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Ask Slashdot: What Should Happen To Your Data After You Die?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the it-is-your-solemn-duty-to-clear-your-departed-best-friend's-browsing-history dept.

Cloud 122

Nerval's Lobster writes "Death is Nature's way of telling you it's time to get off the Internet. But when you finally shuffle off this mortal coil, you leave something behind: all your email and other digital assets. That's a huge problem not only for the deceased — once you're on the wrong side of the Great Beyond, there's no way to delete those incriminating messages — but also any relatives who might want to access your (former) life. And it's a problem Google's seeking to solve with the new Inactive Account Manager. (In an April 11 blog posting, Google product manager Andreas Tuerk suggested that Inactive Account Manager wasn't a 'great name' for the product, but maybe the company shouldn't be so hard on itself: it's a way better name than, say, Google Death Dashboard.) Inactive Account Manager will delete your Google-related data (Gmail, etc.) after a set amount of time, or else send that data to 'trusted contacts' you set up before your untimely demise. Which raises an interesting, semi-Google-related question: What do you want to have happen to your data after you die? Give it to loved ones, or have an automated system nuke it all? Should more companies that host email and data offer plans like Inactive Account Manager?"

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Where's the... (5, Interesting)

MasseKid (1294554) | about a year ago | (#43435935)

I don't care, I'm self centered and dead option?

Re:Where's the... (0)

click2005 (921437) | about a year ago | (#43435947)

I call bullshit. Now you have to opt-out of Google's spying every time your account is deleted.

Re:Where's the... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43436047)

Just leave a trail of baffling BS. It's the least you can do for your legacy. Maybe you'll end up with a cult following, like L. Ron.

Re:Where's the... (2)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43436071)

What the fuck do you think I've been doing for the last 15 years on Slashdot?! :D

Re:Where's the... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43436217)

Then leave somewhere some hidden caches with statements your cult following are all wackos, nuts, loonies, etc. hidden all over the place, along with a signature and photo of you doing something contrary to their beliefs.

Re:Where's the... (-1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#43436315)

My dear god.

Not this old chestnut, [] again?

Re:Where's the... (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43436513)

I believe it's standard policy for IT to re-visit then re-invent the wheel every so often. At that point, what's been done historically regardless of how successful or unsuccessful it is doesn't matter. And learning from competitors is way below google's pay grade!

Re:Where's the... (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43436223)

I call bullshit. Now you have to opt-out of Google's spying every time your account is deleted.

How many times are you planning to die, Mr. Bond?

Re:Where's the... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43435967)

After I am dead this meta-data is of no use for me... My heirs can figure it out...

Why not do what millions of others have done? Nothing.

Re:Where's the... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43436231)

Why not do what millions of others have done? Nothing.

I suppose for AC's, this is a particularly attractive option.

Re:Where's the... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43436037)

I don't care, I'm self centered and dead option?

When you are gone you cease to be self-centered, you are dead-centered. A target! Ripe for bruteforced attacks on your history! Just a matter of time before some character in North Korea and completely re-done your entire browsing and interweb content history as a life-long supporter of Dear Leader Fatty-fattington.

Best buy some After-life Insurance or something.

Re:Where's the... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436235)

Just a matter of time before some character in North Korea and completely re-done your entire browsing and interweb content history as a life-long supporter of Dear Leader Fatty-fattington.

Given how often I say, "NORTH KOREA IS BEST KOREA!", I'm pretty sure there's going to be no need for that.

I mean, I live in the US. We're the country who gave Iraq WMDs to fight Iran and then were shocked to find out Iraq may have had WMDs. When I'm dead, nobody's going to realize that North Korea was an Internet meme.

My family knows my pw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436103)


The same on my luggage!

Re:Where's the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436203)

I don't care, I'm self centered and dead option?

That's an odd sentiment really. Think about it, we're talking about dictating what should happen with our data after we die. Isn't that the self centered option really? Personally, I leave it to those who stay behind to decide what should happen to it. To try to obligate them to any particular course of action from the grave seems self centered to me.

Re:Where's the... (2)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43436371)

I also do not care. I also have no will. I want everybody to genuinely be grieving.

Re:Where's the... (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about a year ago | (#43436611)

You can show them goatse in your will. That is a form of data, and they will genuinely grieve after seeing it.

Oh they'll be grieving (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#43438795)

I also have no will. I want everybody to genuinely be grieving.

Once the legal battles and government intervention grabs much of your assets, they'll be grieving plenty.

Having no will is what lawyers would term a "Dick Move".

If you really were there would be no question (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#43438789)

I don't care, I'm self centered and dead option?

