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Social Software for the Dead

Don Park's Daily Habit

I mentioned before that a 'center' of a social network doesn't have to coordinate or even be aware of the synergy he or she creates. Come to think of it, the center doesn't even have to be alive. For example, people who met each other at a funeral forms a social network around a dead person.

What should happen when a member of Orkut or LinkedIn dies? It's bound to happen or have happened already. Should his node disappear? That doesn't make sense. Two people having a friend in common is relevant even if the friend happens to be dead. But if the node is left within the network, what are the downsides other than having to add a gravestone icon to the profile?

By afternoon, I concluded that any thoughts on social software should include the dead because we are not truly dead until all of our friends are dead.

Make new friends if you want to live a little longer...

Interesting article. I'd been thinking about it for some time before it occured to me that the oldest Social Networks in the world are largely based around dead people: Family Trees.

Europe was for a long time dominated by the legacy of Queen Victoria; by 1914 she was long dead, but the Royal families of Germany, Austria, Russia, Belgium, Greece etc were all linked to this most connected of monarchs.

I suspect that JFK is the centre of a socio-political network in the United States. I've seen his name linked to John Kerry more than once.

We are all influenced by our elders, whether by family, friendship or profession. And then they die. But their influence on the network remains.

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