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Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What's Your Legacy? (Voices That Matter) Paperback – November 25, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0321732286 ISBN-10: 0321732286 Edition: 1st

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Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What's Your Legacy? (Voices That Matter) + Organize Your Digital Life: How to Store Your Photographs, Music, Videos, and Personal Documents in a Digital World
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Product Details

  • Series: Voices That Matter
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (November 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321732286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321732286
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,010,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


To be ahead of one's time usually means stepping to the side of one's time in order to see it clearly. This book does just that, putting our digital lives and afterlives into sharp focus. Fascinating. --David Eagleman, neuroscientist and author

Death is the final frontier of cyberspace--and this book provides a road map to the key issues, problems and future prospects for bridging this ultimate transition with dignity, security and grace. --Daniel "Dazza" Greenwood, eCitizen Foundation

Carroll and Romano explain the challenges of the digital afterlife, and provide workable strategies for safeguarding your digital assets.  This book is the perfect first step toward securing your digital legacy. --Fred Stutzman,

Your Digital Afterlife is the first book to take on the looming topic of dealing with death and online identity. It's a must-read in the digital era! --Jeremy Toeman, CEO and founder, Legacy Locker

From the Back Cover

Almost without realizing it, we have shifted toward an all-digital culture. Future heirlooms like family photos, home movies, and personal letters now exist only in digital form, and in many cases they are stored using popular services like Flickr, YouTube, and Gmail. These digital possessions form a rich collection that chronicles our lives and connects us to each other.

But have you considered what will happen to your treasured digital possessions when you die?

Unfortunately the answer isn't as certain as we might presume. There are numerous legal, cultural, and technical issues that could prevent access to these assets, and if you don't take steps to make them available to your heirs, your digital legacy could be lost forever.

Written by the creators of, this book helps you secure your valuable digital assets for your loved ones and perhaps posterity. Whether you're the casual email user or the hyper-connected digital dweller, you'll come away with peace of mind knowing that your digital heirlooms won't be lost in the shuffle.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
It will happen.
Mr. Charles R. Cowling
I used this book as the foundation for a documentary about digital afterlife.
This book is filled with real life stories and advice.
Tamela D. Culp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
So what happens to your digital self when you die? Your email, blog, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook accounts? It's not something you hear talked about very much, but there could be personal and historical value lost if those accounts die along with you. Our parents and grandparents passed down photos and letters to us, but what if all of those photos and letters are now on Flickr and in email? Evan Carroll covers this topic in his book Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What's Your Legacy?, and it's a fascinating read.

Introducing the Digital Afterlife
Your Digital Life Death, and Beyond: The Shift to Digital; A Well-Lived (Digital) Life; The Artifacts of Your Life; The Value of Digital Things; What You Leave Behind; The Opportunity of Digital Legacy; Your Legacy at Risk; The Birth of an Industry
Securing Your Digital Legacy: Before You Begin; Computers and Devices; Email; Social Websites; Finance and Commerce; Create Your Plan
Epilogue: The Future of Digital Death
Appendix; Glossary; From the Authors; Index

Carroll start off by covering the evolution from physical pieces of our story and heritage to a more digital form. Especially dramatic is the comparison of communication from people who are serving during a time of war. Letters from the front-line are saved, re-read, age, and are part of an overall memory. Now you get emails that only exist in electronic form, and are quickly read, replied to, and saved in a mailbox. The immediacy and format of the message makes it more transitory, and less likely it will be handed down to future generations. This aging and patina that forms over the years is completely missing from the digital form.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gwynne Murphy on April 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
Anyone considering making or in the process of creating a will in honor of Make a Will Month should get this book and explore the additional resources that Carroll and Romano have provided beyond their careful tour of your digital life. The authors take an honest and easily digestible look at the complex digital world. Not only do they examine the current situation of individuals amassing a constantly-growing collection of digital assets, but they simply it and walk you though ways to evaluate your options for the future. It's simple to recognize that we had no need to consider the preservation of our digital assets in the (not so distant) past. They didn't exist until recently, but in many cases, like digital photography, we want to be able to pass along these precious memories and records to the future generations - much in the same way you may have inherited the cherished family photo album. But what you may not realize, and what the authors illustrate, is that some of your digital assets are being archived and preserved whether you want them to be or not. Bottom line: Your Digital Afterlife is a must read for anyone with any sort of online element to their life. (And, yes, that includes personal email accounts and Facebook profiles.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Denys Yeo on February 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is a gradual recognition, in the digital current-life, that a lot of what might be left behind at the end of a user's life may be in digital form. This book is one of the first, if not the first, to help people think about this situation and make suggestions on actions they can take. It provides a good background on some of the issues to be aware of and traps to avoid in trying to maintain digital material into the future. It is also does a good job of listing resources, including websites, that may be helpful in trying to sort out a digital afterlife.
Unfortunately, it encounters a problem that many contemporary books focussing on technology suffer from - by the time a book is published some material is already dated. For example, this book suggests that photos should be culled so that more interesting ones do not get lost amongst the thousands of others - but already software is doing this job so in the future "more" will be better and a picture search application will quickly find what you want; in the book there is quite an emphasis on still photos and little comment about video - yet video is rapidly taking over as a preferred way to record experiences.
A problem in trying to grapple with the concept of a digital afterlife is conceptualising what the term might eventually mean. Is it just about preserving digital material acquired during a life time? Is it about allowing on going discourse between people in the form of a "memorial site"? Is it about setting up a digital persona that people in the future might interact with? And how can people go about creating material that they may intentionally wish leave behind rather than relying on existing material that they will leave behind? Is it about all of these things and more?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Charles R. Cowling on April 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Where all assets were once physical, except for lingering memories, now they are increasingly digital. The most obvious examples are letters, documents, music and photos. There's more.

This book is full of thoughtful, intelligent insights."Will future generations have less attachment to physical objects?" What an interesting idea. Physical objects are unique, but "one of the unique features of digital things is that two exact copies can exist or one copy can be accessed in multiple places at one time." Had we only physical assets, they'd be divvied up, some thrown away, and our identity fragmented. Digital assets can be bequeathed complete - to more than just one person.

The law presently regards assets only as physical assets. How do we make sure these endure?

Your Digital Afterlife wants to persuade us of the necessity so, first, it makes the case. Our digital assets are identity-defining: "All this content forms a rich collection that reflects who you are and what you think." Much of this content may be interactive - comments on your Facebook status "reflecting on your identity"; your comments on others. Future generations will be able to see us as we saw ourselves and as others saw us.

So rich is this content that there's now "a huge opportunity that's never been available to ordinary people - a permanent archive of your life that could exist beyond your physical life." So great is the amount of our content that the authors call on us to curate it. With photos, for example, don't just leave 10,000 - no one will know where to start. Whittle them down, grade them and tag them.

This is all so new that "as a society we have not thought through the ramifications or considered what will happen to this digital content.
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