Last week I wrote about using a Google service to notify family and friends how to get access to your Google account information if you stop accessing your account. In most cases, this is a service that would be used should you pass away from life. It’s one thing to setup a service like this or to setup your own communication method, but it’s another matter if they will actually use the information or pass it along to other generations.
I don’t expect that my family will care much about most of the things in my digital life. My twitter and Google+ updates tend to be random stuff or link sharing. My Facebook posts are usually about family or some life event. Would that be interesting to my grandchildren? What about my blog posts? I spend a fair amount of time recording my thoughts on various topics each week. Will they care? Will they want to keep these things?
The reality is they won’t. Reality is they’ll need access to financial information and they may want to look through digital photos and videos. There may be the occasional family historian come along who creates a book for those alive. That’s a one time event and interesting for a moment, but then everyone moves on with their lives. For the most part, my life is my life to me. I get that.
I asked a friend and former co-worker what he thought about leaving behind information to his family. He replied “The family cares about your values and stories. The stories are usually a part of what reinforces or explains values. If you are lucky, two generations will care, and then your stories are trumped by theirs. But like your DNA, you hope the good stuff is being passed on.
This has been done with scrapbooks, heirlooms, and letters in the past (and those are formal letters, not to-do lists.)
So I hope our photos, videos, and family blog posts are things my kids will have. They will also want our music collection, if such a thing is needed in the future.”
How much information do I have about my ancestors? Not much at all. My guess is you have limited information as well. Does universal access to digital media and the easy of recording our lives change that now? One thing is for sure, it opens the possibilities to share data and create family archives. My guess is some families will take advantage of this while others will not. It takes time and effort to manage digital assets. How many of us will make a plan?
For me and my data there is a plan. But it’s only as good as how it is used by those left behind me. I’d like to think my work will be important to them. But that is out my control and not something to worry about.
I’ll go on keeping and creating content for both personal and shared family memories. Something may be important or valuable. I’ll leave that to decide for those left behind.