Week 4 – Statement and Research

Thesis Statement

We live in a world where digital data has become part of our life and in fact has become part of our identities and memories. The whole history of a person can be saved in digital files and in a non tangible form. This social change affects not only our lifetime but also influences the death and the inheritance of personal belongings. The large amount of digital data we leave behind can possibly exist for eternity and raises the question of ownership, curation and storage.

Whereas the web has followed up quickly with death related services [1], a meaningful way to pass on digital memories to friends, family or the next generation has been unaddressed. Recent research shows that in the real world people use rituals, artifacts and memorials to be remembered by loved ones [2] and little has been done to understand, address and translate that issue to the digital world.

With the social change towards a digitized world in mind I want to explore the relationship between people and the material and immaterial things that can be inherited. I want to investigate how we wish to be remembered by future generations and what part of the digital representation of ourselves we deem as valuable to bequeath to others.

Research Plan

The goal of this work is a service experience that is designed with the intent to outlive the owner in order to be inherited and that it might carry on a reflection of the owners identity. With this goals in mind I want to divide the research in 3 target areas of investigation.

1. Relationship with Digital:

In this context it might be interesting to find out if people have nostalgia for digital environments like old websites or desktops and if rituals might be part of that relationship. How is getting something digital important to someone?

2. Digital Identity

With new technologies people are collecting more and more data that joined together are a
digital representation of there self.

  • Public Space – Examples are Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and published articles on public sites
  • Personal Public Space – Examples are blogs, own websites, portfolios etc.
  • Personal Own Space – Examples are folders with pictures,music and written word documents etc. on own computer
  • Passive Space – Content that is not written by the user but by others

3. Bequeath Content

The research will consider how the real words rituals apply to digital?
What preparation are made by people to bequeath content? What is the processes around
burial, memorial, the will? Are requirements needed to put the digital life in order?

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