Webwill: Your digital identity after death

Just what happens to all this endless ‘stuff’ that we produce online after we’re no longer around to enjoy it? It was one of the topics of conversation recently when @faris was over in London and held an impromptu Beersphere. Which got me thinking, what if there was a way to pre-emptively update our Facebook page, our Twitter page, our blog and all the other online destinations we produce content for with a message. What would that message be and would we use it?

A new service which caught my eye is Webwill which prefaces with asking the question “How do you want to live your life online after death?” In one sentence it describes what it sets out to do, I like that. It’s not an easy thing to do. Ironically, it’s in Beta at the moment and on an invite only basis.

A couple of the facts they give in the video is that 1 in every 3 women in Sweden has their own blog and 850m photos are uploaded to Facebook every month. Over 10billion photos a year. What will happen to those photos in 10 years? Will they be as relevant?

It seems to have all come to the fore recently with Facebook recommending you to people you know who have passed away. Then ask the question, how would Facebook have known? These kinda measures need to be put in to place and I think something like Webwill could help to moving in the right direction to do that. It must be harrowing for someone to be recommended to reconnect with a friend or loved one no longer around. Check these posts out, first from Mashable not so long ago documenting ‘How to eliminate “dead friend” suggestions’ and second from Consumerist where Facebook were embroiled in a lengthy battle for this very reason and performed a u-turn on their own policy which states that “it was their policy to keep dead members profile’s in a “memorialized” state.”

Back to this whole notion of why we even have a desire to keep all these different profiles updated. We’re living for the era of now, so consumed in what we’re doing this minute and maybe not taking the time to enjoy the here and now because we’re too busy documenting it. (For when and for who?) Putting up pictures on Flickr, tweeting about it, writing a Facebook status update, telling people we don’t know on a chat room or forum what we’re doing.  This is important but all those little artefacts you put up online, stay online, indefinitely. It’s always something people seem to forget about when they engage in sometimes hugely libellous slanging matches online where an apology has to be made public or when emails containing conversations which shouldn’t have happened in print are written. Once it’s down on the online notepad, it’s permanent.

So with that morbidly futuristic post in mind check out the video below, pretty fascinating stuff.

myWebwill – in english! from Lisa Granberg on Vimeo.

Update – Here’s a video explanation from the founders via Venturebeat