Death Glitch: How Techno-Solutionism Fails Us in This Life and Beyond

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Death Glitch: How Techno-Solutionism Fails Us in This Life and Beyond
An accessible yet erudite deep dive into how platforms are remaking experiences of death

"A compelling collection of case studies about how technology breaks down when faced with the messiness of mortality."--Gabriel Nicholas, Washington Post

Since the internet's earliest days, people have died and mourned online. In quiet corners of past iterations of the web, the dead linger. But attempts at preserving the data of the dead are often ill-fated, for websites and devices decay and die, just as people do. Death disrupts technologists' plans for platforms. It reveals how digital production is always collaborative, undermining the entrepreneurial platform economy and highlighting the flaws of techno-solutionism.

Big Tech has authority not only over people's lives but over their experiences of death as well. Ordinary users and workers, though, advocate for changes to tech companies' policies around death. Drawing on internet histories along with interviews with founders of digital afterlife startups, caretakers of illness blogs, and transhumanist tinkerers, the technology scholar Tamara Kneese takes readers on a vibrant tour of the ways that platforms and people work together to care for digital remains. What happens when commercial platforms encounter the messiness of mortality?

Publication Date: 
August 15, 2023