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NYT Article on the Digital Afterlife, featuring Mac Tonnies

January 5, 2011

An preview of an article entitled “Cyberspace When You’re Dead”, due to be printed this coming Sunday, has been released online today.  This beautiful and extensive article was written by Rob Walker and features Mac’s story as well as comments from his family and friends.

Find the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/magazine/09Immortality-t.html?ref=magazine

This is a very thoughtful piece on death and the new issues we have to come to terms with in light of the ubiquity of digital media.  As I read it, I couldn’t help but reflect on the year that has passed and how special the people are that I have met because of it, through here and Twitter.  The article notes how Mac is lucky to have friends to keep his digital memory alive, but really, *we* are the lucky ones; it took a series of very random events for us to have Mac’s collective digital afterlife and the community that supports it!

This article also gave me a new appreciation for the experience as its been for Bob and Dana Tonnies, Mac’s parents.  I always kind of wondered how they felt about the whole online community thing, especially seeing as they only really experienced it after Mac’s passing.  In part, I felt they welcomed us, mostly because of their many contributions from Mac’s early childhood to Macbots.  But what I had not considered was how frustrating it must have been to not have control over what was said about their son, from the very earliest and hardest days after his death.  In that sense, the internet truly is a double-edged sword.  I am so happy and grateful that Bob and Dana decided to press through and embrace those who rallied to support Mac’s memory because their contribution here has meant a lot to all of us!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2011 6:59 pm

    Amazing – any word on how this article came to be?

    • January 5, 2011 7:47 pm

      When I spoke to the author, Rob Walker, he said he was researching the idea of the digital afterlife and found out about Mac’s online legacy through a social media expert from Canada (I don’t know this person’s name). He perused Posthuman Blues, read the comments to Mac’s last post and was compelled to investigate the community further. Somehow he found his way to Macbots and that’s how I got involved!

      • Shepherd Johnson permalink
        January 5, 2011 8:30 pm

        That’s a great article, Sarah. Nice tribute to Mac. Look for the hit count for the macbot site to shoot through the roof from now through Sunday.

  2. January 6, 2011 12:38 am

    Sarah, thanks so much for posting this. I’m still processing the article and will write a response in the next couple of days. I agree with you about Bob and Dana Tonnies. I think of them often and particularly on Sunday when they would have seen Mac. You are one of the magnificent people I’ve met through Mac, and for that, and many other ghost-in-the-machine events since Mac’s death, I’m grateful. xo

  3. January 6, 2011 12:38 am

    Fantastic – thank you for sharing this Sarah!

  4. March 21, 2011 6:26 pm

    Very cool…!

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