Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Digital Footprints

Recently a long-lost friend passed away.  Every other day or so, I'd login to Facebook and, among other things, I'd check her page.  Part of it was a desire to connect.  It's hard when you're so far away.  Part of it was to read the beautiful things people came to write about her impact on them, and part of it was to make sure everything was going as well as could be for her daughter.  Today I went to her page and she simply no longer existed.  Poof.  Gone.  Just like that.

It started me thinking about our digital footprints.  No longer is it sufficient for my important things to be stuffed into a file cabinet or safety deposit box.  My finances are online with my electronic banking and credit card accounts.  Even cable and my car payments are online.  Professionally I'm on LinkedIn and personally I have the obligatory Facebook and Twitter accounts.  My pictures are up on Shutterfly, Flickr and Picasa.  Every aspect of my life has a digital footprint.

And while I'm alive, these bits and pieces are a part of me.  These are the pieces that help define me and make me who I am.  Make me whole.  But when I'm gone, what will it be?  I'll not be here, but bits of my fractured self will liter the digital stream.  I will be nowhere and I will be everywhere.   Who will disable and remove my accounts?  Do I want them removed?  Or do I want remnants left behind?  It was comforting to go to my friend's page, but the thought of me lingering posthumously sounds not right either.

Do you think about this?  Do you remain or do you go?  How do you manage your information so that if something happened, your digital footprints would be cared for?
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