100% of the people who read this post will die. As will 100% of the people who have accounts with Google. And Google’s finally doing something about it with the launch of Inactive Account Manager, an awkwardly-named but sensible service for deciding what to do with your digital legacy. I’ve written about death in the social era before and the need for social web services to develop new protocols for the decease; as personal online data accumulates, the need is ever greater.
Google has created a straightforward step-by-step process: select what “inactive” should mean for your account; verify your mobile phone number; and select the data (email, contacts, photos, etc.) you’d like to share with a designated recipient; or, delete your account entirely.
I did pause at the hardest screen of all: a blank email to complete to your digital heir. We don’t often take the time to consider or have the opportunity to craft our last words in pixels. What subject line is appropriate from the afterlife? What’s the optimal email length from a deceased sender? Save some time for this; that email message was short, but took far longer to write than I ever imagined.