Digital Afterlife: Till Death Do Us Part?

Has anyone else noticed a bit of a morbid fascination across the World Wide Web recently? It seems that modern life has become so saturated with the digital experience that we’re now trying to extend it into the afterlife.

Life Goes On for Tupac

3D holographic projection company Musion Systems Ltd brought Tupac Shakur back to life for a performance at this year’s Coachella festival. A hologram of the rapper performed alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg to thousands of music fans in Indio, California. Dre and Snoop were able to interact with the deceased Tupac as if he were there in the flesh. But the performance has divided opinion. In a post after the appearance MTV’s senior writer James Montgomery voiced his concerns. 

“Tupac died in 1996 and Coachella didn’t start until 1999, which means that someone basically had to record that dialogue for him, which is kind of troubling… It’s basically putting words in the deceased’s mouth.”

Nevertheless, the criticism hasn’t deterred the Musion team. Head of music Sanj Surati said he would like work on more holograms in the future. 

“Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, oh and Michael Jackson would be the ultimate one. Maybe even Whitney Houston.” 

There are also talks of former TLC member Lisa Left-Eye Lopes getting the virtual treatment as the band prepare to mark 20 years since they formed.

Who wants to live forever?

But the digital afterlife isn’t just reserved for the rich and famous. A new service, which was launched at this month’s The Next Web Conference, allows users to send messages from beyond the grave. DeadSocial is a social network that gets to work after your death. Users create a private calendar of posts, which will only be shared to their social networks when they die. The idea is that you can say your last goodbyes and continue to communicate with loved ones once you’re gone.

Rest In Peace

I have to admit, when I first read about DeadSocial I presumed it was some sort of late April Fool’s or a statement about our current obsession with our lives online (I’m still half expecting someone to shout ‘gotcha!’). As for the holograms, I have to agree with Mr. Montgomery. It doesn’t sit comfortably with me. As much as I am a champion for the digital age in this life, I don’t think I’ll be carrying on the role after it.  

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5 Things to love about Facebook Timeline for Pages

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Last week saw some big changes to Facebook Pages. The social network officially launched the “Timeline” format for Pages, making the old format of left hand column and main wall redundant, on 30th March. The Timeline layout has been around for a while, Page owners were given the opportunity to try it out from the end of February, but from last week all Pages were moved to the new format. So what better time to launch the brand spanking new Facebook home of Digital Polish? While building the new page, I had a nosey around and made a list of my favourite new features…

Cover Image

The first thing most will notice about the new layout for Pages is the cover image. The cover takes on the roll of the page header. Page owners can upload a custom image, which sits across the top of the page. What I like about this feature is the way it creates an instantly noticeable visual identity without the cluttering of the old Facebook landing pages. 

No more “Like” gates

In the old layout it seemed every brand and business out there were creating “Like” gates as a way of ‘buying’ our fandom. I’m not condemning the practice, we all did it, but I’m glad it’s gone. With the simple cover image there isn’t any place for gates. Even if we wanted to develop a snazzy app that would create a gate for us, Facebook would be having none of it. Facebook’s T&C states that cover images must not make “references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from cover photo to any of these features.” The banning of mandatory Likes is a good thing for brands and businesses. Now, we can measure genuine engagement rather than these forced ‘fan-ships’.

Milestones

Milestones are a great way to tell people about a business or brand. They can be used to show historical events, such as the founding date, or dates of significance like a big job, relocation, or new team member. Milestones are a way of telling a brand or business’ story in a simple and transparent way. 

Highlight and Pin It

There’s nothing worse than creating a great post only for it to be swept up in the flow and lost in the social feed. That’s where Facebook’s “Highlight” and “Pin It” features come in. If there’s something a Page owner wants to stand out in their timeline they can choose to Highlight or Pin It. Highlighting will expand the post across the two columns of the timeline, similar to Milestones. By selecting to Pin a post it will pin the post to the top of the timeline. While the post is pinned all other posts, regardless of date and time, will go under it in the timeline. 

