Digital Afterlives: Patterning Posterity through Networked Remains


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Media, Culture, and Communication


This dissertation asks how technologies of posterity and preservation are disrupted in a networked world. Given how intimately people are tied to the production of online profiles and accounts, digital interactions have increasingly come to feel like possessions, property, or even creative works. But, these communicative traces are not legally recognized as property nor passed down to kin members. Communicative traces were first valorized with Web 2.0’s social networking memorials, spawning the field of digital estate planning. They form predictive patterns of who and what people are, thus linking everyday interactions via social media to cybernetic theories of mind and transhumanist visions. The affective value of digital remains, however, is complicated by the labor needed to maintain them.