Managing Your Life When You’re Dead

Here’s something that might strike you just as odd as the e-mails you can have sent out should you be Raptured.  However, there is a practical component to this that makes it worth considering.

There are services that will maintain your passwords for various online accounts and services in the event of your passing (H/T The Washington Post).  While I don’t think it’s necessary to put something like this on the cloud, I can see the need for such a master list of information.  As noted in the article, with the proper documentation many online banks and similar services will release account information, but it could make it easier if your attorney has a copy of the information, or at least the account information for one of these storage services.

What comes across as more morbid are the services that would send email notifications in the event of your death.  This is just a personal preference, but I would prefer a less automated communication, should the deceased feel the need to make one.  Those who like the notion of a real phasmatis apparatus (a ghost in the machine) may prefer this approach.  At least some companies are taking care to maintain strict confidentiality of online assets, as Legacy Locker’s Jeremy Toeman describes in the article.  But I can easily see someone signing up for such a service, forgetting that they had done so, and by not logging on as requested, prompt email notifications to their designees of an untimely passing.

I suspect I’m being more than a little old-fashioned, but I’m not sure that such services provide a significant advantage over a proper list of instructions (written or digital) to your executor or attorney in the event of your passing.  It should, of course, be updated regularly, just as any online service should be.


Open Government: Not Just Data Dumps and Facebook Pages

There are a couple of recent articles in government magazines (that is, magazines with government as a topic, not magazines published by the government) that highlight a lot of the challenges facing the implementation of the Open Government Directive.  In many cases it can be summarized by trying to change course in a large ocean-going vessel.  You need a lot of room, and you need all the crew behind you.  A lot of little things have to change in order for the course correction to take place.

A lot of these little things are highlighted in this NextGov article looking back at the one year anniversary of the announcement of the Open Government Initiative.  The author notes that just dumping data sets is not necessarily helpful for outside observers, because the data sets might not be well organized.  They could be in a format easily scoured by software, but not easy to understand when read.  At some point, the generation of data will have to change to better accommodate readers that may not be versed in agency jargon and practice.  In other words, “weave online transparency into daily operations.”

There are, of course, legitimate interests that need to be dealt with – security, privacy, bandwidth.  But these are surmountable with proper planning.  And if this general push towards transparency is going to be sustainable, taking these steps is essential, otherwise when the next administration comes in with different priorities, the institutional inertia takes over and things slip back to status quo ante.

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