“Post-mortem Social Networks”: Talk at Berkeley Institute of Design on 5/5 @ 3PM

Post-mortem Social Networks: Unearthing new sites of death and grief

Berkeley Institute of Design ( http://bid.berkeley.edu/directions/ )
May 5th, 2011, 3PM

Abstract: After we die, our online accounts live on. By one estimate, over 408,000 US Facebook users will die in 2011 alone. This leaves friends and families with both the opportunity and struggle of incorporating these identities into their practices of grief and mourning. The presence of post-mortem profiles raises important questions: How are practices of online memorialization connected to conventional rituals of grief and mourning? What is the role of the profile post-mortem? How do trajectories of death and dying incorporate both online and offline concerns? I present findings from two studies that detail the emerging phenomena of post-mortem profiles and of ongoing experiences with the deceased via social network sites (what I call “post-mortem social networking”). These new practices highlight spatial, temporal, and social expansions enabled by social network site infrastructure, and let us consider their impact on online behavior more broadly.

Bio: Jed Brubaker is a PhD student in Informatics at UC Irvine researching digital identity, social media, representation, and the often invisible distinction between us and our data. Recently this has included studies of death on social network sites, queer geosocial applications, the relationship between infrastructure and self-presentation, and “single-use” identities on craigslist Missed Connections. This work draws from CSCW, HCI, psychology, science and technology studies, and critical theory. At UC Irvine, Jed is part of the Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction (LUCI) and the STAR Group. He previously earned his M.A. at Georgetown University in Communication, Culture and Technology, and his B.S. at the University of Utah in Psychology. Jed is jed.brubaker at uci.edu, www.jedbrubaker.com, and @whatknows