I 2013 skrev jeg specialet Døden i den Digitale tidsalder, som er den første, større undersøgelse foretaget om digital arv i Danmark. I specialet interviewede jeg 9 hospiceansatte og spurgte ind til deres kendskab, tanker og forhold til digital arv. Digital arv er kort fortalt de private, digitale ejendele, som fx digitale fotos, hjemmesider eller personlige mailkorrespondancer, som vi efterlader os ved vores død, og som vores pårørende oftest ikke har adgang til postmortem. Grafikken nedenfor har jeg dels udviklet på baggrund af data fra mit speciale, og dels på baggrund af kilder fra amerikanske forskere der ligeledes beskæftiger sig med området. Den kan forhåbentlig give en mere konkret idé om, hvad digital arv kan være.
Grafik af Astrid Waagstein for Liv&Død.
Sammen med hovedresultaterne fra mit speciale, har jeg samlet den nyeste viden på området i denne artikel om digital arv An exploratory study of digital legacy among death aware people (2014).
ABSTRACT: Ten-fifteen years ago bereaved family was likely to find valuable heirlooms such as old letters, photos and diaries of their deceased in drawers and old shoeboxes. Today most of these effects are stored in the cloud if not on password-protected devices, which paradoxically can only be accessed by the deceased. The increasing digitisation means that we live a great part of our lives online, and thus there’s a big chance that we might leave a great part of our online life behind. Our digital persona potentially constitutes digital photos, letters, diaries, playlists, blogs and much more, but what happens to our digital artefacts when we die? Will our relatives be able to gain access to these digital heirlooms? And do we want them to?
My research explores the awareness of and sentiments on digital legacy through eleven semi structured interviews carried out in January 2013 with death aware respondents, mainly hospice employees. The term death awareness refers to a state of consciousness emerging from being either terminally ill, a close relative to terminally ill person, a hospice employee or the like. The awareness is evoked by the realisation of the irrevocability of death, and it notably affects both thoughts and actions of the death aware person (Waagstein, 2013).
The study has shown that the respondents were not at all aware of having a digital legacy. Despite their death awareness and having experienced problems with inaccessible digital assets regarding family or friends they had not considered the same problem regarding their own legacy. However, the actions and statements of the interviewees make it clear that the respondents wish to preserve and safe-keep their digital effects as they have great emotional, practical and historical value to them – effects such as digital documents (personal letters, poetry, songs), digital photos, texts, blogs, digital music collections, e-Boks content (a digital platform for secure communication used by the public sector in DK), access to online banking and hardware, and the hardware and passwords itself. Furthermore a revisit at the hospice six months after unveiled that the hospice employees had begun discussing digital legacy and the passing of access codes with their dying patients.