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Sometimes I Wish That It Would Rain Here

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

unintentional shrines

I came across an interesting article in the LA Times this morning. when a MySpace user passes away, what happens to their MySpace? turns out, their friends end up making their MySpace into a shrine of sorts for the deceased. it's partly a memoir, partly a letter to the departed. this is really interesting in light of Genevieve Bell's recent ubicomp paper on techno-spiritual practices. in it, she talks, among other things, about how some Chinese families were creating online shrines to honor their dead ancestors and relatives, to some extent taking the place of traditional shrines and allowing those physically disparate to participate in remembering their family members.

I think that the MySpace shrines are particularly interesting in light of Genevieve's paper. the shrining aspect is really just a fall out of the permanance of MySpace pages, not something that was explicitly designed into the application. should MySpace do something to allow a user to be declared dead? how would you go about doing so? should MySpace account explicitly not be deleted after a period of inactivity so as to support this practice? or, should MySpace just continue on, effectively ignoring this emergent practice that their site supports?

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