zen.org Communal Weblog

May 15, 2012

Digital Legacy

Filed under: — elana @ 21:10 GMT

There are many types of digital legacies, I’m learning.  There are the ones that people know B for best: Zen and the Art of the Internet, the CuD archivist, EFF supporter, gcc/c++ programmer. But then there’s a few layers under that as well, like his Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and this site and blog.  Those are the more public legacies, the more enduring ones because of sites like Archive.org.

But what of his personal digital legacy? What of his multiple home computers and the information (or lack of) on them?  Password files, financial files, stories and notes, his vast email archives?

What do you do when you are next of kin to a geek?

In the past few months, I’ve had to learn a lot. Some things, like Unix, backing up Android phones, and figuring out why our MythTV box isn’t working were helped by friends. Other things I’ve had to do on my own: digging through B’s email to find answers to questions, figuring out our bank accounts and how to pay his VAT to the Revenue. All the things that he seamlessly did before.

But the things I don’t know are larger: where are our wills? When was the last time he balanced our Quicken account? Where were things left with other accounts?  Who now maintains mailing lists and what do I do about his email account?

Luckily, I knew his 3 most used passwords, and he had given me his password file a few months ago, and kept it updated, so a large part of what could be stress is gone. And everyone has been very kind in explaining things to me in very small words.

So people, let me explain to you all in small words what you should be doing right now:

*Get your password file. Email it to a friend in another city. Ask them to just sit on it, and then every month, send them an updated file if you’ve changed any passwords.  And tell them to do the same to you.

*Tell your loved ones–not just your partner, but a friend or relative–where your will is. You don’t have one? Make one. Scribble something on a piece of paper, have it notarized, and whee  you have a will. Tuck it somewhere safe and make sure someone you actually KNOW has access to it.

*Make sure your accounts for everything are in both your names if you have a partner/spouse.

*Get rid of all that crap in your inbox. Really. Wading through all that stuff is not very fun.

*Have a file, on your desktop, that has all the most important files in it. Your updated Quicken file, info on your assets, your network setup (act like you are explaining it to your mother) and your domain setups. The PIN to your mobile phone.  You can encrypt this file if you like…as long as you let your password file holder friend have the password (and the password to just get INTO your computer.)

I’ll be updating later on what to do with email and social media accounts.  As I figure them all out.

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