Transactive Memory and the Dearly Departed

The Washington Post published an interesting article, “Let Online Lives Outlast the Dearly Departed” (Rosenwald, January 25, 2010; A01, or search for the tag “transactive” on delicious.com). With the advance of technology, more and more of our personal information is stored online. Our logons and passwords are stored throughout cyberspace. Included here are bank accounts, stockbroker accounts, insurance accounts and other accounts of considerable importance. This article addressed the issues that arise when your physical being leaves behind only its virtual reality. In the terminology of this blog this information is residing in transactive memory.

The Post article writes of a coming cybercrisis as many Internet services have policies that forbid accessing or transferring accounts, including recovering money without the password. Court orders are usually required to circumvent this requirement. Of course, this assumes that those you left behind know that there are accounts to access. At one time there was a paper trail that could be traced to find these accounts. But should you go the paperless route, there is no paper to trace. The paper trail has gone online.

Of course the simplest way of dealing with this problem is to leave your loved ones with a paper trail leading to these accounts and their passwords. Such a paper trail is risky, however, should it fall into the wrong hands. Legacy Locker, legacylocker.com, provides a means of securing this information in cyberspace. For a fee you can store all your passwords an log-in information. When you pass-on this information will be accessible to whomever you designate as digital executor. Short of passing on, such a resource can be helpful in dealing with less traumatic problems, such as forgetting a password.

Entrustet is part of LinkedIn and provides a variety of services in this area. As do DataInherit, datainherit.com, Parting Wishes, partingwishes.com, and deathswitch.com. If I Die, ifidie.org, is a free service, that will send out an email written by you with all the information you want to pass on.

In all of these services you are employing transactive memory to store information after your biological memory is no longer available to function.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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