A Digital Estate?

A Digital Estate?
Photo by Federica Galli / Unsplash

The declaration of a digital estate should be an important event in the experience of a modern user.

Most of the world sees no point deciding that all the digital history - various bit patterns one has created over many years - forms a corpus, an estate, a digital estate, however far advanced they think themselves.

Crypto Wallets and NFTs are a start, but the key realization in all of this is that a digital artifact is the first new form of property in over 500 years. Yeah, ponder that for a split moment.

Until the dawning of this "smartphone age", where people's lives are anchored largely by the information accessible by them thru their smartphones, the forms of property had pretty much stayed the same thru most of recorded history.

But in the last 50 years a new form of property has emerged, more virtual, more ephemeral than anything that has come before.

The res digital is at the heart of the digital estate. Each of the various arrays of bits, the writings, images, videos, documents, projects, code, and all the other creations form the individual artifacts of a digital estate.

And people, when they declare the existence of such a digital estate, they come to realization that their output in bits over the years are ephemeral, and like the curation of a lifetime of paper (such as most humans dealt with up to about 1984), a serious effort needs to be made to delineate and define the bounds of one's digital products, the extent of one's digital estate.

So insufficient are our efforts that very few of us have access to the digital bits of the stuff we did on our NeXT machines, Sun workstations, Windows95 boxes and our old cherished Mac SEs.

But, as we move forward, new ideas can be expressed and the idea of your bits lasting longer than any given computer or operating system becomes something we can embrace. But we need a way to curate them, edit them, to maintain and manage them, and these tools need to last for decades.

The law, which surprisingly understands many of these ideas, has already thought through many of the issues we will face. But what remains is the simple linkage of the digital estate with the notion of a digital estate access control trust. More on that as we progress.