Digi Domi

Sharing my passion for technology and learning.

‘@Lilly_Stardust has passed away’ (a musing not a notification)

I was just eating a lovely blueberry muffin when a slightly morbid thought popped into my head, will my Last Will and Testament include a page of logins?

My grandfather past away at the end of August, and my parents have been left with his address book so they can contact his friends and family located across the globe, who would not have seen the notice of his passing in the local newspaper. But it has made me think, my address book is mostly contained within my social media accounts. Therefore will my Will have to contain a page of usernames and passwords for Facebook, Twitter, Google, Hotmail etc. so that my family can contact those connections of mine far away? Could there some day be a tweet that says ‘@Lilly_Stardust has passed away’?

And once the statuses have been updated and messages posted, what then? Would my family simply delete my presence? Or would they keep them as a sort of digital grave stone, where those who can not make it to my physical burial location can leave digital flowers and cards and come to remember me? Which one would I prefer?

Of course all of this hangs on me still using social media when I pass, and as I am hoping to live at least into my 80’s this gives me several decades left to live. It is entirely possible that Facebook will not live as long as me. But surely it would be replaced with some other form of digital communication that requires passwords and usernames (if we did move to DNA or finger print technology to log in to services that could bring about some very morbid situation indeed!)

When I was 16 I did in fact exchange password details with my best friend, in order that if one of us were to die the other could turn their mySpace page (that makes me sound older than I’d like) into a digital memorial with pictures and respond to any condolences messages left. Now my online presence is even bigger, and with the growth of social media,
I am even more interconnected with others. If I go it is not just my own profile pages effected. If all my accounts were deleted today, what about the documents I had shared with others via Google Docs, Dropbox, ISSU, Prezi or SlideShare? What about all of my pictures shared on social networking sites, Flickr and Picasa? Many of these are no longer stored on a physical hard-drive they exist entirely in the cloud. Do I really want to think that when I die, everything just goes?

Perhaps my family could simply re-purpose or rename my accounts? Which makes me think of the fake Bruce Willis/ iTunes story. The whole time I was thinking, why would he have to sue Apple to leave his iTunes collection to his family, could he not simply give them the login details and let them continue to use that account? Are Apple really going to keep track of the obituaries so they can delete accounts as soon as the associated user dies? That would be a very depressing department.

I guess as with my grandfather, now that he is gone there is little he can do to control what my parents and uncle do with anything he has left behind.  But it is strange to think about that final tweet, the very last ‘@ tag’…

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Social Media: A tool box

There are many tools available within the social media toolbox, and this can often lead those unfamiliar with these “new” technologies to feel overwhelmed.

As an e-learning specialist it is part of my job to explain the magnitude of tools to lecturers. And I would normally explain them as exactly that..tools. And just like you wouldn’t get a hammer out and then decide you need to put a nail into the wall, or get a screwdriver and try to use it to hammer a nail into the wall, nor should you use a social media tool without first having a job to do. Like needing to hang a picture and then selecting the hammer.

Of course there are many pros to social media as well. Primarily the four C’s, creating, collaborating, collecting and communicating.

Creating

Social media tools allow you to create content, whether this is an image, video blog post or anything else. By creating your own content you can then share and promote that content to others. This can be a great way to gain a following or fan base and even get work commissioned. A friend of mine was an illustration student and she uploaded her work to Flickr. Through this she got commissioned to do artwork and illustrations of individuals who had admired her work.

Collaborating

Tools such as Google Drive are great for working collaboratively. But social media can also be great for finding other to collaborate with. Through social networking sites, blogs and Twitter (both a social networking site and a micro-blogging site) you can find like minded others that you may wish to collaborate with. This is particularly true if your area of expertise is very niche, and perhaps there is no-one else in your geographical area that you can work with. Once you find someone to collaborate with, you can then begin your project using tools such as Skype for communication, and tools such as wiki’s to build collaborative documents.

Collecting

As well as creating your own content on social media you can also collect that content and other content from the web. This is most easily done via social bookmarking. Using tools such as Delicious and Pinterest to collect links to interesting sites, articles, videos or images. By collecting them together in one place, and organising them through tags and categories you build your own reference source, making it easy to share information you find valuable and refer back to it at a latter date should you need to.

Communicating

Of course, most people know the communication benefits social media offers, with the likes of Facebook offering many different methods, from public wall posts, to group forums and private messaging. But other sites also offer many great ways to communicate, including Google+ which allows you to organise contacts into ‘circles’ much like the circles we communicate in during our day to day lives. so you can easily send something to all of your family members, whilst hiding it from your friends and colleagues. Google+ also offers to hang outs feature, which is a great way to video conference, particularly if you are working as a group.  Communication via social media means that your communications flow into your other uses of the sites, rather than being a specific thing such as with traditional methods like email.

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