New book examines "Your Digital Afterlife"

December 2, 2010

A new book written by School of Information and Library Science (SILS) MSIS student Evan Carroll (BSIS '08), experience designer and researcher, and John Romano, interaction designer and technology researcher, examines the issues surrounding digital files after you are gone.

The book, Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What's Your Legacy?, looks at overarching subjects such as, "Your Digital Life, Death and Beyond" and "Securing Your Digital Legacy."

What happens to our personal online information when we die? Not the easiest subject to confront, but the fate of our accumulated digital data and possessions takes on increasing importance as we shift progressively towards an all-digital culture. Your Digital Afterlife, from Peachpit, examines the numerous legal, cultural, and technical issues that could prevent access to these assets.
Carroll has been discussing the subject on the blog, "The Digital Beyond" that he and his co-writer Romano created, and felt that this difficult subject needed to be confronted. Many future heirlooms such as family photos, home movies, and personal letters now exist solely in digital form, and in many cases are stored using Flickr, YouTube, Gmail, and other popular services. There are not yet sufficient laws or social customs surrounding the issue of digital preservation, and if steps aren’t taken to make these resources available to loved ones, they could be lost forever.

"After blogging about this topic for some time, I came to realize that not much was certain about digital estate planning except that seemingly nobody was talking about this very complex topic," said Carroll. "I set out, with my co-author, to write this book to hopefully change that and help everyday people understand the new digital lifestyle and how that relates to their legacies."

"The problem with our afterlives—where ever they may be—, as zombies know too well, is keeping our earthly remains intact, recognizable and resting in the right places," said Paul Jones, director of and clinical associate professor at SILS and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at UNC at Chapel Hill. "In Your Digital Afterlife, Evan Carroll and John Romano draw on their years of considering the afterlife of our digital assets from their blog, The Digital Beyond, to help us understand how to leave the digital elements of our pasts to caring curators of our choice. One thing is certain, we’ll all need this good advice."

The book is now available on:

For more information about the book, the authors and testimonials, visit the Web site: