Who will inherit your digital assets?

digital assets

digital assetsAs a rule, I prefer to be as prepared as possible for the future. I’m a scheduler, an organizer, a planner—and if there are unknown variables, I tend to make a Plan B and a Plan C to fit those optional outcomes. Some people think this is a little anal or OCD, but I think it’s simply efficient. I can’t get everything done that I want to do if I don’t organize it ahead of time!

So it makes sense that I have already put thought into planning my funeral and distributing whatever worldly wealth I may have accumulated by the time I leave this life. I’m not doing this to be controlling; I’m doing it to be helpful. I know you’ll be all-but-paralyzed with grief at my passing, so it seems considerate of me to put some plans together ahead of time. That’s just the kind of person I am. I give, and give, and give. You’re welcome.

The digital beyond

But here’s where I’m stuck:

What plans should I make for my digital assets when I’m no longer here to manage them?

Think about it. Think about how much of my life (and probably yours) happens digitally—through multiple email addresses, a LinkedIn profile, a LinkedIn business page, my own Facebook profile, the LifeLines Facebook page, and all the various Facebook pages I am an administrator of. That’s a lot of digital real estate! And some of it is “mine,” while some of it I simply steward for other businesses or nonprofits.

Not to mention the LifeLines blog and website! What should happen to all this incredibly profound and practical content? Should it simply disappear whenever my hosting term expires? Should I name someone my Digital Executor? Would anyone want to inherit that kind of responsibility? And would the people who follow me now want to follow someone who is simply administering my digital estate?

I don’t know.

The digital divide

In the material world, it’s normal for your family members to inherit your assets. But digital assets have different complications. I’m pretty sure no one in my family would consider it an honor to be named my digital heir. (They are annoyed enough with their own email and Facebook pages!)

There are a few people outside of my family who are on the other side of the digital divide. They have the technical chops to manage digital properties—but the reason I know they have the chops is that they already have their own digital properties! So it seems unlikely that inheriting mine would benefit them in any way.

Digital doubts

So I’m turning to you, LifeLines readers, for input. Have you made any plans for your online remains after you’re gone? Or is this a non-issue, and I’m being too OCD about it?

Who will inherit your digital assets?

Follow-up post: Digital Obituary Options


Net Neutrality
(it’s a democratic ideal)

Net Neutrality and Democracy

Democracy and Net NeutralityDo I believe that everyone has a right to blazing-fast internet service? Not exactly. I don’t think I would put “internet” in the same category as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As dependent as many of us are on the internet, I think I have to stop short of calling it a basic human necessity.

But what the issue of Net Neutrality brings to the fore is this:

We can’t have a healthy democracy if our government of the people, by the people, and for the people is influenced more by wealth than by equality.

Net Neutrality and Democracy are intertwined.

Last week’s video was helpful, but somehow this one by the New York Times got me thinking beyond the economic fears. This makes me feel like our very democracy is at stake:

To me, the beauty of living in a democratic society is that the strong help the weak—and in doing so we all become stronger. The rich help the poor—and in doing so we all are blessed in more than material ways. Everyone contributes something, and the resulting culture is one where science and art and music and commerce thrive—because we’re not fighting wars, or setting up regulations, or looking for loopholes. We’re free to do work that really matters.


What do you think? Is this too much to ask? Am I too idealistic about democracy?


Net Neutrality
(it’s worth fighting for)

Net Neutrality

Here in America, it’s easy to take internet freedom for granted. Since the earliest days of the World Wide Web, access to information has been democratic—everyone has equal right to post information online, and everyone has equal right to find and receive information.

But that may change.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering new regulations that may benefit large corporations at the expense of small, ordinary people. This little video explains the situation well:

Fighting for Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is important to me because I depend on the internet to share ideas, gather information, receive encouragement, learn new skills, and serve other people. Many of the companies and nonprofits I work for are small. Many of the people who hire me have limited resources. Our ideas and services and values are just as worthy as those of Comcast, or Google, or Mark Zuckerburg, but if we have to pay more to share them, we will never be able to compete. Net Neutrality gives us a chance to be heard.

If you want to fight for Net Neutrality, here are a few things you can do:

Net Neutrality1. Sign the petition

Clicking the link above will take you to a page where you’ll have to create a whitehouse.gov account. After you do that and verify your email address, signing the petition is as easy as clicking a button. Once you click, your initials will be added to the roster.

2. Contact the FCC

The link above opens to the FCC’s Electronic Filing System. It’s not completely clear from the page, but I believe this online form will attach your comment to a proceeding about Net Neutrality that has already been filed. The maker of the video recommends that in the comment field, you tell the FCC to reclassify broadband internet as a Title II common carrier telecomunications service. (If you’d like to understand this strategy, look for Tim Wu’s article in The New Yorker; he’s the guy who coined the term “net neutrality.”)

3. Contact Chairman Tom Wheeler

I used the form at the link above to send this message to the FCC Chair: “Chairman Wheeler, I understand how tempting it must be to regulate the internet in a way that benefits large corporations at the expense of ordinary people like me. So I am asking you to do what’s right for a democratic society and ensure equal access to information. I have signed a petition to defend net neutrality, and I hope my little voice will not be drowned out by the wealth and power that want more control of the internet.”

If you prefer to call Mr. Wheeler, here’s his phone number: 202-418-1000.

Making a difference

I confess, I am somewhat cynical about our elected officials’ interest in serving the people who elected them, but there are glimmers of hope. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that together you and I stopped SOPA.

Let’s see what we can do in the fight for Net Neutrality.


Changing your domain name: about 301 redirects

Simple 301 Redirects

301 redirectsLast week’s post shared some issues I ran into when I suddenly changed my domain name from lifelinespublishing.NET to lifelinespublishing.COM. This was item #1:

1. Not everything will redirect.

Yes, if you type in lifelinespublishing.net, you will automatically arrive at lifelinespublishing.com. But if you have bookmarked lifelinespublishing.net/business-writing —a page within my site—that won’t automatically redirect to lifelinespublishing.com/business-writing. You have to set up 301s for those. (Google will walk you through that, but it takes some time. And I’m still not sure I did it right!)

About 301 redirects

I need to clarify this. I had thought that if you set up your new domain correctly with your website host, and if you notified Google correctly, these redirects could happen somewhat automatically. This, however, is not the case. The only way to automatically redirect people to interior pages and posts in your site is to set up a 301 redirect for each page. And Google does not walk you through this. (This is the kind of information I wanted to know before I embarked on this process, but what’s done is done. We’re making the most of it.) I ended up installing a plugin called Simple 301 Redirects. This plugin gives you a simple interface where you can copy and paste the URL your page used to be at, and the new URL it’s at now. It is very simple to use, but if you have hundreds of posts and pages on your site, it takes a while to copy and paste every single URL. It will take me a long time to set up all my 301s, so I used my site stats to prioritize them. I am starting with my most-visited posts and pages, and working my way down as I have time. If you have bookmarked a particular LifeLines post, let me know so I can prioritize that 301, too. That way, when you click on your bookmark, you’ll still arrive on the right page.