Three dimensions regarding digital death have been identified:
First dimension (D1) deals with the death of a living being. The death of a human begs the question: what happens to the mass of digital information left behind? Are there parts of the information space one would like to ‘leave’ to loved ones, for example photos or financial information. In addition, one must question whether there are any parts of the information space that one would want to ‘die’ with them. An equally important aspect of human death is the grieving process and whether the ritual of death is more important, or as important, as the dead body. If this is the case then can virtualization of death rituals assist in the grieving process? One can perhaps get a feeling of this process by wondering into a graveyard in Second Life.
Second dimension (D2) deals with the death of digital information. The death of information itself is also to be considered when your digital information dies before you. For example, the death of a person’s personal computer or hard disk. How does this ‘loss’ of a personal computer or hard disk affect people? This directly relates to how much information was lost and to how important and/or personal the information was. Another form of ‘information death’ is when a system progresses or technology advances and your information is left in a format that cannot be read, for example the move from floppy disk to CD. This information is then lost or ‘dead.’ Note that the preservation of digital material is a current worldwide concern.
Third dimension (D3) deals with immortality of digital information and the need to engineer its death. Digital information can be immortal, because anything you write in the virtual world remains. If it remains in circulation, your ‘bits’ will remain forever. However, this can also cause problems as there are an increasing number of people placing information online, every day and this information remains forever, even after someone has died And we are only at the infancy of the Digital Era! If this trend continues we will soon be buried in graveyards of ‘dead’ personal information.