If you were REALLY self centered, then obviously you'd want many people to be able to read your brilliant thoughts long after you are gone.

Nuke it all (2)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43435969)

It will be like you never existed

Re:Nuke it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436005)

In some ways, this is true all the time anyway.

Re:Nuke it all (2)

stewsters (1406737) | about a year ago | (#43436051)

From orbit. Its the only way to be sure.

Re:Nuke it all (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43436059)

It will be like you never existed

Is it possible to be low-level formatted after you are gone?

"How'd he die?" "Head crashed." "Oh, ow."

Re:Nuke it all (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436241)

Is it possible to be low-level formatted after you are gone?

Yes. It's called composting.

Re:Nuke it all, even the static (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43438685)

The Tibetans cut up their loved one's remains and fed left them out for the vultures. Not unlike what will happen in the state and corporate databases that will outlive us all.

In the digital age you will never die, your data will just age out. The IRS, then the census bureau will be the first to back up what little of you was relevant to their raison d' etre. Your remaining relevance will fade with changing social fads to which your personal data was related. Your bank account will cease activity. The other corporations you did business will be cannibalized or go bankrupt, and your former account number will be reassigned to a new customers. Your social network connections will dwindle to a digital dribble. Your twitter account's silence will go unretweeted.

The coup de grace won't come until all the listservs you signed up for cease to operate. Then the dark daemon will back up your account at 2:34 AM local time and wait...
every so often the pining routine will be called, along with Ray Kurzweil timeout, waiting for you to be authenticated... again.

Then Major Tom will enter stasis.

Re:Nuke it all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436161)

> It will be like you never existed

As it should be.

Hilarious scenarios for Friday (4, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43435999)

1. Husband dies, google releases data, wife finds out husband spent all excess cash on cam whores.
2. Google deletes husband's data, treasure map / account numbers are lost.
3. Husband makes another unrelated gmail account, a set time later, wife is notified husband is dead while eating dinner with him.

Google just can't win here can they? :)

Re:Hilarious scenarios for Friday (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436053)

4. Kid gets grounded from the computer, mom receives all his porn.

Re:Hilarious scenarios for Friday (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436279)

3. Husband makes another unrelated gmail account, a set time later, wife is notified husband is dead while eating dinner with him.

If the wife is checking her google mail during the family diner, she has it coming!

Re:Hilarious scenarios for Friday (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43436489)

Damn smartphones.

Re:Hilarious scenarios for Friday (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436405)

Actually Google expects to always win, by keeping every last byte it can snarf of your existence and doing whatever the hell it pleases with you.

Re:Hilarious scenarios for Friday (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436679)

Husband makes another unrelated gmail account, a set time later, wife is notified husband is dead while eating dinner with him.

I have of course not read TFA, but you'd hope they did sensible things like send out warnings in advance.
Probably something like

Dear Mr./Mrs. X. This email has been automatically sent out because [explanation of inactive account system]. We hope this is all some silly mistake and that Y is doing fine. If we do not detect further activity on Y's account within 10 days, [stuff will happen]. Y can prevent this by [various ways to notify Google of non-deadness].

Compare prices on tombstones and funeral services.
Recently single? Search thousands of hot girls and guys in your area!

Nerval's lobster (2)

oldhack (1037484) | about a year ago | (#43436025)

Is he a slashdot staffer?

Seems like a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436055)

Let's say you die and your wife (this is a hypothetical situation for some!) finds all your gay sex pictures and home movies. That sure would help the grief process!

Doesn't matter (5, Funny)

linear a (584575) | about a year ago | (#43436057)

Taking everybody with me.

Depends on the Data (2)

ilikenwf (1139495) | about a year ago | (#43436073)

My git repos, some of which just mirror other projects, others which are private to me, would be opened up to the public, except for code that isn't mine to relicense as GPL. Other data released publically via webservers would include archival data of various rare tv, books, etc that I have collected.

Emails, banking stuff, and all that would go to the appropriate family members.

Re:Depends on the Data (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#43437559)

except for code that isn't mine to relicense as GPL

I'd just open it all up, with appropriate disclaimers, just because of the fact that the information ought to be free, and you cannot sue a corpse

Re:Depends on the Data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43437991)

They could sue the estate, though.

Re:Depends on the Data (3, Insightful)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#43438107)

That's the way, I think, except for those who flat out don't care. I've given a few people, the same that I've named and filed with my advanced directive, an envelope with master password to 'The Vault' so that they can unload what they please and close the accounts. Still have to write a will and have it notarized.

It's not so much that I care a lot about digital stuff vanishing into mass storage somewhere but I don't want to leave the people I care about with possibly vexing dangling digital details.

