There is an app for everything. Including death.
March 8, 2016 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Death apps promise to help people curate their afterlives From The Guardian: Death apps promise to help a person organize his or her entire online life into a bundle of digital living wills, funeral plans, multimedia memorial portfolios and digital estate arrangements. It could be the mother of all personal media accounts, designed to store all of a person’s online passwords in one spot, for a successor to retrieve after he or she dies.
posted by pjsky (17 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
My dad has been preparing for his own death for what feels like 30 years. I appreciate him doing it, because I would be pretty useless in handling his arrangements, but I do want to tell him sometimes that there may be better hobbies.
posted by maxsparber at 1:01 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


When my mother died, none of the necessary arrangements had been made. Pulling together the funeral and then dealing with her house and belongings from hundreds of miles away was challenging. Making decisions was the worst part, since often I didn't know what Mom would have wanted.

I'm grateful that Dad has been steadily making arrangements over the years. He and I should sit down together sometime soon to discuss them.
posted by Lexica at 1:07 PM on March 8, 2016


Meh. Some of your online life you need to curate for your heirs because it involves your physical estate and the like. But the rest is just as inherently ephemeral as it was when it existed as vibrations in the air hitting your friends' eardrums.

So bank account passwords and the like are important. Social media, well, if you have a troll problem, best to have a quick way to disabled. But otherwise, meditate on the impermanence of all things, yo.

Still, if AI progresses enough to model my personality, I'm leaving some processes in the cloud that will detect my death and haunt the shit out of y'all.
posted by ocschwar at 1:31 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've been thinking I should put something together for my wife/kids so that they don't have to search around for anything.

So bank account passwords and the like are important.

I have to wonder if this violates the bank site's TOS? Your iTunes and Steam libraries are probably non-transferable too, right? It's gonna be an interesting couple of decades as far as this stuff goes.
posted by ODiV at 1:36 PM on March 8, 2016


Ok, so I'm a paper-and-ink wills and trusts lawyer, so I have a bit of a bias here, but I can't help but look skeptically at certain of these apps/startups. There've been a number of these companies which come and go every few years, promising to be the one place to digitally take care of your afterlife - passwords, wills, trusts, and so on. And then a few months or years pass, and most of them are gone, or they've pivoted to something else, and I have to wonder what happens to those plans.

Somebody in their 20s and 30s has 50-60 more years of life, on average. How many afterlife startups are going to be there when you're dead? Google is 17 years old, Facebook 12. What digital afterlife startup is going to last even five years?

Contrast that with paper - the oldest known piece of paper is 2000 years old. Paper lasts. Write your will on paper, stick it in a safe place, keep a PDF online, let your lawyer keep a copy. Much safer and much more likely to last.
posted by factory123 at 1:36 PM on March 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


My father-in-law suddenly passed away at home last month. We found his will, the deed to his house, and all the pertinent information exactly where we knew it would be, for the most part, barring a few things we had to dig for, and even then, it was just a matter of stuff like finding his wallet in his coat pocket. A month later, we're pretty much ready to file for probate. So I'm seconding factory123 here; keep the paperwork where your heirs can find it. All of the legal entities we're dealing with want actual, real, paper documents, which we have to take to them in person, or send registered mail. Now, he, and my mother-in-law, who went a few years before him, were very well-organised and made sure we knew where to find the stuff we would need, but the old school system they used has been a blessing and made a really shitty and sad job much easier than trying to deal with some potentially fly-by-night outfit.
posted by skybluepink at 1:55 PM on March 8, 2016


Meh. Some of your online life you need to curate for your heirs because it involves your physical estate and the like. But the rest is just as inherently ephemeral as it was when it existed as vibrations in the air hitting your friends' eardrums.

... eh. While I agree with factory123 about handling the details on paper in an obvious location, the rest of that is pretty much only true if you don't have any friends online.

