In the Event of My Death

31 Oct 2008 - 11:17am
5 years ago
20 replies
8407 reads
Andy Polaine
2008

Something I've been thinking about for a while is what will happen to
all my digital assets - all my online accounts, etc. - when I die.
More particularly, if I die suddenly in an accident, etc.

I own all the domains for my family's name and the hosting accounts
they (and several clients) all use and, like many of you, have many
online accounts for everything from banking through to Twitter. This
is a growing problem - I imagine the laws regarding power of attorney,
etc. vary all over the world and many online services are bound by
different agreements depending on territory, etc.

Does anyone know of a service out there that handles something like
this? I can't imagine anything that wouldn't ultimately depend on
telling someone the master password and thus potentially being a
massive security compromise. How would you go about it? I've been
thinking of a "nuclear launch" style mechanism where two people have
to agree to unlock something for it to happen - say each side had only
one half of the password. But who would you give it to? Someone you
trust that closely might also go down in the same plane/car/train with
you.

Any thoughts? (And if there isn't such a thing, anyone got any
interest in trying to build one?)

Best,

Andy

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Andy Polaine

Research | Writing | Strategy
Interaction Concept Design
Education Futures

Twitter: apolaine
Skype: apolaine

http://playpen.polaine.com
http://www.designersreviewofbooks.com
http://www.omnium.net.au
http://www.antirom.com

Comments

31 Oct 2008 - 11:44am
Terry Fitzgerald
2008

Kick the "bit" bucket ??

--
Regards

Terry
http://www.linkedin.com/myprofile?trk=hb_side_pro

31 Oct 2008 - 11:54am
Meredith Noble
2010

Andy, you might be interested in this segment from CBC's great
digital culture show, Spark:

http://www.cbc.ca/spark/blog/2008/04/full_interview_derek_k_miller_1.html

(CBC = Canadian Broadcasting Corporation... Canada's BBC or NPR)

It's an interview with a man who has cancer and is thinking about
his digital legacy.

"One of the things that Derek has been thinking about his digital
legacy, and what should happen to our web presence when we die. Do we
need to appoint a digital executor to oversee our online belongings?
Someone who would know all of your passwords and keep up the payments
for your domain name, for example, so your site would live on even
after you have gone?"

I listened to it a few months back so don't remember details, but
I'm sure you'd find it interesting.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Nov 2008 - 6:13am
Andy Polaine
2008

Thanks for that, I'll have a listen.

I've been thinking about it quite a bit since my mother-in-law died a
couple of years ago. Her stuff was all analogue, so we could go
through all the old folders and boxes of documents and sort everything
out. I have so much digital stuff, a lot of which is protected by
passwords. Even on my own machine (and even getting into my own
machine) would be an issue.

But I'm not a security nor legal expert and I can imagine there might
be some issues and approaches that already exist that one could draw
upon. From a personal standpoint, the questions it raises for me is
who you would trust and whether you would trust a "digital executor"
or a third party company? How much would someone pay for, ahem,
lifetime membership?

Best,

Andy

On 31 Oct 2008, at 09:54, Meredith Noble wrote:

> Andy, you might be interested in this segment from CBC's great
> digital culture show, Spark:
>
> http://www.cbc.ca/spark/blog/2008/04/full_interview_derek_k_miller_1.html
>
> (CBC = Canadian Broadcasting Corporation... Canada's BBC or NPR)
>
> It's an interview with a man who has cancer and is thinking about
> his digital legacy.
>
> "One of the things that Derek has been thinking about his digital
> legacy, and what should happen to our web presence when we die. Do we
> need to appoint a digital executor to oversee our online belongings?
> Someone who would know all of your passwords and keep up the payments
> for your domain name, for example, so your site would live on even
> after you have gone?"
>
> I listened to it a few months back so don't remember details, but
> I'm sure you'd find it interesting.

1 Nov 2008 - 7:40am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

This is a good topic - designing for death.

There is a resource called http://www.assetlock.net/
There is a review of this service at:
http://www.assetlock.net/elements/press/sfgate.pdf

What are the issues with designing for death? Here are a few:

1. Financial information that heirs may need.
2. Back from the grave - there have been movies about people who died, but
left a series of letters or videos for their loved ones. Seems a little
eerie, but I figure that my wife my enjoy my odd sense of humor or pithy
sayings when I'm gone.
3. Revenge :-). You can have letters sent to people who had irritated you
at some point in your life.
4. The letters you send to people explaining something that was always a
mystery ("so you didn't marry me because I have white rugs" :-).
5. Photo collections on disk or online.
6. Cancelling various services no longer wanted.
7. Password storage.
8. Inheriting digital access
9. Important update information is more and more likely to be done online
(to save resources) so perhaps we should be designing UIs that allow a
second trusted person to receive membership and registration information.
10. Access to emails after death - this is trickier since emails can mix
business and personal stuff and if you are in the military sending emails
through military servers, who owns those messages?

