We Are All Going To Die: How Is Our Digital Life Preserved
media | social life & social media
Mark Krynsky started a blog about six years ago. On his blog, he wrote about live streaming and impetus and how he was trying to aggregate social data into a single timeline. The blog evolved over time, and it wasn’t just about social data--it was also about life blogging. Since then, he learned about Quantified Self and started thinking about the future of his data, what’s going to happen after he dies? In this talk, Mark discusses digital preservation and how he created an action plan for his digital data after his death.
Photos | Plex
I’m going to talk about something that takes a lot of what we’re doing as far as tracking data and starting data, so I’m really going to talk about the future, so I’m going to talk about digital preservation and so how I created an action plan for my digital data for after I die.
So we’re all going to die right!
So a lot of people you know, they just don’t think about the implications of that happening and how their data actually may affect others.
So you know, just a little bit of background. I’ve been writing – I started a blog about six years ago. I started writing about life streaming and the impetus for that was that I was trying to aggregate social data into a single timeline, so I basically putting photos on Flickr, uploading videos on YouTube, sending out tweets. And what I wanted was a reverse chronological timeline of that data aggregated in one place.
So I started this blog because I had to go out there and find these custom scripts and hack it altogether, and I finally figured out how to do it, and I’m like this is pretty hard. I know a lot of people who would like to do this, so I created a blog and started talking about those tools.
So the blog evolved over time, and it wasn’t just about social data, it was about life blogging, so I had some personal data above and beyond that social data. And then I started learning about Quantified Self. So I was okay, let me think about how I can actually learn from this data, and looking at things like social newspapers where they take the algorithm of all the data that we’ve got that we’re sharing and then present to us that in custom newspapers. So looking at how that data basically effected each other and brought to us new tools and new insights.
And then I started thinking about the future of my data, so what’s going to happen after I die. You know because really up until this generation all we really have is maybe some photographs and maybe some letters, and didn’t really have a whole lot of information to show our future grandchildren or to know who my great grandpa was. I’ve got a couple of pictures, maybe some letters and some stories, but now we’re creating all this rich data about our lives, really creating these amazing kind of smart journals that we put all this data altogether that can really present an amazing picture to our you know future generations.
So I really started to think about that and about you know, how can that data be accessible to these people. So anyways I originally started writing just about and thinking about that data and presenting it.
Then I kind of had this pretty amazing moment where I attended this talk at South by Southwest called digital immortals, and you know I was really just thinking about saving the data and having a way for people to access it. But then I went to this talk and Audrey Miller had a situation where her husband got really really ill. He was a pretty famous blogger and you know, he wrote this blogpost right before he dies and the blog got a ton of traffic, he died and the blog goes down. She doesn’t know who to call. People were telling her you need to get your husbands blog back up. She didn’t know anything.
A month later the blog just dies. She didn’t know the account information. She couldn’t pay the bill. About another two months after that the domain name gets released.
So you know, she basically made me think that I walked away from this talk and there’s other people at this talk, there’s Bill Lefurgy from the Library of Congress who kind of talked about of aggregating our data for the future generations it’s really important. Richard Banks from Microsoft Research talked a little bit about the life blogging of CAM, and Adam (Nostrono? 03:43) kind of talked about kind of the future of data and how that’s going to be presented, and I’ll cover that a bit later.
But I came back from this talk and thought wow, all I was really thinking about was this sort of high level of how I’m going to present my data to future generations but not really thinking about those different steps and how to actually do it.
So I came back and I’m like I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to create a three step plan to preserve my data, prepare my data, and then produce it for digital legacy for the future.
So I’ll kind of talk about how I arrived at this. So you know I’m using all this software, hardware, and services for data creation. I’ve got you know local software on my computers, I’ve got a digital camera, I’ve got this phone. You know, I’m creating all this data all over the place. Locally, online, everywhere and it’s just nuts. I only have a handful of the devices and services here, but you guys can imagine how much data we’re creating across all these different areas. So you know, basically I’m just trying to think, how do I save all this.