Computer goes to a friend anyway, so no worries about anything embarrassing on the drives; my home folder will be available to family and friends - family pics, favorite comics, possibly useful links and documents and some stray writing. They don't want it, erase it.

I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with Google's approach to a dead man switch, but it's a helluva good start; it's a nice thing to do and it could help keep things smooth for them as well.

But I'd suggest doing the bulk of arrangements in meat space. Do it now: we don't know our time, so it doesn't hurt to not leave as much of a mess behind as doing nothing. Folks above are right, tho - when I'm gone I'm likely not going to care anymore. Dead is probably just that. If there is anything after, whatever one's beliefs, you won't find out until it happens.

And to my beloved wife (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436075)

I bequeath my collection of Japanese tentacle porn and pregnant dildo bondage.

Re:And to my beloved wife (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43437169)

I have some Japanese pregnant dildo tentacle porn, wanna see?????

What is the matrix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436107)

If you die in the matrix you die in real life, it must be the same the other way around.

Buried with it (2)

MrYingster (594507) | about a year ago | (#43436109)

Assuming I don't die an untimely, unforeseen death, I had always planned on consolidating my data, and preparing it to be buried with me. I don't want to burden my family with having to sort through things. Plus in the future, in the case that reanimation is made possible I can have my stuff again, or in the more likely event that future paleontologists dig me up, they will have lots of history/information to figure out what made us primitive humans tick.

Re:Buried with it (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#43436427)

you might just be making a case for later warrant to have your corpse and data exhumed. save your family the trauma, torch your shit

Re:Buried with it (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43436667)

Plus in the future, in the case that reanimation is made possible I can have my stuff again

“Good morning sir, and welcome to the future. Technology has advanced to the point where we can revive a corpse that was embalmed and stuffed in a box for centuries. Unfortunately, it seems that we can't read the Office 2083 files that all your data are stored in, so we're just going to have to kill and re-bury you now in hope of future research advances.”

Obvious (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about a year ago | (#43436123)

The government will take half of your messages, just like they do with the rest of your property.

Here's my plan (no stealing it!!) (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43436129)

Remember how everyone is supposed to have their 15 minutes of fame, like Andy said?

So my figuring is this - there are more celebs and notable people than ever before, thanks in part to the web.

Therefore the gross overall amount of fame has increased, while time has remained constant, so people will have less than 15 minutes of fame. Gotta be down to about 10 minutes, or less by now. Right?

So my plan is to go about making everyone else famous. The more fame and notoriety of ordinary clods applies downward pressure on minutes of fame. With luck I can get it down to less than 10 seconds. People could then look back upon my shameful, scandelous existence and forget about it almost immediately as they move on to what World Famous Slashdot Poster #218171 has had to say lately.


Re:Here's my plan (no stealing it!!) (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year ago | (#43437853)

But, time could be infinite, or near to it. Who says you have to be famous while you are alive? Perhaps some random bit of data or code you have now will be found by archeologists in the far future, and it will solve some massive problem saving their civilization. Heck, look at some of the famous authors, artists, composers, etc. thru time, where their bio ends with "... succumbed to the ravages of syphilis and died a homeless pauper in the winter of ..." or whatever.

Nuke my bookmarks (1)

MikeDawg (721537) | about a year ago | (#43436143)

All that I ask is that my browser history is nuked. The world would be a better place without knowing the websites I have been to. I should have a bracelet made that says, please delete my browser history if I die.

Re:Nuke my bookmarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436173)

All that I ask is that my browser history is nuked. The world would be a better place without knowing the websites I have been to. I should have a bracelet made that says, please delete my browser history if I die.

If this is important (only you know), then you should man up and take care if it today. I'd suggest storing it encrypted, so you can die with the password.

Could the question be any less specific? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43436149)

"What Should happen to your data after you die?" is a question so vague as to be vacuuous.

Fairly obviously, just like any other flavor of cruft you accumulate during your time as a successful combatant against entropy, different flavors of data are best disposed of in different ways. We've only had more-or-less-all-of-recorded-human-civilization to work on this problem...

The new issue on the plate isn't so much 'OMG! 'Data' is a mysterious and fundamentally novel category!!!' but "Shit, huge swaths of 'my data' are locked in various 3rd party locations, and often very, very, poorly segregated by category." By way of analogy, if my bank safe deposit box was where I stored family heirlooms; but was also the location where I received reams of junk mail, recordings of a substantial percentage of casual conversations, and my collection of hideous donkey/tentacle hentai, writing my will would get a trifle more complex.

