent online.

Michele Gauler—a student at the Royal College of Art—sees a day when friends and family will head to the Web to trace their dearly departed's digital footprints. In her project "Digital Remains," she imagines that those close to the deceased will hold the key to unlocking these virtual archives.

Personal access keys are used to remotely log on to the digital remains of a person and receive their data on our own digital devices. Based on data tags and meta data, search algorithms dig through a deceased person's data, presenting us with content that is most likely relevant to us. For instance, a photograph from a holiday we spent with the person 10 years ago, or the person's favourite piece of music which they typically listened to while writing e-mails.

Access keys, when placed next to a mobile phone, MP3 player or computer, establish a bluetooth connection with the device and trigger a remote log-on to the digital remains of the deceased person they are linked to, allowing a person to access the dead person's data. [Link]
I would make one suggestion: the family genealogist should be allowed an "all-access" key, capable of opening every door and exposing every secret. Just remind me to erase my own footprints before I shove off.

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