Transparency in the Timeline

My favourite thing about the new Facebook Page format is how it creates greater transparency. There are no gates preventing users from seeing content, and the content that is posted has to be engaging. The now easily searchable timeline means heavy branding is more obvious to users. Brands and businesses need to create interesting Pages and content for their fans, followers, whatever you would like to call them, or risk losing them. 

Facebook has faced a lot of criticism for changes it’s made over the years, sometimes over privacy and sometimes for making changes for change’s sake. But, for me anyway, it seems to have hit the nail on the head with the updated Page format. 

For updates from Digital Polish, along with other interesting nuggets, find us on Facebook: facebook.com/DigitalPolish

 

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Social Media for Beginners: Cheat Sheet!

In celebration of Social Media Week I thought I’d share this cheat sheet by Column Five Media.

 

by Flowtown.  

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I [HEART] Infographics

via

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Mum’s the word: Mumsnet VS The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail should know better than to incur the ire of Mumsnet.

Yes, politicians, journalists and anyone who wants to sleep well at night should know better than to incur the ire of Mumsnet. The online community of parents seem able to put more fear into some of the country’s most powerful people than the Murdochs. They are not a force to be messed with.

Lord Heseltine warned of the dangers of “tinkering with maternity arrangements when mumsnet gets going in an election campaign” while just this week The Daily Mail published an article about the woes associated with upsetting the highly vocal community. The article in reference was that about a (second) uproar after Kenneth Clarke made comments about rape on Radio 4’s ‘Women’s Hour’. However it seems the Daily Mail should listen to its own advice as earlier this month one of its journalists was set on by angry and amused mumsneters. Poor Kathryn Knight didn’t know what she was letting herself in for when she posted this onto one of the Mumsnet media threads.

Spot the not-so-deliberate mistake? According to Kathryn, or KatieFreelance as she prefers to be known on the Mumsnet discussion forums, poor Dominique Strauss-Khan is considering divorcing her philandering husband. In came the not-so-helpful but perfectly understandable feedback from the mumsneters.

And…

And then came this…

And then finally, just to rub salt into the wound…

“PMSL at the Daily Fail’s ‘research’ – also watch it KatieFreelance – papers are being threatened with legal action for suggesting that DSK and his wife are about to divorce!”

Now it’s not like me to sympathise in any way with the Daily Mail – my thoughts on that newspaper would fill a whole blog – but part of me does feel sorry for poor Katie Freelance. Being a freelance journalist I know the pressure journos are under to give 100% on a number of tasks all at the same time. I once spent a whole radio interview referring to John McEnroe as John McEnroy through a combination of work experience nerves and genuinely finding it a hard name to pronounce. But to put a “shout out” to Mumsnet without fully researching a story about a figure as big as the former head of the IMF, well, sorry Katie Freelance but at least we all learn from our mistakes… hopefully!

Oh don’t forget for every misdemeanour on a community forum there is at least one person who will leak it to Twitter.

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Dear Me at 16

Advice is a form of nostalgia; dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal

This year I turned 26. That’s not all. I’ve started a business. Worked in Paris. Attended my first hen do (I’ll be attending the wedding in December). And this month for the first time I was asked to give career advice to a GCSE student. A teenage girl. Don’t get me wrong, it was no Mary Schmich column, but it got me thinking – well that and an article about a new book release by Joseph Galliano – what would I say to me at 16?

Dear Me at 16

You’ve just completed your GCSEs. You didn’t do as well as you’d hoped but you’ll later realise that academic credits aren’t the be all and end all. And, as seems to become habit, you’ll land on your feet. 

You’ll be pleased to know that you’re one of the few lucky ones who’ve always known what they wanted to do and stuck to it. That’s not to say you’ve got there by 26 years old but know that you are heading in the right direction. 

The friends you have and make will make you smile, laugh and cry. You’ll worry that you’ve lost touch. Fortunately thanks to some American guy just a couple of years older than you (yes, you’ll resent this fact) who invents a thing called ‘Facebook’ you’ll be able catch up with old friends – just remember to make the effort offline too. 