So the first step of this plan was to create kind of a preservation strategy, a backup strategy. So what i did was I started looking at all the data I’m creating and all these services, pulling it all down into a single location, and essentially aggregating it in that single location and then finding ways to back it up.
So just aggregating the data is a huge challenge in just making sure you’ve got a plan to pull down online services and you’re pulling down all that data in one place. Then what I do is I back it up to storage, you guys can use an external hard drive, whatever.
But then a lot of people stop there, and if you stop there you’re in trouble, because if you get robbed or if you have a fire in your house, your data’s gone. So you also have to have a cloud strategy. So I’ve got about 370 gig backed up to a cloud, and later I’ll give you guys resources to all this stuff, steps, services I use, everything.
So nightly I’m doing this. I’m backing up locally, I’m backing up onto a (05:43 unclear) storage and I’m backing up to cloud storage. Kind of crazy, so that’s the first step.
This is the part it gets really interesting, because now I’ve got all the data actually I’ll take one step back to. If you’ve got kids and they’re generating data, if they’ve got multiple devices you can aggregate all that too. So I get my kids devices and I put them all as part of that aggregation so that’s another piece.
So then there’s the preparation part. This is the part that Audrey Miller really kind of struck a real big nerve for me because if was like to die tomorrow I’ve got all this information; my wife knows nothing. It’s pretty useless, you’re like here’s this computer and that’s it right.
So the first thing I did was I implemented a password management service. So there’s a couple out there, I’m using one called LastPass, and like I tend to use is like one password, so it’s really important. It’s a single location to store all of my passwords and there’s even if you don’t trust an online cloud service for that, you can do it in a local software package.
But essentially put all of your online accounts in one location and one master password to access it. And then what I did was I created what I call a digital will. So essentially it’s a document and I’ve appointed a digital trustee. So I’ve got two really close tech friends that I really trust. So I’ve basically I’ve appointed them my trustees and if anything happens to me, my wife goes to them. they get this document, they get access to my data, they can help her to get all my digital content, all my online services, everything.
And it’s got all the details of all the data I’m backing up and where it’s backed up and what software clients or services are good to use it, and it’s also got the master password for LastPass. And then the other thing you need to do to is choose what you want to happen to your online account after you die. A lot of people don’t do that. So different services have different policies. Facebook either allows you to either memorialize the Facebook page or delete it. But then again if you don’t have a will, different states have different laws and this gets messy and it’s a whole area that’s going to start becoming a big issue over the coming years. There’s articles that I came to that kind of talk about different parents that have had trouble getting their access to their kids Facebook. And every service is different, Twitter has got their policy and you know, every single online service has a different policy.
So putting my wishes in there and what I want to happen to those services is in this digital will.
And then there is third-party services that can configure for after you die. So there is Google has in active account manager, does anyone know what that is. So what Google in active account manager lets you do is set it up so that you have an inactivity timeframe and I think it defaults to 3 months. If they don’t see you log in, or any activity for nearly 3 months, then you can set it up so they will email certain people and they’ll get access to all your Google account information.
You can have it either do that, you can have it delete it all; you can have a couple of different steps. So this is something that Google has that not a lot of people know about that you can configure. So this could kind of be a backup to my digital will because I would already have my friends having access to all of that anyways, but this is something that people can do very easily today, and go ahead and set up, you know, for the future if something happens. I mean, they also have it alerts like if they don’t see any activity for one month, they will send you a warning, are you still alive. So you can actually verify to that, so it’ll kick it back out to 3 months. But it’s something really important that you should probably take a look at if you use a lot of Google services.
And Facebook, I think I talked about this, so if you contact Facebook after somebody passes away, they will allow you to download the data and then memorialize the account or delete it.
