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Footprints in the digital sand

posted on #1
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Dear friends of wikiloops,

I'll attempt to address a quite unusual topic here today, and my intention is to invite you to share your opinions with me on this - I'm aware this is not necessaryly a happy topic I'm addressing here, but I do hope you will agree it is worth being thought about.

wikiloops is a kind of digital neighborhood where new neighbours are welcomed, loose and not-so-loose friendhips are made when making music together, and I do hope most of you will agree that adding to someone elses music and listening closely to the unique way someone plays (and everyone does) creates a feeling of closeness.

One of the very few things we have untill now never adressed is how we are dealing with the unforeseeable moment when one of our "digital neighbours" dies - wikiloops does not have any function to represent that at this time.

Sadly, it does happen!
I'm usually the first to tell people that "being able to come and go as one likes" is one of the great things about wikiloops,
and I do not rush to conclusions about why someone who may have been active a while ago may not be active right now - there are zillions of possible explanations, and if you judged my own "livelyness" by the date of my last upload, you might go terribly wrong about my health state.

There are however cases in which people let me know the reasons for being absent, or in which friends of a member contact me to let me know that something happened - and with close to 50.000 members, quite a lot of things happen.
I know of several members who have been diagnosed with a variety of quite concerning health issues, have spent time in hospitals & getting treatment,
but whenever such news reach me, I remind myself that "letting Dick know" is not the same as "I want the whole of wikiloops to know", so I treat such information confidential.
So far, I have only experienced one case in which a users relative contacted us to let us know the member had passed away, and I have been undecided ever since wether it would be a good thing to add some kind of notion to that users profile so no one would wonder why there are no messages coming back.

OK, so, now that my topic of today has probably become a little clearer,
let me tell you what I'd like to ask you, and what my thoughts are.

I'm aware people rather do not think about such unforeseeable incidents, and I have no intention to force the topic onto anyone.
I had to deal with "what would happen to wikiloops if I got run over by a bus?"-scenarios (they call that the "bus factor" of a project, no joke) myself and ended up writing a twenty page manual on what needs to be done so wikiloops can be continued in that (hopefuly unlikely) case. That's part of taking care of my responsibilities as this projects host, and I'm very aware you members do not have that kind of responsibility.

If you got run over by a bus (may you be protected from that and everything else!) and would not be able to re-visit wikiloops, we would not know and hope you went on a world tour with some phantastic band -
wikiloops accounts do not get closed automaticly while you are gone, so your profile and music would sit and wait for you to return, which is not really a technical problem to wikiloops. I have no interest at all to remove such accounts, and I have seen users return after years of being busy with something else - just to make sure you know I'm not out to wipe some storage space or something.

What I would like to invite you to think about for a moment is how you would like wikiloops to treat your "digital heritage" one day, and I'd like to point you at some rather technical things we will need to keep in mind when looking for a good solution.

Things to think about:
- Since in the worst case scenario, you may not be able to inform us yourself, everyone wanting to see some kind of special way of dealing with their profile and music would need to set up some kind of "fallback" solution that would entitle someone else to give the notion.
That would need to include some kind of verification, so we can make sure the person reporting the incident is really acting on your behalf.
In the past, I have been contacted thru wikiloops user accounts where the users family managed to log in to the account with a members password, but if you do not leave any notion about your wikiloops account to anyone, then there is no way we could verify such a report was not a bad hoax, so, verification is one thing to think about.

I've actually wondered wether it would make sense to offer a one-page print-template of a document one could add to ones important paperwork to let people know they should contact us on wikiloops if something bad happened to you, and stating some hints on how you'd like to see your profile changed and/or a notice added.

- If you feel we should have such passed away members marked with some kind of extra-icon or message on the user profile, feel free to offer thoughts on how that could look.
I'd like to stay away from using religious symbols (someone proposed showing a cross and the date when someone passed away) since they may not be suitable for anyone - the least depressing display might be a sign saying "gone on tour", with maybe a mouse-over info bubble stating that a user passed away on a certain date.

Looking foreward to your thoughts on this.

I just re-read my post, and it does have a quite technical approach on a quite sad topic. Many of you reading this will know which recent news have brought me to writing this post, and I do hope you understand why I have deliberately not mentioned one single name here. It is not a lack of personal concern at all, I hope I did not create the impression that the recent events did not trouble me.