We may have had it easier historically because preserving the ephemera wasn't even an option, without substantial effort; but the major issue is really with the fact that everybody hates sorting shit, and various 'service providers' seem to adore tying as much data as possible to a single account, with efficient segregation of different flavors of data anywhere between 'a hassle' and 'overly contrary to the TOS'.

Graveyard shift (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43436153)

There should be a giant online cemetery where a person's online presence can retire when the body withers. Oh, wait... we already have one and it's called the Wayback Machine. Maybe there just needs to be more explicit cooperation with it about things like forum user profiles and social networking accounts? And maybe better funding?

Let them decide (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | about a year ago | (#43436169)

Let your family decide what they want to do with your data. Write down all of your passwords (if you're like me, you've got about a dozen) along with your usual accounts on a piece of paper and put them in a safety deposit box. When you pass and they go through your deposit box, they'll come across your credentials and decide what they'd like to do with your digital data. Some people would like to read it, others would prefer not to.

This strategy has an added bonus; if they ever come across a site that you belonged to, they've got a login that'll probably work.

Re:Let them decide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436323)

How do you handle the must change password ever x days/months stuff? I have a spreadsheet with 100+ logins, no way that work in a safe deposit box easily.

Re:Let them decide (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#43437577)

How do you handle the must change password ever x days/months stuff? I have a spreadsheet with 100+ logins, no way that work in a safe deposit box easily.

By including the master password in the box, with the instructions for using it to unlock the digital keychain. Besides, you need backups anyways

Re:Let them decide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43437997)

This strategy has an added bonus; if they ever come across a site that you belonged to, they've got a login that'll probably work.

Careful with that bonus. If they use it, they'll have committed a felony under the CFAA.

Just a automatic cleanup program (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#43436181)

This sounds more like a system implemented so Google does not have to deal with old accounts. It sounds good to me. If a user does not log in for a couple years, delete the data. Why should google have to pay to maintain old data that no one probably wants. Even banks get to close accounts after a number of years inactivity. This is the basis for all those commercials that proclaim "Government has billions of dollars of publics money, some of it could be yours!" In this case there is good legal reasons for Google to enact this. If data is lost, no one can sue google. It is in the terms and services that data will regularly be purged.

The issue is, that like with annuities and death benefits, many people do not remember to update the record as beneficiaries move out of their lives. It seems likely that for something as low priority as a gmail account is to some people, data could indeed inadvertently make it to a person who would use for no good.

If it were an actual death scenario, they should handle it like anyone else. The firm receives a death certificate with the name of the legally certified agent, and whatever assets are sent to that agent. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Re:Just a automatic cleanup program (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43437747)

Why should google have to pay to maintain old data that no one probably wants

The cost of data storage is perpetually declining. In the long run (which is where Google is looking) it would cost more to delete data.

Note that hard disk density has increased roughly 1000x in the last 20 years. You may crap your pants now.

Your spouse (3, Insightful)

hey (83763) | about a year ago | (#43436185)

Or its a sneaky way of Google finding the email address of the person your trust the most?
Probably your spouse.

Just put passw0rds in your will (1)

SomethingOrOther (521702) | about a year ago | (#43436205)

What is so fucking complicated about this?

I was sorting out a will recently and even my non-clued up solicitor (US=lawyer) recommended putting passwords in my sealed will. Apparently, this is a standard recommendation from the law society for every will written in the UK.

Without a doubt, every other country on planet Earth must have it's lawyers recommend something similar.

What is the story here?

Re:Just put passw0rds in your will (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436291)

Sealed wills aren't web scale in the cloud.

Unless it's unproven, overblown technology, we want no part of your perfectly reasonable solution!

Re:Just put passw0rds in your will (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436317)

Every time you update your password you have to rewrite your will?

Sounds like a scam by your lawyicitor. Make sure he doesn't take a peak before your beneficiaries and help himself to your assets....

Re:Just put passw0rds in your will (1)

SomethingOrOther (521702) | about a year ago | (#43436421)

Every time you update your password you have to rewrite your will

OK :-)
"Provide access to your computer passwords"......
I don't remember my solicitors exact words offhand, but his point was, give the location of your passwords in your will.

Granted though..... some lawyers could use this an a money making opportunity!
Trust the law society to give skewed advice :-)

Re:Just put passw0rds in your will (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436685)

You have an encrypted file holding all your real passwords, then the key to it is what you put in your will.

Re:Just put passw0rds in your will (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43436367)

The problem with that is your passwords (hopefully) change occasionally which means you have to pester the lawyer / solicitor / brother / turtle (they live a long time) constantly and what's worse, you have to remember to tell them. A better method is a password safe like 1Password or KeePass. Then you only have one password to change. Furthermore, with at least 1Password, you have an encrypted file of lots of other useful legal bits, your SSN, bank account numbers, etc. Of course, that makes for one stop shopping for Mr. Nefarious so as usual you have to balance security with usability.

