Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Death and passwords

Maybe it’s just my natural morose demeanour or maybe it’s just an idle curiosity but the combination of death and passwords has been playing on my mind.

I’ve set myself the task of digitising old photos.  You’ll realise that because I’ve been polluting your Facebook feed with numerous albums. (If you think that’s bad you should see Flickr.)

I’m scanning negatives where I have them and scanning photos where I don’t.  I’m storing them on the hard drive, the external drive, on Flickr and some on Facebook.

The main reason for storing on Flickr is as a backup and a legacy.  Hard drives and external hard drives can fail.  Houses can burn down and computers can be fried by a lightening strike.  And, negatives, slides and photo prints deteriorate over time.

I’m trying to make life easy for me and my children.  If photos are scanned and organised online then hopefully there will be some details attached to each image, rather like the biro print on the back of your great aunt’s photos.  Only computer fonts are easier to read than your great aunt’s handwriting when she’s 85 (in the shade) and trying to preserve her youth for the people she’ll leave behind when she dies.

I only know this because I have tried to read elderly aunt’s handwriting written on the reverse of photos of her youth.  It’s a challenge, especially if she’d consumed her daily medicinal brandy prior to attempted remembering and writing.

But it occurred to me that I have a user id and password to access my Flickr account.  I pay an annual membership fee that allows me to upload in bulk and sort into multiple sets.  When this membership lapses my photos aren’t visible until the membership is renewed.

When I die, the membership will lapse and nobody will have access to the account and the photos won’t be visible.  Come to that if I suffer from dementia (very likely) then the same will apply.

What happens to my Flickr account when I die?  Can I bequeath it to my children?  Does Power of Attorney give someone access to things like Flickr accounts and, if so, how?

I know that if I’m dead or suffering from dementia then I won’t care about this, so I’m worrying about it now, just in case.

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