Abstract - The Information Society 29(3)

Introduction to the Special Issue on the Death, Afterlife and Immortality of Bodies and Data

Connor Graham, Martin Gibbs, and Lanfranco Aceti

This special issue poses questions concerning death, afterlife and immortality in the age of the Internet. It extends previous work by examining current and emerging practices of grieving and memorializing supported by new media. It suggests that people’s lives today are extended, prolonged and ultimately transformed through the new circulations, repetitions and re-contextualizations on the Internet and other platforms. It also shows that publics are being formed and connected with in new ways and new practices and rituals are emerging, as the traditional notions of the body are being challenged. We argue that these developments have implications for how people will be discovered and conceived of in the future. We consider possible extensions to the research presented here in terms of people, practices and data. Firstly, some sections of the population, in particular those who are the dying and populations in developing countries and the Global South, have largely been neglected to date. Secondly, practices such as (online) suicide and sacrilegious or profane behaviours remain largely uninvestigated. Thirdly, the discussion of the management of the digital self after death has only begun. We conclude by posing further questions concerning the prospect of emerging cities of the dead.


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