Posts Tagged ‘deceased’

One year on…

Posted on: May 8th, 2013 by Fransgaard 4 Comments

I’ve had my doubts on whether I should publish this article or not, but at the end of the day it helps me move on personally, so here it is:

Today, 8th of May, it has been 1 year since my wife passed away.

She was very active online and shortly after she died I wrote an article about how I’ve approached dealing with her digital estate.

The article has taken on a life of it’s own. It has been shared by charities, it has been linked to by Jeremiah Owyang and been featured on both BBC Radio 4 and Colourful Radio (yesterday).

… but none of this is because of me or my article. It is because this is an issue that is becoming increasingly relevant as the online population is growing up and getting older.

The Internet is part of our lives now. Our online profiles are part of who we are now.

One year on, where am I with my wife’s digital estate?

  • My wife’s hobby blog remain live for a couple of reasons; Some of her articles are truly unique online; the site still have a fair amount of visitors; I’m using it as a communication channel to her extended network (but the site does very visibly state she has passed away).
  • Her Flickr account remains open as it feeds many of the blog articles.
  • In January, I closed one of her busiest channels, her Twitter account, as I felt I’ve been able to notify all her connections there and deal with all requests from her Twitter network.
  • And ofcourse her email account remain open as it will be the last thing I close down.

What problems have I faced?

I think the one issue that stands out has been unsubscribing from emailing lists she had signed up to. Roughly half unsubscribe functions have simply not worked. After three or more attempts I have listed these as spam to keep them out of her inbox.

I wish there was an industry standard for dealing with this.

On a different note, I understand, and sympathise with, Yahoo’s stand on not giving anybody, not matter relation, access to a deceased person’s email, ever. But there has to be a practical middle ground.

What if they could give access to email accounts post death? So you, as an heir, can use it for practical purposes such as closing down other digital accounts, but without exposing the past, unless the deceased have given permission in a will?

Final thoughts

Jolyon Jenkins, the BBC4 journalist who interviewed me, ask me one question, which I had considered, but never thought about putting down in words. He asked:

Have you considered the legal implications of what you are doing? Breach of different digital providers’ terms and conditions and such?

The answer is: I have. I felt I had the moral right to access my wife’s accounts as she left me her passwords, but I did set myself some ground rules, which was:

  • Do not read any of my wife’s emails or direct messages from before she passed away.
  • Do read and reply to all messages arriving after she passed away.
  • If replying via any of her digital profiles always clearly identify that it is not her, but me who is replying.
  • Update any digital profiles to broadcast she is dead either with auto-response or by updating any descriptions.
  • Close profiles as soon as I am 100% positive they are no longer needed… but not a second before.

…And prepare. I am eternally grateful for my wife making preparations in terms of writing down passwords and talking to me about what she wanted to happen with her digital estate (such as “Close down my Facebook account straight away”).

I hope it will be a long time before you have to deal with this yourself, but do prepare. Make a digital will to help those left behind in case you die first.

Here in the UK I’ve received an incredible amount of support and help with everything regarding my wife’s death… except her digital estate. I’ve had to figure that one out on my own, but not entirely alone as I’ve planned with my wife before she passed away.

Final final thought

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this as it is not really in the spirit of my wife’s practical ways of being… but…

Hug the ones you love. Don’t leave it to another day.

I did. And it has helped me moved on tremendously.

Ripples of you – Thoughts on Black Mirror episode “Be Right Back” based on personal experience

Posted on: February 15th, 2013 by Fransgaard 2 Comments

SPOILER WARNING: If you have not watched “Be Right Back” from Season 2 of “Black Mirror” I suggest you watch it first and come back here.

I lost my wife almost a year ago. She was very active online I have had to deal with her digital estate in an ethical, practical and sensitive way.

Another digital aspect I face on a daily basis is the digital memories of her: Photos, videos, emails, txt messages, Skype chats, sound memos etc

As I worked professionally with social media I have had my concerns about how healthy these digital memories is in the process of me moving on with my life. There are so many assets that combined provides a very immersed experience and as they are digital, they do not fade with time in the same way a real memory or a photograph would.

But that is my professional concern. As the private person, the widower, I am eternally grateful I have all these files. I can relive moments through film and photo, I can digest conversations we had through emails and instant messages and I can listen to her wisdom and wit in the sound files…

…all remembering how she was.

I just saw “Be Right Back” from the amazing “Black Mirror” series by Charlie Brooker, which takes the idea of digital memories much further and asks:

“What if we could create a virtual representation of a deceased person? And what if we could mold an artificial intelligence to behave and respond as a loved one lost?”

To me this is a very appealing idea.

My mind tells me this is wrong. This would never be the same person, this would never be my wife as she would have been.

But would she have been as she was if she had lived? No. She would have grown and changed over the years. Who’s to say a sufficiently “briefed” AI couldn’t evolve in a way true to the path laid before it by her past?

The digital memories I treasure the most are the sound files of her talking and I have considered whether I should make a Magic 8 Ball of answers from her… I didn’t as I knew it would just be 20 different guises of her saying “No”… but that’s besides the point.

The point is I have toyed with the idea of how I could use the assets, the memories to create something that will continue in the spirit of my wife.

I won’t. My mind tells me it is wrong. I am, and probably never will be, ready for a step like this.

But “Be Right Back” has given us a glimpse of what may happen the day our minds no longer say “No”. That day will come the day there’s nobody left who remember the world before digital.

Black Mirror – Be Right Back | BFI Q&A, with cast and crew

Another year of blogging: A summary of my 2012 articles

Posted on: December 22nd, 2012 by Fransgaard No Comments

Another year of blogging is coming to an end and as per previous years (2010 and 2011) here is a summary of of this year’s articles. This year I am grouping the articles into these themes; Social Enterprise, Personal branding, User ExperienceSocial media in general, Instagram rants, Other articles and Personal thoughts.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2013.

Social Enterprise

Personal branding

User Experience

Social media in general

Instagram rants

Personal thoughts