I'm 58 and have less than 20 years left if I go by the morbidity tables so I
started thinking about this a few weeks ago and have started pulling
together all my passwords and main resources onto a terabyte drive that will
go in a safe and will be updated 4 times a year or so.

Good topic.
Chauncey
On Sat, Nov 1, 2008 at 7:13 AM, Andy Polaine <apolaine at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks for that, I'll have a listen.
>
> I've been thinking about it quite a bit since my mother-in-law died a
> couple of years ago. Her stuff was all analogue, so we could go through all
> the old folders and boxes of documents and sort everything out. I have so
> much digital stuff, a lot of which is protected by passwords. Even on my own
> machine (and even getting into my own machine) would be an issue.
>
> But I'm not a security nor legal expert and I can imagine there might be
> some issues and approaches that already exist that one could draw upon. From
> a personal standpoint, the questions it raises for me is who you would trust
> and whether you would trust a "digital executor" or a third party company?
> How much would someone pay for, ahem, lifetime membership?
>
> Best,
>
> Andy
>
>
>
> On 31 Oct 2008, at 09:54, Meredith Noble wrote:
>
> Andy, you might be interested in this segment from CBC's great
>> digital culture show, Spark:
>>
>> http://www.cbc.ca/spark/blog/2008/04/full_interview_derek_k_miller_1.html
>>
>> (CBC = Canadian Broadcasting Corporation... Canada's BBC or NPR)
>>
>> It's an interview with a man who has cancer and is thinking about
>> his digital legacy.
>>
>> "One of the things that Derek has been thinking about his digital
>> legacy, and what should happen to our web presence when we die. Do we
>> need to appoint a digital executor to oversee our online belongings?
>> Someone who would know all of your passwords and keep up the payments
>> for your domain name, for example, so your site would live on even
>> after you have gone?"
>>
>> I listened to it a few months back so don't remember details, but
>> I'm sure you'd find it interesting.
>>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

2 Nov 2008 - 12:46am
martinpolley
2007

Another issue -- how to inform people that you are only in contact with
online that you have passed on? A Final Tweet?

Cheers,

--
Martin Polley
Technical writer, interaction designer
+972 52 3864280
Twitter: martinpolley
<http://capcloud.com/>

On Sat, Nov 1, 2008 at 2:40 PM, Chauncey Wilson
<chauncey.wilson at gmail.com>wrote:

> What are the issues with designing for death? Here are a few:
>
>

2 Nov 2008 - 8:12am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

With access to a person's email, you could set up a "send once death
message". My wife and I were discussing this topic (she's a lawyer so
digital rights are part of her interests) and she said that part of the
electronic valut contents could be a final message to people who are part of
the electronic community. A few years ago, a very good friend of mine died
-- she had been a friend for about 30 years and we had kept in touch by
email and occasional double dates with our spouses. Her husband was a great
guy and we hit it off, but I was on his wife's email and not on his and I
found out later that I had been sending her messages after her death because
he didn't even think about turning off her email in his grief. After awhile,
I did a search when my emails were not answered and discovered her
obituary. She had a sudden and fatal re-occurrence of cancer and her
business email was left running until after her death.

I think that I will draft a message now - something about how I have died
and any responses may take an infinite amount of time :-).

Chauncey

On Sun, Nov 2, 2008 at 12:46 AM, Martin <martin.polley at gmail.com> wrote:

> Another issue -- how to inform people that you are only in contact with
> online that you have passed on? A Final Tweet?
>
> Cheers,
>
> --
> Martin Polley
> Technical writer, interaction designer
> +972 52 3864280
> Twitter: martinpolley
> <http://capcloud.com/>
>
>
> On Sat, Nov 1, 2008 at 2:40 PM, Chauncey Wilson <chauncey.wilson at gmail.com
> > wrote:
>
>> What are the issues with designing for death? Here are a few:
>>
>>
>

1 Nov 2008 - 7:47am
Alethea778
2008

I may shed a little light on this issue. In China, everyone gets and
ID card, with which the old password in bank can be eliminated and
reset. I myself forgot password of my bank acount for more than one
time. Then citizen ID card worked. I needn't know the password, cuz
the clerk will eliminate it and let me reset. And if my Mum goes to
bank for me, she just took both her and my ID card, then also work.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35136

1 Nov 2008 - 7:49am
Esteban Barahona
2006

7 pass deletion of hard drive;
then...
rebirth?!
seriously... the human population has to accept death.
I am fine with it.
update: i am on nirvaana.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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2 Nov 2008 - 3:36pm
Ericson deJesus
2008

It's an important topic and will become more relevant as we invest
more and more of ourselves into digital content. I have a concept
service I call "Horizons" :) that I hope to one day build. Before I
die.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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2 Nov 2008 - 5:21pm
Andy Polaine
2008

I'm surprised there's not more out there already.

