A colleague of mine, Ed Fowler, posted a link to an article on BBC about QR codes on gravestones linking to memorial webpages. Ed wasn’t keen in the idea and other people have voiced their concerns as well.
I think this is a fantastic idea with some amazing possibilities.
A new world of digital memorials
Social media is fast becoming a facet of our lives rather than being a separate digital world. Our digital selves are becoming part of our lives so naturally death, being part of life, is becoming part of social media as well.
In 2009 Facebook introduced the possibility to create memorial Facebook pages for deceased users. A clear sign of a maturity of the industry. Another example is BoingBoing journalist Xeni Jardin who is sharing her experiences fighting cancer on Instagram.
And the older the population becomes online, the more relevant it becomes to deal with serious issues like death and dangerous illnesses online.
Why QR on gravestones is a good and possibly therapeutic idea
With easy access to digital cameras and camcorders we have more content of people than ever before. It can be argued that vast amount of photos, videos, sound files etc may slow down the process of “letting go”, but speaking from personal experiences I for one am thankful for all the media available to me of deceased family members and friends.
Attaching these digital memories to a QR code on a gravestone makes a lot of sense to me as it collects these memories in one physical place which was always designed for remembrance: The graveyard.
It gives people a time and a place to revisit these memories leaving them space at home to move on with their lives without feeling guilty.
Why stop with a web page? Augmented memories
But why stop with a web page? Augmented reality equipment is fast becoming commonplace either on smart phones or initiatives like Google’s Project Glass so wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to attach virtual reality memories to a QR code as well?
In the second book “Spook Country” in William Gibson’s amazing “Blue Ant Trilogy” the protagonist is confronted with a world of locative art, augmented reality art attached to specific physical locations.
When I first read this I thought it would be an amazing art project to attach augmented reality art to the global geo-tagging treasure hunt hobby, Geocaching, but reading the BBC article I can see this idea work with the QR decorated gravestones.
Ofcourse medling with peoples grief is a delicate matter and I recognise there are dangers of “memorial trolls”, defacing or other digital vandalism. I for one think it is no different that idiots kicking over gravestones.
Real life vandalism hasn’t stopped us from using gravestones or have fond memories of loved ones by visiting them. And while digital vandalism is easier to commit (and commit remotely), I also believe it that a secure environment can be create to protect digital memorials.