Social profiles living on after a person's death - some thoughts
A while back I read this post (I wish I could remember the link) about Facebook suggesting that he reconnect with his friend but there was one gotcha in this situation - his friend had passed away a number of months ago - therefore even if this person tried to "reconnect" it would be a one-way conversation (unless they enlisted the help of medium).
In any case, this got me thinking. These days we've got a ton of information, personal information online. If you use facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube and so on to post your photos, to post videos, status updates, and comment or like or dislike things, we've got an idea of what someone is up to based on the shows, books, music they like and dislike, the comments they make and the friends they keep. If you use things like foursquare and gowalla people can get an even better idea about you - and once you start blogging - well, then you're even more exposed (I guess I am a glass half full on this trifecta).
If such services continue to exist, or at least if they get archived (like twitter is) by some national or international authority, then the research potential is HUGE. Right now historians will be able to use twitter for example to see what the zeitgeist is in a particular period in time. This data has generally not been available unless filtered through some authority - newspapers, local historians or local-little-known writers. This technology allows future historians to see what a segment of society thought and said about certain things, but it also allows one to examine the life of a famous person, many years after they are gone.
This of course poses a problem. Let's say that I am an eccentric writer who becomes famous 100 years after my death and there is a revival to find out more about the life and times of me, the eccentric writer. By using facebook, twitter, blogs, and geolocation I could probably fabricate some reality which is really very far from my own reality, so on the surface future literature historians might get the wrong idea about me - because they've fallen for my eccentric view of reality. I guess where there is great power for knowledge, there is also great power for disinformation.
As I said...random thoughts...