Have a nice sunday out there, and thanks for the read :)
posted on #2
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Joined: 24.07.14
Ich finde es gut das du dieses Thema hier ansprichst.
Ein Formular das man hier ausfüllen kann um festzulegen was mit dem eigenen digitalen Erbe hier geschehen soll fände ich sinnvoll. Den Vorschlag zu Hause ein Papier für die Hinterbliebenen zu hinterlegen in dem mitgeteilt wird was zu tun ist in diesem Fall finde ich ebenfalls gut.
Die Idee mit dem "on tour" finde ich gut und als Kennzeichnung könnte ich mir eine dezente, schwarze Banderole an einer Ecke des Profilbildes vorstellen.
Ich finde es wichtig das wir hier darüber sprechen ...
Friedrich Nietzsche: "Without music, life would be a mistake."
posted on #3
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Joined: 27.09.14
Yes, I think it is something that needs to be addressed, good point!! Some time ago I filled in some details on Facebook as to what should happen if I die, so social networks look at this matter.

I guess a mention on/near the Avatar or whatever that I am now playing with Jimi Hendrix would be most welcomed, and yes no religious symbol needed, but maybe you could give each the option of pre-determine what shall his RIP message say, what symbol etc. if they want to. So it should be part of the profile set up.
posted on #4
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Ich finds auch richtig, dass das hier besprochen wird! Ich bin da ganz auf Ulis Seite. Die Idee von TG, " Now playing with Hendrix, Elvis or someone else" finde ich richtig gut.
Rockin´ in a free world !
posted on #5
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hi, have read it and thank you Dick for asking the community how they would like to handle it ... how about a black bow (maybe in the corner of the profile pic of the gone) ? .. I embrace everyone, who´s afraid or in trouble
posted on #6
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First of all, my apologies, I was the one with the stupid idea of a cross. I'm raised catholic but as a firm non-believer in the institutes of religions I thought I would automatically stay away from such things, how wrong I was. I totally forgot the religious connection in my eagerness to inform Dick while I was describing the things we might have to think about. Thanks Dick for pointing me out that mistake, and I really mean that. By the way hats off for the great introduction to this delicate subject.

As much as I like basic idea and thought behind the line playing with Jimi (or Elvis), I can imagine some people have a different taste of music. What about Jaco? But to be more serious such a line may come over as a bit too lighthearted for some people. And, just like the cross, black is not everywhere associated with death and mourning. Come to think of it maybe even ribbons could be religiously claimed in this crazy world, I don't know.

So I picked up the glove and thought about it, this time at least a few seconds more... ;)
A musical symbol should be neutral. And it has an obvious connection with what we are doing here. So here is my contribution: If we take the end of a music piece, symbolized in the last bar of a music-sheet. And optionally there could be a rest symbol in that bar. I think that this could be made small enough to be added and still be readable and noticed as such near the avatar or username with his or her contributions.
Fivestringer attached the following image:

Edited by Fivestringer on June 05 2017 04:17
posted on #7
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this is a really touchy subject ! and i very much understand / empathize ...

Although i like Fivestringer's idea very much (i was going to submit a similar rest/tacet approach myself) i have no clue if i would want to be tagged if ever something happened to me ? I guess i should make up my mind sometime ?

In the meantime i suppose that, like you explained, no automatic procedure should be applied if a member didn't specifically expressed a will ? this shall mean we need an aditional 0/1 field on the profile ?
clusters Clusters CLUSTERS !!!!!!
posted on #8
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You're very right, of course no automatic procedures. It'll probably require hand labor but I presume were not getting in the habit of dropping like flies. But please a little less rigid than facebook. I once made a post to them that it was painfull to see people congratulate a Facebook 'friend' on his birthday whom I knew has past away.:@ There was even a post from his son that he past away. But of course that was pushed down by the congratulations to his birthday and a year later, the same thing happened. And the message that he died went even further down.
Facebook did reply me. They had send him a message, and they will take appropriate action as soon as he replied to it... :(
He past away in December 2014 and less than 3 weeks ago again somebody wished him a nice day for his birthday...

Edited by Fivestringer on June 05 2017 11:03
posted on #9
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It's very good to talk about it so we also have to think about what we want with our music after we left this world. like the symbol of fivestinger I think it fits very well
posted on #10
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I'd like my music and profile to stay please....a legacy for my three Sons to turn to and listen to.
Personally, I would like to see a banner on the page, somewhere prominent that can't be missed...because not everyone reads the 'about me' tab, they head straight for the music tracks. I would suggest a banner, maybe something similar to 'Gone...but not forgotten'
Being Christian, I do not like the cross symbol...to me it represents suffering.
I have tried to contact a few musicians on here and had no answer, except from one, and you do wonder where have they gone?
posted on #11
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Just for the record, when I die, my guitar is going with me, and so is my computer and wikiloops; I plan to continue with it after I physically die....just hope the internet connection is fast enough......
posted on #12
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Es macht keinen Unterschied, ob ich lebe oder schon tot sein sollte, falls jemand mit mir jammen will. Es wird mir eine Ehre sein und ich sage vorab "Danke!".
Es wird mir ein Vergnügen sein.
Ich möchte bitte keine öffentliche Kennzeichnung.
Klar, mit dem Tod verschwinden tausende Licks und Songs...und werden wieder geboren.
Wer sich Sorgen um mich macht: Bei einer Million Thumbs unter einem Song hat er Grund dazu!!
Falls Wikiloops lange existiert, kann man mit verstorbenen Künstlern musizieren. Eigentlich faszinierend. Muss man aber absolut nicht wissen. Stelle mir gerade eine Familien-4-Generationenband vor!!!
Haltet die Maschine bitte noch 40 Jahre am Laufen! Danke und alles Gute!
posted on #13
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Tough topic, Dick! But one - like all aspects surrounding death - that actually needs a frank and honest discussion. Peoples' digital legacy is an increasing concern in my opinion and, as one ties in more and more of even the most mundane aspects of their life into a password-protected, encrypted digital nightmare, this is actually a serious problem. And often all too stressful for the people left behind who need to tie up these ethereal loose ends!