A lot of us spend just as much - or even more - time with online friends than meatspace ones. It's easier to hold a conversation over IM than the phone, or even texting, and many people work on their computers... and I don't think I know anybody who thinks about notification when they die.

I brushed up against this personally around Christmas in 2014: A dear friend of mine had a cousin pass away both young and suddenly, and we had to work out how to let his friends in Second Life know. He saw them almost every night, but they didn't know his RL details, and she didn't have his SL contact list or password. None of the rest of his family understood the Internet well enough to even care, much less help. As I was not grieving, I ended up doing a fair bit of legwork in there to find out which clubs he frequented, locate a close friend of his and get word out.

It was a lot harder than it needed to be, and I think he would've considered it important. I know I would have. Talking about better ways to store that information, and maybe write down what people should be told is a good thing.
posted by mordax at 2:15 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Google's Inactive Account Manager is another neat way to leave behind your instructions.
posted by numaner at 2:15 PM on March 8, 2016


Secret to immortality:

1) Get a death app

2) Get some ransomware creep to encrypt the files

3) Don't pay
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:31 PM on March 8, 2016


Contrast that with paper - the oldest known piece of paper is 2000 years old. Paper lasts. Write your will on paper, stick it in a safe place, keep a PDF online, let your lawyer keep a copy. Much safer and much more likely to last.

The oldest cave paintings, on the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi, have been dated to approximately 40,000 years old. Paint your will on a remote cave wall and leave directions to it with your lawyer.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:51 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sangermaine, I'm going to have to bill for the travel time to and from Sulawesi, so I am wholeheartedly behind your plan.
posted by factory123 at 3:38 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


It could be the mother of all personal media accounts, designed to store all of a person’s online passwords in one spot

*security shiver*
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:52 PM on March 8, 2016


A dear friend of mine had a cousin pass away both young and suddenly, and we had to work out how to let his friends in Second Life know. He saw them almost every night, but they didn't know his RL details, and she didn't have his SL contact list or password. None of the rest of his family understood the Internet well enough to even care, much less help. As I was not grieving, I ended up doing a fair bit of legwork in there to find out which clubs he frequented, locate a close friend of his and get word out.

It was a lot harder than it needed to be, and I think he would've considered it important. I know I would have. Talking about better ways to store that information, and maybe write down what people should be told is a good thing.


As an SL denizen who's gotten word about some people who have passed, and has been left to wonder about others, I deeply appreciate your efforts.

I have one of these set up, myself. In the event that I don't log in for a month, a friend will be e-mailed my password, and instructions about what to do with it. (It does require that you keep it up to date, and that you have land of your own on which to place it.)
posted by Samantha Poindexter at 5:12 PM on March 8, 2016


the part I like about the apps are the questions that force you to think about your end of life choices and how you want to be remembered and what to do with all your social media accounts. I don't want somebody else deciding those things. The "put all your passwords and account information in our 100% super duper shiny secure cloud and never ever worry" ... yah. thanks. No.
posted by pjsky at 5:14 PM on March 8, 2016


My idea of a death app for my social media accounts would be more like a Markov bot that would infrequently post some nonsense that sounded sort of like me.
posted by rodlymight at 5:17 PM on March 8, 2016


My bot will have my Facebook password so it can find my funeral and click "may be attending."
posted by ocschwar at 8:06 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


My idea was a suite of apps that... Well here, I'll just copy/paste it:
Notification of one’s demise sent to one’s online communities, automatically, via iBit, the Online Obituary service.

Funeria to host one’s online funeral services.

The bits and pieces of one’s online persona spidered and collected from Flickr and MetaFilter and twitter and World of Warcraft and so on and deposited and cataloged at Deathbook, the reliquary updated over time as the service’s worms crawl through the deceased’s decaying virtual corpse, grimly digesting all the accumulated errata and depositing it in DB’s vast servers, where, perhaps, the accumulation will fertilize the lives and thoughts of future visitors.
posted by notyou at 8:25 AM on March 9, 2016


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