Eternal Life, Digital Style

By Edward Cone  |  Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010 18:08 PM

by Tim Moran

Some of you, no doubt, have wills. Clark Boyd and I do not, which is what makes this idea so intriguing to us.

Boyd is the author of "Online 'Locker' Preserves Your Digital Life For Eternity" on DiscoveryNews.com. Boyd came across a Web site called Legacy Locker, which is in the business of acting as your "'digital safety deposit box' where you can store all of the passwords to your online accounts (be they email, bank accounts or your Twitter feed). Then, for each account, 'you assign a beneficiary, someone to whom you want to entrust your digital content for the future.'"

My first reaction after reading Boyd's piece was, OK, here's yet another cockeyed Web brainstorm that is probably about as dead-on-arrival as its prospective clients will be someday. But I clicked through to the site itself and, well, maybe it's not such a nutty idea after all.

(Digression: I was, however, immediately put off by the Legacy Locker home page. First, it is so very uncool. It has fluffy clouds and a stock picture of young couple with a baby--it looks like the cover of a pamphlet you would get at some non-sectarian religious instruction class. But the absolute worst sin is its use of the phrase "friends and loved ones": "Legacy Locker is a safe, secure repository for your vital digital property that lets you grant access to online assets for friends and loved ones in the event of loss, death, or disability." Is that hackneyed phrase ever used in relation to anything except sickness and/or death? I think not. I would also think that such a clever Web concept as this would go out of its way to avoid the trite and traditional. Afraid to mess around with Death, is it? Can't be Webby and hip and now when Death is involved, eh? Too bad--a very "now" idea presented in an unfortunate "then" style.)

Nevertheless, both Boyd and I are rather taken with the idea: "The cost for securing your digital legacy? Thirty dollars a year, or a one-time fee of $300. Not bad, considering that also gives you unlimited space to make digital back-ups of important paper documents (your will? ha!), pictures, etc. You can also trial a scaled-back free version." Even leaving out the aspect of Legacy Locker that involves your death--which must be reported to the site by at least two recognized and official "verifiers" (there's a lovely powder-blue clickable box that says, "Report A Passing"; remember, you will be gone when the Locker really begins to do its stuff for your. . .well, you know who)--using it to do nothing more than keep all your passwords safe and store backup copies of your important stuff makes it seem entirely worthwhile.

Boyd thinks it's a nifty idea, too: "I can hear you scoffing at this. But just think for a minute of all the different accounts you have, and all the information you have tucked away in various corners of the web. If nothing else, this would serve as a great place to collect all of that information in one place. You, while living, can of course access this information 24/7 as part of your Legacy Locker account." I might try the free version to see how it works because, well, that's just the kind of live guy I am. After all, I'm sure it'll become very popular at some point because, like the cemetery, people are dying to get in.