On 2 Nov 2008, at 12:36, Ericson wrote:

> It's an important topic and will become more relevant as we invest
> more and more of ourselves into digital content. I have a concept
> service I call "Horizons" :) that I hope to one day build. Before I
> die.

2 Nov 2008 - 5:22pm
Andy Polaine
2008

On 1 Nov 2008, at 05:47, Alethea Woo wrote:

> I may shed a little light on this issue. In China, everyone gets and
> ID card, with which the old password in bank can be eliminated and
> reset. I myself forgot password of my bank acount for more than one
> time. Then citizen ID card worked. I needn't know the password, cuz
> the clerk will eliminate it and let me reset. And if my Mum goes to
> bank for me, she just took both her and my ID card, then also work.

Isn't that a massive security risk? Maybe I haven't understood how it
works properly.

Best,

Andy

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Andy Polaine

Research | Writing | Strategy
Interaction Concept Design
Education Futures

Twitter: apolaine
Skype: apolaine

http://playpen.polaine.com
http://www.designersreviewofbooks.com
http://www.omnium.net.au
http://www.antirom.com

2 Nov 2008 - 5:23pm
Andy Polaine
2008

On 1 Nov 2008, at 05:49, Esteban Barahona wrote:

> 7 pass deletion of hard drive;
> then...
> rebirth?!
> seriously... the human population has to accept death.
> I am fine with it.
> update: i am on nirvaana.

It's not about not accepting death - I'm quite fine with that. I'd
just like my family to be able to keep their domain name and not have
an enormous hassle with my passwords.

2 Nov 2008 - 8:55pm
Michael Micheletti
2006

On Sat, Nov 1, 2008 at 9:46 PM, Martin <martin.polley at gmail.com> wrote:

> Another issue -- how to inform people that you are only in contact with
> online that you have passed on? A Final Tweet?
>

Perhaps instead we should call that a Croak? :-)

Michael Micheletti

5 Nov 2008 - 11:12am
johnwromano
2008

My company is putting together a panel submission for SXSW. If you
think this topic deserves more attention, check it out:

http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1359

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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5 Nov 2008 - 2:27pm
Loren Baxter
2007

Morbid Facebook Newsfeed:
"John Doe has passed away"

Been wondering how that's going to happen for years, especially as the
highly-plugged in generation gets older.

Loren

-----
http://acleandesign.com

On Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 8:12 AM, John Romano <jromano at capstrat.com> wrote:

> My company is putting together a panel submission for SXSW. If you
> think this topic deserves more attention, check it out:
>
> http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1359
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35136
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

5 Nov 2008 - 6:20pm
brandon applefield
2008

What's crazy is that all of us who have posted her have had put some
previous thought into this idea, but a true solution is yet to be
seen. I think a major drawback to a system like this is the variable
use of different web services, including social networks, blogs,...

An ultimate solution to me would include the use of the OpenID
concept. Where there is one central entry location to the web, that
will allow the system to automatically archive your web activity and
footprint, in a sense a web scrapbook, with an emphasis on managing
accounts from all different web services.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35136

6 Nov 2008 - 4:04pm
Andy Polaine
2008

My guess is that a company like Agile with 1Password are in the best
position to implement this. I'm less certain about OpenID, which
whilst it feels like a great idea, just isn't really catching on
fast enough (maybe Google will help). You want a service to which all
your logins and passwords and other details are synced so that the
executor can just open them all up. Not just online stuff, but all
those crossover things like bank PINs, etc.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35136

6 Nov 2008 - 4:05pm
Andy Polaine
2008

Of course - if I had an investor, I'd be developing it ;-)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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6 Nov 2008 - 5:09pm
migdesigner
2008

Hey everyone,

I have been following this thread very closely, and I feel it
appropriate to comment after Andy's last post. I am leading a
fully-funded startup that has been conceiving, documenting, and
developing an online application for this very purpose. : ) We are
*very* close to launching and extremely excited to see the clear
desire for this among a group like this. Our product will entail some
attributes that may not even have been conceived of by people here...
or maybe they have. ; ) Regardless, it is a very exciting time and I
am motivated even more by the disscusion here.

As a UX director for many years, this is the sort of topic I am very
passionate about, and one that can have a clear impact on how the
internet is constructed, and supports users' content.

@John Romano- I would love to discus the panel you are assembling for
SXSW more as well.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35136

17 Mar 2009 - 2:44am
martinpolley
2007

I see someone has built a service called Death Switch that will send out
emails if you die. See this Lifehacker post:

http://lifehacker.com/5170883/death-switch-sends-out-emails-upon-your-demise

Cheers,

Martin Polley
Technical writer, interaction designer
+972 52 3864280
Twitter: martinpolley
<http://capcloud.com/>

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