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Friday, 12 November 2010

From The Strange But True File - Social Media Beyond The Grave

For the person who has it all; a solar powered headstone from E-Tomb that stores your online presence after you have shuffled off this mortal coil.

Visitors to your grave can use bluetooth to access the information and the system is solar powered so while the memories might fade, the batteries never will.

Barring a complete solar eclipse, friends and relatives can gather around and be reminded of your online life.   They can also uploading their anecdotes about you to the tombstone. Now this might be both a good and bad thing especially if one considers that history is made by those who write it, or in this case, uploads it.

While you may think this a morbid use of technology it is not exactly a completely new concept.

An RFID Memorial Tablet is sold by Objecs and according to they sell their:

"Personal Rosetta Stone passive RFID-enabled data tags as an addition to a loved one's tomb stone - you can enter the person's name and choose some represetative symbols, perhaps a small epitaph via the web - then you embed the tag into a larger traditional tombstone"

But if all of above is a bit overwhelming you can try the simpler option provided by Facebook.  They were faced with the fact that from time to time a few of their 300 million members join the permanently departed.

Max Kelly in his Facebook blog explains how they have created the idea of "memorialized" profiles as a place where people can save and share their memories of those who've passed.

"When an account is memorialized, we also set privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search. We try to protect the deceased's privacy by removing sensitive information such as contact information and status updates. Memorializing an account also prevents anyone from logging into it in the future, while still enabling friends and family to leave posts on the profile Wall in remembrance."

The process is a simple one; there is an online form to fill in and alert the Facebook moderators.  When a profile has been memorialized, "sensitive" information, like phone numbers, are removed, and the profile is locked up to anyone who was not already a confirmed friend (non-friends can't find the profile in search queries, either).

However this service hasn't received universal acclamation and the best advice is to make sure your username and password is passed on to a close relative or acquaintance with your estate.  That way your Facebook profile can be added to by family members and not frozen by the company.

Meanwhile the designers of the E-Tomb, Huang Jianbo, Zhao Ting, Wang Yushan, Ran Xiangfei and Mo Ran, will be hoping that their hybrid tombstone / external hard-drive will bring them wealth in the material world.
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