You’re guarded. Don’t be. Yes people will let you down but that’s part of life. You will let someone down at one point or another even if you don’t mean to. Remember for every one person that hurts you there will be two to help pick up the pieces. 

The bottom line is. You’re doing ok. In the next 10 years you’ll make mistakes, you’ll drink far too much, as always you’ll constantly worry if you’re doing ‘the right thing’ , but you will be fine. 

Oh and yes, you are still a vegetarian and you still listen to Snow Patrol religiously. And the ‘Sunscreen’ lyrics printed in the back of your 6th form yearbook? They still apply.

Finally in the words of the late Steve Jobs who will become a bit of a hero to you: “Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.”

– Love, Me x

 
 
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Misty and Me

A dog accepts you as boss. A cat wants to see your resume.

As a journalist there are a number of ‘big’ stories I could be writing about today.

  1. The Tunisia election
  2. The EU referendum
  3. The release of Steve Jobs’ biography

But I’m actually going to write about something a lot closer to me. My cat Misty, or Mr Mistoffelees to give him his full title.

Ode to Misty

Misty, as any Andrew Lloyd Webber fan would imagine, is a long haired black and white cat. He has a beautiful white bib and white socks. I got Misty from the cat shelter a few doors down from my parents’ house when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My other cat “Fluffy”, a short haired male, had died after being hit by a car a couple of weeks earlier. Misty settled in quite nicely and took his position as boss of the house. As boss he adopted my dad, the man of the house, as his. He would follow my dad everywhere. To the kitchen, to the loo, to the garage (resulting in a few unplanned overnight stays) and even braving the side of the bath.

As he got older and, as cats do, soppier he started following us all round and would plonk himself on any spare lap. When I was 18 I moved away to university and have been living away from home ever since. But Misty never held it against me and would welcome me back with a purr and brush up against my leg every time I came home. He wasn’t quite so tolerant of his other four legged friends. Over the years he has had to suffer two bouncy golden retrievers and three more feline additions to the family. But he got on with them all albeit begrudgingly.

So Misty has been with me from when I was still working things out as an 8 (or 9) year old to now when I’m still working things out as a 26 year old. Sadly today was Misty’s last day. A kidney problem that he has been bravely battling over the past few years finally got the better of him. He made his final trip to the vets this afternoon. He now rests peacefully in my parents’ garage waiting for me to come home and say goodbye for the last time.

If you’re not a cat owner or a “cat person” this will all seem a little odd. However if you are one of the former you will most likely know why I found the need to write a blog post about dear Misty’s passing.

Cats on the Web

Cats are everywhere. We welcome these little creatures into our lives and before we know it they are an integral part of our family lives. But it’s not just an offline obsession. Cats are all over the internet. Typing the word “cat” into YouTube brings up “about 1,000,000 results”. In May this year Omar Kattan published a Top 10 of viral cat videos on YouTube. The list was inspired by the below video where a “cat mom” hugs the “baby kitten” which at the time of Omar’s posting had 10.1 million views in two days. At the time of writing this post it has had 35,835,969 views.

Animator Simon Tofield took his love of cats and developed it into a business. Simon’s Cat’s first online appearance was in ‘Cat Man Do’. The 1.38 min video shows the lengths a hungry cat will go to get its breakfast.

A series of videos followed all giving an entertaining portrayal of the relationship between the cat and its owner. But Simon didn’t stop at videos. The success of the Simon’s Cat videos lead to book releases, games, T-shirts and an online community of cat lovers.

…because a cat’s the only cat who knows where it’s at!

People love cats. I’ve had 8 cats throughout my life. Each one has been a character with its own personality and ways. They become members of the family to the point that I can’t imagine my home without them and when they do pass there is a mourning as would follow with any other member of the family.

So dear Misty, you lived a good long life and you will be missed. Rest in peace little man.

And finally…

I love my cats, but hopefully I’ll never be this bad!

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