An online service I'd like to see

| Friday, September 4, 2009
Two advance apologies
1) Sorry if this seems morbid or creepy or whatever.
2) Sorry if someone already thought of this.

A while back I was thinking "What if I died?" We're right on track for something really emo now, right? Let's up the ante "Would anyone even know I was gone?"

Let's shift to the general location of my point: the internet and let's refine the questions. "Would people online know if I died?" No. "Would people online know I was gone?" Yes. That's the difficulty of online relationships, not the death thing, but the limited knowledge. At the start of semester the wiring to my room wasn't working, so I couldn't log in to WoW and I was reluctant to do any blogging not on my computer. I did eventually put up a saved one with my friend's laptop.

Going back to the morbidity: if you died would your RL friends know? Probably. They hear from another friend or they might even know your family. This doesn't mean they like your family, but if your various social spheres know of the existence of each other, they can at least share some information like "Hey, I've not seen Jeff in a while, do you know what's up?" "Yea, he got hit by car." Even if you only hang out with friends in a very specific context, they can still know what happened elsewhere.

Online it isn't like that. When we're on we have various states: sick, tired, happy, sad, etc. When we're offline, we're just not there. Without the individual logging in and saying something, there's no communication. So getting back to the start, if I died, no one would know. It would be indistinguishable from me suddenly quitting blogging and WoW.

I want to change that. My idea would be a sort of online will. If I die, here's my account info or my blogger password or whatever; please tell these people. Some highly monitored company would store your passwords and names and people to contact and would inform them if you died or went into a coma or that sort of thing, you could specify the conditions. For privacy it might be multiple companies each holding a separate set of information; Locations, Passwords, People to Contact and they could only combine a set when they had proof such as from a doctor.

Well that got kinda dark and creepy. Sorry. It's Larisa's fault.

We make traces, but it's hard to trace what happened when we stop making traces.


LarĂ­sa said...

It's not creepy. I wouldn't be surprised if this service already existed somewhere or if someone invented it. People should take the consequences and realize that there is a virtual world to handle as well. I've read some articles about blogs and facebook pages that get deserted when the owner dies and the relatives not knowing what to do about it since they never talked about it or left a will.

It would be a good thing to think about and decide those things. Unfortunately I think very few people come around to do it. We ignore the fact that we're not shielded paladines as much as we can.

Stabs said...

Raph Koster has shown otherwise.

You've probably seen it before, it was a seminal piece of thinking about virtual worlds.

It's still very true though.

As for myself I'd feel very upset if I heard that you or one of the other bloggers died. I consider you all friends.

Klepsacovic said...

@Larisa: I guess it's a problem that we think it's morbid or defeatist to plan for death. If you've seen anything about the health care debate here, end of life planning is being spun as "death panels" that encourage, or even force, the elderly to die sooner.

@Stabs: I'd not seen that, thank you very much for the link.

Sweetcherrie said...

That's a dutch version of it.

Took some searching, but an English version.

No costs, and mostly honoring:

And yes, in this day and age it might be time to consider this sort of stuff perhaps.

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