Your Digital Afterlife: The Artifacts of Your Life
You may not realize it but you’re the exact cause of this cultural shift to digital things. You, along with millions of others, are creators and collectors, curating a rich collection of digital things around you.
It’s easy to assume that your digital things aren’t significant. After all, they take up virtually no physical space and you don’t see them everyday. But as you live an increasingly digital life, this collection grows. It’s more than just computer data, it’s a set of artifacts that has the potential to chronicle your life.
Throughout this chapter, envision yourself at the center of a digital universe of content. We’ll explore each part of it, how much you have, and where it’s stored.
Within the universe of your digital things, you’re most closely connected to the things that you create. People have created things for centuries, that’s nothing new. Digital technology, however, has changed the way we create and the amount we create. You probably create new digital things everyday, but if asked to name all those things you probably couldn’t. That’s because we don’t think twice about many of them.
If asked to think of the things you have created, you would probably list things you spent a lot of time and energy on. Maybe it’s a song or the perfectly shot photograph. These works of art are certainly things you created and are important parts of your digital content, but there’s much more than that to consider.
Do you think of your Facebook profile as your creation? How about your tweets (brief status updates posted on twitter.com)? These new means of expression are a part of the Internet called Web 2.0 or the Social Web. It includes websites that would not exist without the content that its users create. These sites actually encourage us to create content. Some reward us in some way for our contributions. Others rely on social pressure from our friends to participate.
Individually and cumulatively, the small things you create are an important part of your digital content. Small things like Facebook status updates, tweets, and blog comments should all be considered. You probably couldn’t name all of these individually, but they are connected back to you via an identifier like an email address or user name.
Of course, you need to consider the more significant digital things you create, like photos, emails, and videos too. Not to mention those things that you may have converted from analog by recording or scanning them.