However, this doesn't address your online presence which for many people seems more important than their real lives. Thus, you need a mechanism that you can deal with all of those posts / blogs and nasty pictures that have littered your digital life. This is just a small step in some direction. I guess it's positive.

Interestingly, people who use paid-for services don't have this problem as much. If I still have my vanity website when I kick over, the first month that the ISP fails to get it's payment, it gets knocked off line. I don't have anything on my Google account except for a couple of Google maps tracks - they can stay there for all eternity as far as I'm concerned. Anything important and / or compromising on my personal drives is encrypted and the password goes away whenever I do. Anything that is important to my estate is in 1Password and my wife and lawyer and brother have the master password for that.

a data harvesting effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436297)

It refuses to take my alternate email or notify others without giving my mobil number... I don't have one!
This appears to be a data harvesting effort

First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436303)

Slashdot. Olds for nerds, stuff that doesn't matter.

Rickroll (2)

phorm (591458) | about a year ago | (#43436335)

If I'm old and wrinkly but don't lose my (admittedly odd) sense of humor, I'd be tempted to rick-roll my family.

As a final farewall, he's a few pictures of my wrinkly butt. The code to the account with your inheritance is hidden somewhere in there...

Re:Rickroll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436403)

If we ever have digital gravestones- where most people were to use it as a "hit this button to play this video montage in honor of the dead... Then a rickroll instead would be quite amusing.

In all seriousness to answer the question in the article- I'll be dead, I won't care.

Re:Rickroll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436695)

You are my new hero.

Re:Rickroll (1)

stackOVFL (1791898) | about a year ago | (#43437751)

You sir are awesome and are my new role model.

It is common knowledge (2)

goffster (1104287) | about a year ago | (#43436351)

St Peter asks your for all social media passwords.
I, for one, would want to make sure those accounts no longer exist.

Apropos (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436365)

I have stave IV lung cancer, and maybe a few weeks left to go. Since I was an only child, both of my parents are gone, and I never married or had children, I basically have nobody who would want to have my data.

So, I am basically just erasing myself from existence. There is very little on the Internet with my name on it to begin with - no facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social media like that. I do have a few hundred family photos from when I was much young that I scanned in. When I am close, I will say my goodbyes to my parents (again) and delete those, too.

Death is a profound experience. When you realize yours is coming and there isn't anything that can be done about it, you begin to want to disconnect from the hive and spend your last days alone to ponder your life and existence. It's not something I expected - when I was first diagnosed I thought I would want to party as much as possible until I passed - spend as much time with friends as I could. But, that turned out not to be the case.

I'm really too weak at this point to do much of anything except sit around and talk or surf, but when I left my job and cashed out my life insurance, I did spend some time volunteering and giving money away. I didn't feel any need to take pictures, or develop memories. It felt much more like a final responsibility to dispose of my wealth and give it to people who could do something good with it.

Now I really only get online to talk about my imminent death and try to pass on what little knowledge I have about the subject when the topic comes up. The truth is, death makes you grow old. I'm 40 and feel like I have lived 90 years.

Anyway, your data may mean something to someone - why wait until you die to pass it on? Give it to people now - especially those good thoughts that you think might make them happy. There's no reason for you to make someone think "why couldn't he have said this to me while he was alive??" That's just cruel.

Life is short. Shorter than you think.

Re:Apropos (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436553)

When a friend of mine died in his thirties from cancer, I got to 'hang around' with him for the months leading up. Enough weird, unexplainable things happened then, like his seeing kids flying in through the windows, his seeing 7 doors in the wall, and one night him talking to/asking someone in the empty chair next to me if 'Jack' was coming over tomorrow. He got mad at me when I interuppted. Nodding at where the person's head would be (if they were visible) he said, "Uh huh..., he is..." 'Jack' was a hospice head nurse who never worked Sundays. He had to fill in the next day (Sunday) when an aide called in sick. Over the years I've had a few dreams of him from 'the other side', and of some family members who've "crossed over". And I'm not that creative a person to come up with those dreams. At times I wish I'd not been given this 'knowledge', because it's taken well over a decade to wrap my brain around it all.

We go somewhere, is what I'm trying to get across here. You'll be all right. We all will, when it's our time to take that ride. Best wishes to you Sir/Madam. God bless. :-)

Re:Apropos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43437081)

Don't delete your all your data. Like your photos. Go through a few of them and let your loved ones cherish them. Being left behind sucks too. You're probably not up to make a big deal out of it at this point, but the trivial things we do in this life do count.

