Social Networking for Dead People: An idea refined

May 5, 2007, 6:38 PM UTC
Fortune

I thought I would share with you a particularly profound thought on one of the subjects that I’ve shared with you recently. As you may recall, or actually read on the blog, come to think of it, I suggested what I believed to be a new concept — a Social Network for Dead People. In so doing, I considered the difference between a dead person and a virtual one. This Zen contemplation comes from Jeannie, a new media technologist and artist who was kind enough to write in. “I enjoyed your intriguing concept of social networking for dead people,” she writes, then goes on:

“I’d like share my two cents on virtual vs. dead people concept. Firstly, let’s get some clarity. virtual people are online entities (a.k.a. avatars) projected by living and breathing human beings – all real people. And some real people have online entities based on dead people. These types of avatars already exist in places like myspace or niche social websites. This is nothing new. So I wonder if you are talking about social networking website for dead people with no real people driving the online entities? That would not be possible since web content always has to be authored and produced by a person. I think a real social networking website for dead people should be by dead people. Why not have a artificially intelligent website aggregate & produce content by dead people, construct self-intelligent online avatars based on this data, then have all these dead avatars communicate with each other on their own. For example, you could use AI, simulation techniques, or generative languages. We real people could simply sit back and enjoy the show of dead people interacting in the 21st century. You never know. We might witness some awesome virtual lover affair between Cleopatra and Socrates…”

Thanks, Jeannie. I enjoy your mind. Although there are certain reasons why Socrates would, perhaps, be less interested in Cleopatra than in other ancient figures of note.