And excellent timing given my recent absence from here. From busy, regular uploader to almost non-existent for several months!

It's becoming too common now where someone dies and the relatives have to pore through often stressful conversations with stroppy companies who won't stop charging them money, often giving the answer that it's 'privacy and show me they're dead' sort of thing.

My passwords are in my head. When I die, my phone is useless to anyone else; my accounts are inaccessible and no company is going to hand over access. Someone is going to have to go through the laborious and likely upsetting task of informing each of these companies that I'm a bit dead and here's the piece of paper to prove it.

Facebook has started taking this seriously with their 'memorial pages' and the ability to delegate another user full access to their account but it's still a protracted and emotional process.

There are now a couple of companies on the web which offer 'digital will' servcies - something I've genuinely considered starting in the UK as there's little here and each country's legal issues are different. This is effectively an online repository where you can store and maintain all your passwords, etc., for all your accounts and, in the event of your demise, a nominated family member/friend may unlock this in order to take care of your affairs... The premise being having to only prove death once instead of every time! But such solutions are a way off yet. My analysis of such a service concluded with how I made a living from it:. basically, 'I can't make a living out of others' misery. I can't easily charge people to store their most-personal details because they might drop dead tomorrow'. Damn my ethics and I just don't think people are ready or willing to consider such a service. I think it should actually be a state service...

My current solution is all my passwords being in safe storage at my mother's house. But I have to keep updating it!

Ultimately, I don't know the solution to your question. But you're one of the few out there considering such a thing - proof once again that the 'Loops is always looking ahead! But I would hope that, in the event of me heading into the world of not being very alive, Wikiloops could be informed somehow. Most out there have Facebook, etc. - I don't know. I abstain from most social media - the Loops is my social media, even though I've been missing for a significant time recently!
posted on #14
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I would be expecting some sort of Tribute Album in my permanent exit! No joke, I would want my Wikiloops legacy to live on, as Stella noted earlier... Best of health to everyone...
rp3 (Raymond)
posted on #15
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Yesterday morning our dear friend Ian died in a hospice in the Netherlands. We miss you all very much ... R.I.P. Babbazitt ...
Friedrich Nietzsche: "Without music, life would be a mistake."
posted on #16
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so very sad to read this...
posted on #17
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Uloisius wrote:
Yesterday morning our dear friend Ian died in a hospice in the Netherlands. We miss you all very much ... R.I.P. Babbazitt ...

Very very sad!
What a loss...
Life is.
posted on #18
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I want to say good by my friend!
Rockin´ in a free world !
posted on #19
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Ian may have left this earth but he leaves behind beautiful music for us always to enjoy, music that will live on. Peace my dear friend
posted on #20
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You have brought up a very good subject, Dick and I commend you for tackling such a hard question. Personally, I would like all my music to stay on the loops, as I think most people would like that legacy for others to hear, play along with, or add too. When we leave this earth the only thing that will last is the memories we have created for others.. whether good or bad.

I agree with mpointon and OlivBee that the use of a symbol of some sort should not be religious in nature but something that reflects the musical interest that brought us all to the loops in the first place. Even something as simple as musical instruments with wings would work.

Now for the tough part. Not all family members deal with death very well and they seem to not want to let go of the persons memory.. case in point.. my aunt passed away 5 years ago and her daughters still maintain her Facebook account, they will even post from it from time to time.

So, when we are brainstorming this problem, this situation will have to be looked at also... family members merely trying to keep the person digitally alive. Or, to the other extent... not wanting to deal with it at all, in which case you still would not know about the passing since they would not contact you.

I don't think there is an easy answer to this problem, but I agree we should continue to brainstorm it and come up with a way for those who will, to contact the loops and let us know of the passing.
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