What happens after a man dies?
Is there a God waiting to settle things? Is there another world? An afterlife?
Does Chitragupta use the latest version of Tally for his accounting purposes? Or do dead people get bored to death waiting in never ending queues for their turns to come up as he flips through the pages of his dusty old books?
Would St.Peter's job be outsourced to some other Indian saint from a tier 2 city? Will the Indian saint have lost it to a mexican or a philipino by the time you reach there?
Do the jehadis get their share of 72 virgins? Or will they be given a raw deal citing the dwindling male-to-female ratio as the reason?
No, these are not the exact questions I am having. I am thinking more on the lines of what happens to the online world of a person after he dies.
Have you ever wondered what will happen to the email account of a person once he dies? What happens to their blog? Their flickr account? Their adsense? I have no clue why, but this question has been bothering me from quite a long time. All these are not very old technologies and considering that the adoption is higher among the younger age group, people might not have faced these situations often. But these would be serious questions a couple of decades from now.
Just imagine for a moment that you have an online friend about whom you dont know a great deal about. You dont know where exactly they live, what exactly they do and you dont have common friends, but you are constantly 'in touch' with each other maintaining a great deal of anonymity and discussing only about 'common interests'. If they die, there is no way on earth you could know that. Of course the email account will be disabled due to inactivity, but how do you differentiate between the inactive mailbox of a living person and that of a dead person? :) Same thing with blogs. How do you differentiate a blog that has been inactive for a while and a dead person's blog? Would people in general prefer somebody else to inherit their blogs or would they want their blog to end along with them? Interesting question actually!
If people want their online world to end along with them, there needs to be some sort of notification system - something like a "Out of office reply". You could actually configure your message what you want to convey to people and store it in your mailbox or your blog settings. And only your lawyer will have the access key which triggers sending this message. Once this system matures, there will be provisions for custom messages for individuals or groups.
A generic message could read something like this:
"Hey, I am dead now. Sorry for not responding to your mail. For any further queries, contact my family at 1-545-..."
A message to an online girlfriend can go like this:
"Honey, I am dead now. Apologies for not buying you the diamond necklace I promised. Dont keep in touch"
A slightly complex message could be configured for a particular friend and only for forwarded messages:
"Yeah bastard you were right. I ignored all those 'send it to 20 people or else bad luck will haunt you' forward and I am dead now. Send this message to 20 alive people you know"
so on and so forth.
Blogs can have a 'last post' option, where you can save what you want to say to your readers if it were to be your last post. And of course, the account will be locked once that post is triggered. The blog search results will display the alive people blogs and dead people blogs in different colors. As you have guessed correctly, the dead people blogs will not have RSS subscription :D
All those people who want their legacy to continue will make 'wills' to make sure that who will inherit what. A lawyer reading it out will be something like "The son will get the blog account and all the ad revenue generated from that. The daughter will have access to flickr pro account and youtube account and the son cannot share her flickr account to upload the pictures for his blog posts. The grandson will get the Rapidshare premium account and if it is noticed that he is using it to upload porn, it will be given to charity. The wife gets nothing as she does not use the computer at all"
Come 2025, the possibilities are immense! :)