Top 10 Ways to be Remembered in a Digital Age

Exciting news from the Future Cemetery Project, from designing for the dead to Soylent Green

We thought we'd share an update from our Future Cemetery team. Their project was part of Heritage Sandbox, REACT's first R&D cohort, which developed new platforms for haunting back in 2012. The team brought together Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust, Calling the Shots, and the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath to provide the space for high quality research, innovation and creative exploration into the social, cultural and technological aspects of end of life, death and remembrance. Essentially, they want to remind all of us that death is the future

In November 2015 the Future Cemetery held its first international design competition Future Dead: Designing Disposal for both Dead Bodies and Digital Data. The disposal of human remains extends beyond the purely corporeal to increasingly digital and virtual remnants of a human life. This has startling implications both for us as individuals and families and, increasingly, for the business of dying. The competition asked people to imagine a world where both human remains and a person’s digital footprint must be considered at the end of life. The winning team will be announced shortly and will then work at Arnos Vale Cemetery and at the Pervasive Media Studio during a summer residency.

This residency builds on a growing interest in death and dying across Bristol and beyond. The current exhibition Death: The Human Experience at Bristol Museum presents a fascinating and thought provoking, historic and contemporary look at how cultures ritualise, observe and deal with death.

This Sunday Lisa Graves who curated the exhibition will join John Troyer of the Future Cemetery in conversation at Watershed - following a screening of Richard Fleischer’s eerily prescient 60s sci-fi classic Soylent Green. During the 1970s, films about disasters and dystopian futures flooded cinemas and television screens. Soylent Green (1973), went all out in merging science fiction, ecological catastrophe, class conflict, and global food shortages. What's less remembered about Soylent Green is the film's take on future death and dying, via 1970's Right-to-Die Movements. As John points out, 'it's easy (too easy, really) to say that "Soylent Green is people" all the while ignoring the larger political debate represented in the film's depiction of New York City in 2022. How people die in the 'future' is the most overlooked aspect of the film.' If you are interested in hearing more, you can book tickets here

Meanwhile, if you are worried that this all sounds a little gloomy, don't be... nobody make makes death more fun that Dr John Troyer. To highlight this point, we thought that we would leave you with his irreverent Top 10 Ways to be Remembered in a Digital Age:

1. Do something really infamous that causes people to freak out and start hashtagging your name because unless you’re a hashtag and/or a meme today, you’re dead to the digital age.

2. Try stalking Mark Zuckerberg and his ropey dog. But not for real. Only for fake. Don’t ‘Like’ this idea.

3. Go back in time (which does also require inventing time-travel) and buy all the bitcoins while no one is looking, then cash them in and go further back in time and acquire Google from what’s-his-name and what’s-his-name in their college dorm room.

4. And, actually, inventing time-travel is another way to be remembered. That seems pretty sure-fire since you could also then invent the Digital Age.

5. Invest heavily in granite gravestones. Then you’ll become known as the person who had the foresight to realize that igneous rocks last way longer than the internet’s tubes after a person dies. You’d probably get your own Wikipedia page. And maybe even your own emoji.

6.  Answer the ultimate question to life, the universe, and everything.

7. Inspire the digital masses with cut and paste platitudes and avoid making too many online inside jokes that only a few people get.

8. 42.

9. If you’re old enough, be thankful no one had digital cameras or camera phones when you went to University. #DavidCameron #Piggate

10. Accept that no digital memories are actually forever on the internet. Just ask Mosaic, Netscape, Friendster, MySpace, Bebo, Geocities, Gopher, and the Well.

John Troyer is the Director of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath. The Top 10 Ways to be Remembered in a Digital Age were originally published in the REACT Newspaper. Feel free to follow the Future Cemetery on Facebook or on Twitter @FutureCemetery