Re:Apropos (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#43437273)

All great points. You may also have distant relatives or old friends who may still be interested in your life either now or later. At the very least, historians may be interested in your life, including in your local historical society. See for example:
"Why do historians value letters and diaries" []
"Thus, the historical value of reading diaries and letters involves understanding the significance of how individual writers employed, experimented with, or altered the conventional forms alive in their time. Perhaps more than any other kind of historical text, the personal writing we are considering reveals how people both embraced and resisted the time and place in which they lived. Their personal motives for employing either form -- the emotional and intellectual energy infusing the form with life each time it is written with a new subjectivity -- suggest much about how people in the past made their cultures, but made them from the materials at hand."

In any case, whether pictures or writings remain, you've made ripples in the world in all the lives you've interacted with. What is the universe quantum physicists describe but the sum total of all those sorts of waves?

Probably too late, but might give you a bit more time to make a few more ripples: []
"For example lung cancer patients, the median survival rate after the cancer diagnosis was 5.3 months for patients with low vitamin D levels, whereas it was 22.6 months for patients with high levels."

More about other cancer options in this thread: []

You might find parts of this book by Thomas Moore "Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ideals" of interest, or at least, just the summary: []
"Our lives are filled with emotional tunnels: the loss of a loved one or end of a relationship, aging and illness, career disappointments or just an ongoing sense of dissatisfaction with life. Society tends to view these "dark nights" in clinical terms as obstacles to be overcome as quickly as possible. But Moore shows how honoring these periods of fragility as periods of incubation and positive opportunities to delve the soul's deepest needs can provide healing and a new understanding of life's meaning. Dark Nights of the Soul presents these metaphoric dark nights not as the enemy, but as times of transition, occasions to restore yourself, and transforming rites of passage, revealing an uplifting and inspiring new outlook on such topics as:
* The healing power of melancholy
* The sexual dark night and the mysteries of matrimony
* Finding solace during illness and in aging
* Anxiety, anger, and temporary Insanities
* Linking creativity, spirituality, and emotional struggles
* Finding meaning and beauty in the darkness"

Although it sounds like you have already found a way to honor and respect the dark night you are facing. So, I link to that more by way of honoring what you say.

A key point he makes is that in mainstream Western culture, we usually see "growth" as about like a caterpillar getting bigger, but ignore growth as "transformation", like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. "Groundhog Day" is a favorite funny movie that connects with that. []

I wrote about my mother's last days here: []
" I'm glad I had the "free" time every once in a while to visit with my mom. One metaphor came to me as I would sit with my Mother (after probably having done more medical intervention than we should have for her :-( ), after having wheeled her in her reclining chair outside into a little circular court to get some sunlight, near where cars and ambulances and delivery vehicles came and went at the nursing home entrance. As I sat on a bench besides her, one day it occurred to me that this felt a lot like waiting at a bus stop for a bus to pull up. Sadder, of course, but still in some ways the same. And I realized, there can be a lot of human worth in just waiting with someone -- just waiting for the bus together, even if only one person is going on a trip just then. And a lot can happen even while you are just waiting. My child took some first steps in the court there on the grass, while we all spent time there together in the sun. I got a lot of insight into life and death just waiting with her. One can call it waiting, or one can call it partying too, I guess. :-) As much as an eighty year old woman with dementia and an oxygen tank who is starting to wonder who you are can party. :-) But she still might surprise you with a smile. :-) She was one tough old bird; I can only hope I inherited some of that. After I got an urgent call, I waited with her in her room through one night, holding her hand, and into what was her final hour. Not that she could probably understand me, but I repeated something from hospice literature that there is a difference between "giving up" and "letting go". The nurses brought me some lunch (and seemed happier to be doing *something* ) near the end. I didn't really want it, even though I was a little hungry, but thought I would eat some of it to at least be polite and not waste it (wasting food was a big deal to my Mom). Plus I thought I would be there for days. But you never know when the Angel of Death (if there is such a thing) will arrive for any of us, to give us one last helping hand getting on the bus out of here and to who knows where. That bus schedule isn't published. So in the short time I turned away and ate most of what was listed on the menu as "Hahvahd Beets", my mom died as her heart finally stopped. Somehow, that timing seems appropriate in retrospect. Having watched people starve to death, I'm sure somehow (at least, metaphorically) it made my mom happy to see me eating, even as she breathed her last. And something "Hahvahd", too. :-) She was always a bit of a snob (I inherited that too, sadly) -- but bless her anyway for her trying to help her family and others as best she could. :-) You would not think someone with dementia and two types of incontinence could still be a snob, but it is possible -- sometimes it is all you have left. :-( She surprisingly became more generous the less she had -- proud to give to us gifts others had given her. Of all the things she has given me, in some ways I treasure those little trinkets most of all. Unlike the death of my still mentally sharp and independent father from a heart attack about three years earlier, my mother's death, after fifteen or so years of slow descent into dementia, felt very different -- since my family had been in a sense grieving her loss one ability at a time for a very long time. []
We came back to thank her caregivers after she died, but had trouble finding them all as there was a big "Elvis" event happening right on that court, with loud music and lots of happy sounds and much of the staff. We didn't want to bring them down. I wish I could remember what song we heard as we pulled away in the car, but I remember it was an uplifting and appropriate one: []
My wife thinks it might have been "Love Me Tender": [] []
    In some sense, we are all terminally ill from the day we are conceived. :-) Even our institutions. :-) (I have such an amazing wife to put up with my sunny optimism, don't I? :-) "

