Death from a UX Standpoint
When I die, delete my browser history.
As it stands, the large majority of the internet — and services that operated based on it — run under some contradictory principles. On one hand, everything you use is rather fragile —domains expire all the time, and we live in a world full of budding start-ups that could be bought or fail at any time. On the other, these companies operate as though they — and their users — are immortal.
This is pretty understandable. The largest demographic of the internet are younger people (ages 15–34), and these businesses have to clearly rely on their users being alive to gain activity and make money.
But as we enter the fourth decade of the internet’s lifespan, we have to seriously start looking into the long-term sustainability of our content and how others will be able to access it — if at all.
It’s almost impossible for us to actually know what will happen to our data a decade from now — much less a century or a millennium. No matter how many redundant back-ups we might have, our hard drives will inevitably fail or will become incompatible and obsolete. (Although there is speculation of a vast improvement.)
Cloud-driven data is even less immune to the battle of time. Sure, I can use Google Drive, iCloud or Dropbox and any would be far more secure and durable than a lot of newer companies, but all that data will still be essentially lost if I don’t take the uncomfortable burden of telling my family or friends my passwords.
And that‘s most troubling problem, here. Very few companies enable any sort of ‘legacy mode’ for their users. Facebook does, but only out of essentiality. Penzu does as well, but only in their older version.
We’ve reached the point in time where we need a digital shoebox of memories as much as we need a real one. We need a way to be able to pass down our photos and videos effortlessly from generation to generation. To build time capsules that are permanent and can be accessed at any time.
On the other side of the coin, will it be possible for our secrets to be securely wiped? Could our wearables detect when our pulse stops, implementing a protocol to actually delete files wirelessly?
It is impossible to do anything except speculate about what the future might bring. The entire paradigm of the internet is changing more abruptly than ever with advances in artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Can we create continual, passive algorithm that are able to keep our documents in spite of our disruptive advances? I can’t say for sure.