So these third-party services, there are services called If I Die or Dead Social, at least things let you send out messages, like automated messages and you can even record a video. It’s like a Facebook app where you can record a video, and after you die that video will get posted to your timeline. So there’s a lot of third-party services coming online that do some weird stuff after you die and if you so choose to use them.
So that’s the preparation, that’s really a key one that really triggered that talk to me to make sure I do that, and you know, I don’t think a lot of people don’t think about this you know. If you were to die like, how would somebody access all that info right.
So the last step is really production, and all of the steps by the way, is they’re pretty massive in nature and it’s how to do them and prepare for them. There’s no really easy one answer for any of these. So it’s just all different steps that everybody really needs to kind of think about and figure out what’s the best process for them.
From a production standpoint, you know I think about how can somebody actually access this raw data that I have. Right, I’ve got all my photos in one place, emails, whatever. So right now there’s not really a whole lot of tools out there to do that. You know, I’ve got some local software that I can use like Picasa that can access my whole photo library, you can view it by year. It’s got metatags, it’s got a lot of cool ways that you can view all of my photo history. So that’s kind of cool.
I use a software package called Plex, which actually I can access as well of my photos, and my videos, and I can also, not only just show that locally. I can show it online to family members can actually log in and view that content from their computers over the Internet. You know, and then I’ve got other software that actually I’ve listed that you can view all the other raw data that I have on my system.
Then you’ve got third-party services that are starting to come online. My Life Map is one of them. And these are services that are specifically catered towards digital preservation and the thinking and design is from the ground up, towards being able to create these profiles over time that your future family can go to.
There is some other ones as well, but you know, this is a real interesting area because how do you feel that you are going to give this data and in 50 years is the services going to be around. So there is a lot of concerns with these types of services, the privacy issues you’re giving them of this important data. So there could be a lot of issues with actually using an online service for digital preservation, and you know issues with just the company being around for 50 years or 70 years. So all of these steps you kind of you know, have to watch these over time and kind of shift like My Digital World document is something I would have to keep updating as things change in different services that I use come in and out of it.
And then what’s really getting interesting is these virtual profile services. So I’m starting to see people starting to talk about either third-party services as well as even some physical things that are actually happening out in the real world for one we die. So Life Not, is a service that I’ve just barely started scratching the surface on, but what that service lets you do is let you upload a lot of your raw data, even connected to third-party services that suck in all this data about you. They create a virtual avatar that you can talk to, which would be really weird, right.
So I’m dead and you ask this avatar questions about me, what’s my favorite food, have you ever been to China. You can literally just talk to it, it queries that data and analyses that data and then you can actually talk to me after I’m dead, right. So it sounds creepy, it sounds weird, but this stuff is coming, it’s all coming.
The other thing you see here that I’m showing is what looks like, who is familiar with Nicolas Feltron and Feltron Report? It’s really awesome. It’s this person that does this awesome visualization infographic every year about a lot of his activity. So I can see some really cool third-party services actually coming online and analyze all your raw data and create these really cool visualizations or other ways that somebody can navigate through all of your historical data after you die, right.
And really, that’s it. Those are the three steps I took, and I’m constantly monitoring this last phase, the production phase, what are the cool tools out there. You know, how do I get my data put into these different services or software packages that I can actually have somebody view after I’m gone. Because you know, this generation it’s just – the amount of data that we’re creating is just massive, and I don’t think you know, most people are really thinking about this what I’m thinking about you know what I’m capturing to be able to give to my you know future generations, or that my great grandchildren are even going to know about me. How are they going to find that out about me?
There are all new questions, we are starting to ask, and a lot of legal issues around this, and a lot of these whole cottage industries, that’s going to be built around our data legacies. So, that’s pretty much it.
So my blog is Life Stream Blog. I have a whole section just on digital preservation, and I talk a lot about the tools and services that I’ve kind of mentioned and you guys can actually go to this site, and click through and see a lot of those different services and a lot of the different tips and we’ve got a lot of different articles.
And that’s really about it, any questions.