• 2016’s Most Memorable Death Articles and More

    2016 will very likely be remembered as the year of the Dead Celebrity. Prince was certainly a tough death for Death Ref. And yet, a…

  • SxSW 2016: Everybody Dies: What Is Your Digital Legacy? Friday, March 11 @ 5pm

    Everybody Dies: What Is Your Digital Legacy? SxSW 2016 Panel with Alethea Lange, Dr. John Troyer (from Death Ref!), Megan Yip, and Vanessa Callison-Burch Friday,…

  • Day 31: And on Day 31 of 31 Days of Death the Death Reference Desk Rests

    31 Days of Death The Death Reference Desk Today marks the final day of Death Ref’s 31 Days of Death project. The plan was to…

  • Day 20: Patrick Stewart Campaigns with Assisted Dying Supporters

    Actor Patrick Stewart joins campaign for ‘assisted dying’
    BBC News (July 18, 2014)

    Somehow, and I don’t entirely know the reasons, I completely missed these interviews with actor Patrick Stewart on the recent House of Lords assisted dying debate.

    He’s got clearly articulated personal reasons for supporting Lord Falconer’s bill and understands how the proposed legislation would work. I also give him credit for supporting a cause that I can imagine some talent agents might suggest you avoid.

    That said, he’s the kind of actor (and big name movie star) who doesn’t flinch when it comes to supporting causes he believes in.

    Good interviews to watch.

    Actor Patrick Stewart joins campaign for ‘assisted dying’ BBC News (July 18, 2014) Somehow, and I don’t entirely know the reasons, I completely missed these…

  • Day 19: Digital Death Bill Marches Onward

    Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Approved
    A new act approved today by a national law group provides comprehensive provisions governing access to digital assets. The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) was approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) at its 123rd Annual Meeting in Seattle
    Uniform Law Commission Press Release (July 16, 2014)

    The Death Reference Desk has been so busy this week with all things assisted dying that we missed an important development in the digital death world.

    Earlier this week, the Uniform Law Commission approved a new model law that allows access to digital assets, i.e., photos, documents, social media accounts, etc., by a person other than the original owner if an executor is named.

    The ULC develops proposed legislation for potential use by all 50 US States. This particular bill is important for anyone thinking about who or whom will have access to your digital files, assets, properties, e-mails, photos, etc., after you die.

    We’ve only got the press release to work from right now, which isn’t ideal, but there will more to come about the ULC’s approval.

    The approved bill is summed up this way:

    In the modern world, digital assets have largely replaced tangible ones. Documents are stored in electronic files rather than in file cabinets. Photographs are uploaded to web sites rather than printed on paper. However, the laws governing fiduciary access to these digital assets are in need of an update.

     

    The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act [UFADAA] solves the problem using the concept of “media neutrality.” If a fiduciary would have access to a tangible asset, that fiduciary will also have access to a similar type of digital asset. UFADAA governs four common types of fiduciaries: personal representatives of a deceased person’s estate; guardians or conservators of a protected person’s estate; agents under a power of attorney; and trustees.

    But don’t worry, if you want to hide embarrassing e-mail messages or make sure that no one knows about your online shenanigans (we’re not judging) then this proposed legislation covers those situations too.

    Just remember: if you don’t want the kids to know about it, then don’t do it online.

    You can read the bill here.

    Unless, of course, we’re all just living in a digital simulation.

    Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Approved A new act approved today by a national law group provides comprehensive provisions governing access to digital…

  • Day 7: Death by BuzzFeed Drowning

    794 Ways in Which BuzzFeed Reminds Us of Impending Death The dark side of all those LOLs and fails, and how John Updike saw it…

  • Day 2: Only 5 Days Left to Help Andreia Start Her Death Studies Ph.D.

      I’m kicking off Day 2 of Death Ref’s 31 Days of Death project with a fundraising appeal. A really smart Brazilian journalist and Anthropologist…

  • Everything Oldish is New Again: Generation Y Re-discovers the World Wide Web of Death

    An Online Generation Redefines Mourning Expressions of grief take on many public forms in the digital age. By Hannah Seligson, New York Times (March 21,…

  • Radiolab: Am I Going To Die This Year? A Mathematical Puzzle

    Am I Going To Die This Year? A Mathematical Puzzle
    Robert Krulwich, Radiolab (January 08, 2014)

    Radiolab co-host, Robert Krulwich, posted a fascinating piece on a mathematical approach to determining when a person might die. Krulwich explains how he first picked up this topic:

    A few years ago, physicist Brian Skinner asked himself: What are the odds I will die in the next year? He was 25. What got him wondering about this, I have no idea, but, hey, it’s something everybody asks. When I can’t wedge my dental floss between my two front teeth, I ask it, too. So Brian looked up the answer — there are tables for this kind of thing — and what he discovered is interesting. Very interesting. Even mysterious.

    It turns out that a fascinating 8-year rule emerges for most human lifespans. I will let you read all about it.

    Tick-Tock goes the clock.

    And welcome to 2014.

    Skull Clock

    Am I Going To Die This Year? A Mathematical Puzzle Robert Krulwich, Radiolab (January 08, 2014) Radiolab co-host, Robert Krulwich, posted a fascinating piece on…

  • Selfies at Funerals: Why People Freak Out when Technology Mixes with Death

    Selfies at Funerals Jason Feifer, @HeyFeifer   RT If You’re 🙁 About Someone Dying Katy Waldman, Slate (November 1, 2013)   A Passionate Defense of…

  • Dumb Ways to Die Wins Big at Cannes Festival of Creativity

    In November 2012 we posted about Dumb Ways to Die, an Australian train company’s public safety campaign video. The video just won top awards at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. You can read more about the award from the Guardian: Cannes Lions: Dumb Ways to Die scoops top award.

    If you missed it last time, definitely check it out!

    In November 2012 we posted about Dumb Ways to Die, an Australian train company’s public safety campaign video. The video just won top awards at…

  • SxSW Platforms for Haunting: The Talking Dead Podcast

    Platforms for Haunting: The Talking Dead
    SxSW Interactive 2013

    In March 2013, the Death Reference Desk headed to the South by Southwest Interactive conference.

    A podcast of Death Ref John’s talk has now been released and you can listen to it above.

    He was part of presentation called Platforms for Haunting: The Talking Dead.

    Here is a description of the presentation.

    The relationship between death and technology is as old as human civilisation; from cenotaph to facebook memorial, industries have been built on our desire to remember and be remembered. Technology now enables us to create spine-chilling immersive experiences; allowing us to embody the worlds of our ancestors, enter our ghost stories and even plan a little post-mortem haunting ourselves. We want to move the conversation beyond discussions of data legacy to ask whether we can engender a new form of history, one that allows us to interact with the dead.

     

    Bringing together experts in human remains, memorialisation and new technology this Panel will explore our relationship with mortality in a digital age. The discussion will draw on recent projects which have used new technology to augment cemeteries, populate historic sites with ghosts of their past and instigate twitter conversations with a 1,610 year old woman.

    Platforms for Haunting: The Talking Dead SxSW Interactive 2013 In March 2013, the Death Reference Desk headed to the South by Southwest Interactive conference. A…