Anyway, all the best in "what dreams may come" or not -- whatever the case may be... [] []

Thanks for your great post. One of my favorite cartoons is of a person who has fallen off a cliff, hanging on a branch about to break, but still taking a moment to enjoy a rare flower growing out of the cliff side. Sounds like you have been making the most of your last days. As you say -- life is short.

I also found inspiring what Valerie Harper (Rhoda on TV) said about her terminal brain cancer:,,20679402,00.html []
"I don't think of dying. I think of being here now."

Re:Apropos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43437311)

I don't know what else to say than platitudes. It's very weird what you're saying: that death makes you grow old. It seems to be something I'll understand one day.

From my GMail and Yahoo email accounts any single other site's password can be reset (and GMail emails are all forwared to Yahoo!, just for safety) so I left my GMail password in a safe at the bank. My family shall have the rights to have this safe opened the day I die.

Now my hard disks are encrypted (Debian) and that one password noone has it. So the day I'll die these data and backups are going to be locked by the cryptographic gods and so be it. Nothing of importance.

I hope you won't suffer too much and I'll watch /., looking for your "So long, and thanks for all the fish" : )

Re:Apropos (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#43437727)

Best, most important Slashdot thread ever, IMO. Cool.

Re:Apropos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43437621)

"Every breath we draw wards off the death that constantly impinges on us... Ultimately death must triumph, for by birth it has already become our lot and it plays with its prey only for a short while before swallowing it up. However, we continue our life with great interest and much solicitude as long as possible, just as we blow out a soap bubble as long and as large as possible, although with the perfect certainty that it will burst." - Arthur Schopenhauer

Re:Apropos (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#43438819)

If nothing else, I am glad that the timing of everything was such that this story came along for you to post in before you could not do so; I am better for having read it and will carry the thoughts with me going forward.

Re:Apropos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43438891)

I'll remember you, Anonymous. So long.

Re:Apropos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43438903)

Thank you for sharing, it means a lot. My wife passed away from cancer a few months ago and I watched her slowly disconnect from friends, music, movies, eventually food. Looking back it was a graceful transition, our hospice nurse told me she didn't need any of these where she was going. Your posting is a bit of your data - you have left it with us.

Ashes to ashes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436373)

and bits to trash.

bequeath to posterity (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about a year ago | (#43436387)

What should happen, at a minimum, is that your data gets packaged up and archived for maybe a hundred years, and then open sourced.

Basically, what a lot of historical people have always done with their personal papers.

The historical value of a lifetime of data for everyone who dies would be immense. And for fans of Caprica, maybe they'll bring "you" back.

BBC radio 4 - digital legacy programme (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year ago | (#43436429)

Check out the radio 4 (truly excellent channel)'s recent episode on our digital legacy [] (ep3 of Out of the Ordinary) - it discusses not only what happens to your data after you die (eg people can still send you emails and unless they know you're dead just assume you're ignoring them), but also your online presences (eg your facebook page that is still active). Then there's the issue that accessing your old data might help your grieving relatives (assuming you use a different email account for porn) or hurt them if they log on to the net and facebook helpfully sends to suggestions you connect with your dead friend, whose account is still active and un-closeable.

Who do you want to be able to read your old emails when you die? Are the dead entitled to privacy? Jolyon Jenkins reports on the increasingly contentious issue of our digital legacy.

As we lead more of our lives online, we leave behind an ever bigger digital footprint when we go. There are the public parts - the blogs, the tweets, the forum posts - but also the private things such as the emails stored on servers owned by companies like Google. Sorting out the digital legacy is becoming as onerous as being a traditional executor.

