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Surprising Science

Staying Connected From Beyond the Grave

The Internet may provide a kind of immortality: Numerous websites now offer professional services to make it easier for the bereaved to create an online presence for a departed relative.

What’s the Latest Development?

A Silicon Valley start up has created a social networking sight not for the living, but for the dead. The service allows the living “to build their own virtual memorial, leave posthumous messages, and organise their affairs for the day they depart. It even lets the account holder send messages to the living long after he or she has shuffled off this mortal coil.” Another company will reserve server space for a yearly fee so that the departed can tell the story of their lives and make sure their last wishes are sent securely to the intended recipients. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Given the amount of time many people now spend in the Internet’s virtual space, it is only fitting that their lives also be commemorated there once they pass on. If immortality means the ability to interact with individuals still living after your own death, websites that offer digital tombstones fall more than a little short—but at least it offers a sense of chatting from beyond the grave. “For those dealing with grief,” says The Economist, “the experience can be cathartic as well as rewarding.” 


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