Unit 10 – Brief 1: Rest in Pixels

To consider what people contribute online, what they leave behind and what is the potential of their online presence beyond their own existence.

People contribute a lot online, you have blogs, tweets, status, dating sites, online banking, forums, flickr, videos, photos, job sites etc.
So within this there is a lot rubbish and litter of things that aren’t really important and perhaps would not be important after someones death. When I look at what I have contributed and what others have, it is clear that you can archive it so that it is on your laptop or on an external hard drive so that if I died people would have access to my things. However I don’t really feel that my posts are really of that much value to my family if I die… This leads me onto another area of investigation. If we record and save everything is this because we are afraid of being forgotten or maybe forgetting someone else?

Within the internet especially social media sites, people have taken it upon themselves to create memorial pages, groups etc. This creates a very public space for people to grieve about their loss as well as comfort others who are experiencing the same loss.

When someone dies, they obviously no longer add to a network. They are dormant. Their space, which depending on the usual activity of the user, would become completely static. They no longer interact with the other people on the site, the connections around this deceased user keep moving, but this connection is at a dead end.

I am interested in this shift of activity and interaction, how the network deals with a loss of an active member. Previously the interactions were two way, but now they are only going in one direction. This change in interaction also leads onto another area to investigate. If the interaction/s are forced to change because a member is no longer able to respond, then how do the active members deal with this? Because these connects can be other on and offline, does that mean that the way people mourn now changes as they have a space to do so. As well as do people chose an online space to mourn as they have also lost a person literally in this environment too?

One of the starting questions on the brief was “what does death on the internet look like?” and in terms of what I am looking at – interaction/networks etc. I feel that it looks a bit like this drawing below.

As you can see on the left, this is the before, the interactions are going both ways. Then on the right the interactions are one way. I also did not include all the “people” to connect back as some people don’t wish to make reference to, or write to a deceased person online.

There is a lot to get my head around, and I am not 100% sure yet if I am going to stick with this intention, it may change after our group discussion tomorrow. But I do feel that I am at a good starting point of what death on the internet is like.


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