Web Graveyard

Very few people I know blog about death. It is not a pleasant subject, and essentially, one reads blogs to be happy. But let’s face it, death is very real. Though cyberspace was once known as the virtual world, it is becoming increasingly real, and the overlap between online and offline is getting increasingly complex.

As bloggers, gamers, sellers, artists, online community participants – we are increasingly living very real online roles. We have our own avatars. Our own bookshelves. Our Facebook personae. Our LinkedIn profiles.

So what happens when we die? Death is sudden and unexpected for most people. What happens to their blogger friends? How do their Facebook or Orkut friends know? What about items they have put up on sale on eBay? What if they’re part of an open-source development community and are actively contributing to projects?

Don’t take this lightly. Sudden disappearance in the virtual world can cause a great deal of concern and have a wider impact than one may suspect. Our social world and legal systems take care of the eventualities in our offline life, but what about our online life when we really go offline? Who are the legal heirs of the copyrights to our creative digital content that we so meticulously safeguard?

CNET’s Technically Incorrect blog post inspired this post. It describes two website services that send out emails you’ve composed after you die. Deathswitch has a free account option with one recipient and no attachments. With a tagline of “Bridging Mortality”, it encourages you not to take your secrets to the grave. SlightlyMorbid does not have a free account, but has a “Free Trial”. 🙂

Startup Concept – WebGraveyard

How about WebGraveyard.com? When fully functional and out of beta, Web Graveyard can offer:French D-Day cemetary in Normandy

  • My GraveSpace – automatically imported social networking profiles like Facebook and MySpace
  • My Memoirs – a diary of your blogs on Blogger/Wordpress
  • My Graveiti – comments on your blog and by visitors to your eGrave
  • My YouTomb – the videos you’ve uploaded to YouTube
  • My Gallery – automatically imports your Picasa web albums, Flickr photos, etc.
  • My GraveRoll – links to eGraves of your friends
  • My Graveatar – automatically imported Gravatar
  • GrMail – automated email reminders of significant events in your lifetime like anniversaries

Premium Services

  • Users can import your birthdays and anniversaries into their Google Calendar or Outlook
  • High-resolution gallery of Tombstones
  • Templates for great Epitaphs
  • Users can drag and drop flowers on your eGrave from an abundant gallery of beautiful arrangements
  • GPod – automatically import and create a replica of your iPod
  • Your favorite last.fm playlist plays in the background when visiting your eGrave

Any takers for funding this startup? Any more ideas how it can be made more ‘user-friendly and productive’?


18 thoughts on “Web Graveyard

  1. Mahendra:

    What a great idea! 🙂

    It is a good thing we die before finding out exactly how popular or unpopular we are. Imagine if _nobody_ subscribes to one’s ‘deathfeed’! Or nobody turns up at the funeral/ wake/ 4th day/ 13th day etc… 😉

    PS: How about adding a function MyWill?

  2. I am all for My memoirs, My Graveiti, My YouTomb and GrMail.

    This is a great service and I sincerely hope someone wud come up with it in my lifetime, considering the number of times my blogs have had near-death experiences ensuing panic 😛

  3. I like this! I’m glad to know that I’m not weird, I’ve already planned for such eventuality! 😀 For the blog, I even have a post ready as draft, and my friend knows how to publish it. Oh, I like Shefaly’s idea about MyWill! 😉

  4. Just to clarify – only the two services I’ve linked to are ‘done’ – the Web Graveyard concept is mine, and not yet implemented. I guess any new web concept takes some getting used to – as is proved by Twitter. Who would’ve thought one would like to share one’s thoughts and activites on a moment-to-moment basis in the online world?

    On a serious note, yes this is creepy. That’s why I didn’t want the post to be purely sombre.

  5. Mahendra: I posted this on Twitter. You raise a super valid point and recently someone in my college in Cambridge died and I sent a note to the college to enable them to inform LinkedIn about it.

  6. Thanks Shefaly. Informing the college was quite conscientious of you. This is a real issue, but one that hasn’t been addressed by anyone yet.

  7. Mahendra, in my post which you linked, I mention not leaving transactions open for people. I think the social arrangement right now is for the friends and family to approach social networks and inform them of the death. LI for instance needs proof of death and will then suspend the account or remove it. In her case, it was a road accident so that was easy but I did not want to do it myself. So I informed the college..

  8. Wow
    good ur back to blogging ,
    To think of it how many people make a will?
    Maybe its because death seems to be a scary topic or that people really dont sit and ponder about it long enough.
    this is a rather interesting topic,and funny this is the first post i read in a long time on ur blog.. that too when i had put ur site in my blog graveyard (hidden links) as u has stopped blogging a while ago.

  9. Prax: Only fools and extremely self-obsessed people do not make a will or buy life insurance. Anyone who owns any assets must make a will if only to avoid internecine feuding after their death. It is also a way to share one’s wealth exactly as one likes. One could leave all money to one’s loyal maidservant rather than a relative, not a default position in the eyes of the law.

    In India, empirically speaking, intestate deaths are a major cause of familial breakdown because daughters’ rights to parental property are rarely honoured by sons and girls are generally reluctant to drag their siblings through the courts. Result? A general cooling off of relationships. :-/

  10. Shefaly , i was talking about india , maybe it is different in uk
    here lots of people have their finances in dissaray and many a times on their death the wives have to face nightmare situations ..i have helped at least half a dozen of people sort out their finances.
    worse only a few people make a will say less than 50% when it is really easy to make one

  11. Pingback: Web Graveyard Update « An Unquiet Mind

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