Plan Ahead

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Susan became really interested in everything related to personal information management. She was trying to figure out ways how she could do it herself, but she also experimented some of the newly available web-based services. She found exciting a service that enabled its users to plan for their funerals. She told Nick the next time they met. Nick just laughed and told her a story about his grandpa. When he was forty, he wrote down the contacts of all the people he wanted to have at his funeral. Everybody was joking about his funeral folder all the time. His grandpa maintained the list up-to-date for a long time. He passed away when he was eighty-two. All that Nick’s parents had to do was to pick up the folder and send the invitations to the people on the list.

Post-Humous Messaging Services

The basic do-it-yourself approaches for creating, maintaining and bequeathing our digital legacy are described in Simple Best Practices. We may also use the available web-based services that were created specifically for this purpose. However, some of them are payed and especially younger people may find it wasteful to spend money on something they won’t need for decades. Managing personal information and preparing digital legacy proves to be useful not only to the bereaved, but also to the living, since it allows us to access all of our important information well-structured and in one place. The so-called digital afterlife services are currently the only ones designed with acknowledgment for the death of their users and ensure at least a minimum possibility that our digital artifacts will be actually bequeathed according to our will. These services are still very young and they inevitably carry some imperfections. We highly recommend to examine each of them thoroughly before their possible use. was the very first post-humous email service to mark the birth of the digital afterlife industry. It was created by Michael Krim in 1999, about five years before (the first version of Facebook) would come. It was discontinued because, back then, there would not be enough public interest for this kind of service.

Some years later more of these services would be created. They enabled an elegant way for bequeathing our assets, or leaving individual messages to those we care for (or don’t). Of course it was always possible to deliver post-humous messages with physical media, but the difference is that now we don’t depend on others to deliver it anymore. The post-humous email services can give us the opportunity to write a message for every beneficiary individually.

Dead Man’s Switch or Just in Case I Die are both post-humous email services providing the means to write and save a set of email drafts. Users have to check in periodically, otherwise the distribution event is activated and the emails are sent out. The disadvantage of these services is clearly the lack of control over the trigger event and the probability of spreading around the post-humous messages while we are still alive.