I'm not sure how many know him, but Dirk is one person who I "know" digitally from the times before Google+. And reading some of the reactions that have been circling the Googlesphere since his passing, I realize: the digital bonds between people – even people I have never met – are, in some cases, deeper than some of the bonds to people whom I have met. But surely, he's not the first person to die, nor will he be the last.
But it does serve as a reminder that death has a number of implications:
– What happens then to the digital content that a person has produced once they are no longer there to maintain it?
– Who can (and should) "bury" the person's digital profiles, if a "burial" is at all appropriate?
– Should an "heir" be able to inherit a digital profile – especially if profiles become, more or less, their own brands?
The digital world runs in asynchronous time, the real world runs in synchronous time. A person passing away does not change the impact they have left and will leave – because digital content is still there, still waiting to be discovered and consumed, and even a profile could be continued by a ghost writer. Or it may diminish, as relatives or platform operators cut off profiles and presences due to lack of time, knowledge, funds, or any other reason. There's a lot of possibilities on how our synchronous processes could work in an asynchronous web environment.
Reshared post from +Patrick Sharpe
I just found out that my friend and Google+ cohorthas passed away. Its caught me off guard and I can't think straight right now.
I'll miss you man, Google+ misses you.