A whole field of study called 'Digital Death' seeks to address the issues of the future of human death and its relationship with digital technology and the internet. Understanding these implications is both practical and futuristic, in ways that make many people uncomfortable, especially when it becomes clear that very little, if any, of our current human digital content will ever remain accessible for future generations. 

But how did our long ago relatives in the early 1990s imagine what death on the web might be like? And how do concepts of future internet technology potentially shape what ‘being dead’ will mean in the near future if and when an individual’s social media accounts recreate that person after they die? Who cares? And who is making money off it? 

The future of human mortality is much less about whether or not our digital lives can be preserved after we die. The real question is whether and if that scenario is desirable.

Dr John Troyer is the Director of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath. He is a co-founder of the Death Reference Desk website (@DeathRef), the Future Cemetery Project (@FutureCemetery) and a frequent commentator for the BBC. His most recent book is Technologies of the Human Corpse (published by the MIT Press in 2019).

This Lunchtime Talk is part of Open Studio Friday, which takes place at the Studio every week.

Do you want to find out what is going on at the Pervasive Media Studio? Are you interested in meeting our residents, talking about a specific project or curious about pervasive media? Why not pack a sandwich and join us for one of our Lunchtime Talks and Open Studio Friday. Lunchtime Talks are informal presentations by Studio residents and associates. They normally take place at 1pm on Friday, are free and open to everybody who’s interested in what we do. After the Talk, we also invite you to stay with us for the afternoon to continue the conversation or work on your own projects. We provide chairs, tables, wireless and a great space. You bring what you need to work with (laptop/mobile). Our open afternoons close at 5pm. Let us know if you’d like a tour of the space and we'll be happy to show you around just before the talk. Send an email to: studio@watershed.co.uk to book your place on a tour.


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