But it brings entirely new problems: in the case of people who have died suddenly or mysteriously, relatives sometimes feel that they are entitled to get access to the email accounts of dead person to try to find a clue to what was happening in their lives. But many email providers resist handing over this material because of a confidentiality clause in their terms and conditions. Jolyon Jenkins talks to the Stassen family in Wisconsin who took both Facebook and Google to court to gain access to the accounts of their son Benjamin who committed suicide. He also talks to Esther in Kenya who similarly would like to get into her dead sister's email account to try to find a clue to her unexplained death. But unlike the Stassens, Esther has had no luck.

These are uncharted waters, where analogies with old technology quickly break down, where the principles are unclear, and where important private and personal matters seem to be left to the discretion of big corporations.

e-books and such (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436445)

There can be real money tied up in your 'cloud presence' now. Books, movies and music for example. That should be transferable somehow, just like dead trees and CD's.

Other than those and the family pictures, nuke the rest.

Re: "Real" money could go poof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43436653)

If bitcoins are not recognized as "real" money how is inheritance protected?

Does your iTunes account just get closed when the credit card company tells Apple you died? It could take thousands of dollars of songs, movies, books and apps away from your family.

Re:e-books and such (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#43437913)

I've heard that music bought from Apple is drm'd, but burning them to disc then copying them from disc removes the drm. As for movies and books there are programs that available to remove drm from them, otherwise you can't pass them on to family or friends. You don't really 'own' them, you lease them.

Some celebrity once challenged Apple for the right to pass on his Apple bought mp3 collection after his death, and learned that his account is non-transferable.

The acronym is wrong (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | about a year ago | (#43436803)

The name needs a few more words. Instead of IAM, the acronym should be IAMNOT.

Re:The acronym is wrong (1)

fox171171 (1425329) | about a year ago | (#43436977)

Or maybe:

After Our Lives?

In My Will ... (1)

Improbus (1996348) | about a year ago | (#43436905)

I am leaving everything to my AI avatar. May the "Lord" have mercy on his/my soul, err, mind.

What really happens? (1)

fox171171 (1425329) | about a year ago | (#43436943)

So, ummm... do they actually delete your data? Or just your account? I didn't think they ever delete data.

Keep it if you want it. (1)

Seizurebleak (2020360) | about a year ago | (#43437035)

A good friend of mine recently died of a heart attack quite young. It was quite a shock, and there's not much to remember him with but I do have many years of MSN Messenger chat logs that I always made a point to keep for some reason. I haven't gone through them yet, but I would like to soon.

I wouldn't mind if my data was left up after I'm gone, in case anybody cares to see it. If you've ever contributed to a site or an online community, I think that information is nice to see for your still living loved ones. The memories I have with my friends online are sometimes just as good as the ones we've had in person, especially with people I don't get to see as much anymore.

I was actually thinking about this the other day (1)

aklinux (1318095) | about a year ago | (#43437145)

I think having something available like "Inactive Account Manager" is a good idea. It could be set up to either nuke, or give an estate executor legal access as desired by the account owner. Some of us may not want to leave the people we leave behind hanging.

While I tend to agree, on personal aspects, with the guy that's stage IV, I was thinking more of business type things. I sell real estate, I would hate to go out thinking I left someone unable to complete a sale or purchase and thus be unable to get on with their own lives because something happened to me. Maybe you're a coder and the project will die with you without the research you've accumulated. I don't think that because we're dying, we stop caring.

Sea Burial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43437391)

When I'm gone, I want all my ones and zeroes scattered in the Seas of the Web.
As I've been surfing these realms during my life, there will come a time to return the gifts I've been given to the waves and the tides and the vast waters that are the Internet.

(Also, I'd prefer that to happen in the Bay of Drama:

In Soviet Russia TV watches you! (1)

Thor Ablestar (321949) | about a year ago | (#43437655)

In America, you can always find a party . In Soviet Russia, the Party always finds YOU!! So I decided to encrypt ALL my data. The data I am going to give to my heirs will be encoded with some key on bootable flash drives and entrusted to 3 different persons, each having 2/3 of total key length. Any 2 of them (but no single person) will be able to decode them. If the Party finds any one of them while I live it will be impossible to obtain the data.

subject (1)

Legion303 (97901) | about a year ago | (#43437915)

As long as it doesn't embarrass or incriminate my friends or family members, why would I give a shit? I'd be dead.

Re:subject (1)

Thor Ablestar (321949) | about a year ago | (#43438667)

Why do you think that it will NOT incriminate your family members? For instance, my friend's granddaddy was a hunter and left a lot of rifles and ammo. My friend does not want to surrender it due to understandable self-defense concerns (It's Soviet Russia!) but if he dies his family members should know where his arsenal is hidden.

Last Will and Testament (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#43438737)

Whatever provisions you write in your will should be followed.

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