Death & Dying in the Digital Age Call for Papers

Digital Death Example

The example of celebrities dying a “digital death” to raise money for AIDS (shown above) is just one phenomena that may show how society perceives life — and death —  in the digital age. Additionally, 2010 saw several international conferences on the subject of digital death, organized and attended by researchers in human-computer interaction (HCI) and design, with several articles published in HCI journals. The University of Bath’s Centre for Death & Society (CDAS) has extensive contacts in death studies, palliative & bereavement care, and the funeral industry, and is in a unique position to promote engagement between HCI/design research and death studies.

The 2011 CDAS summer conference will examine how new interactive digital technologies affect the social relationships of those who are dying, mourners and descendants. Twenty-minute papers are invited from researchers in HCI, design, the social sciences and humanities; software developers and entrepreneurs; and the caring, funeral and memorial professions. Abstracts (up to 250 words) to be emailed to cdas [AT] bath [DOT] ac [DOT] uk by 14 March 2011. Topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • Dying: Do digital communications change the experience of dying? Dying people and/or their carers can communicate bad news or regular updates to their friends by e-mail, Facebook etc: does this differ from letters, telephone calls, etc? Do dying people’s blogs make the experience of dying less private than their earlier print equivalents? Do such technologies erode the so-called taboo of death?
  • Mourning: How do social networking sites (SNSs) change the experience of mourning? What is the online experience of communicating with the dead? Of talking with other mourners about the dead? Do SNSs re-insert mourners into community, if so how? Do they change the 20c experience of grief as private? How are they evolving?
  • Digital inheritance: How are protocols developing for the following, and what evidence is there of practice so far? Digital wills; SNS policies re deceased members; digital archiving; digital archaeology; the mortality/immortality of digital data

The conference will be held in the centre of the world heritage city of Bath, in the amenable surroundings of the Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institute (car park nearby, Bath Spa station 10-minute walk, Bristol Airport 1 hour). The cost, £45 for a single day, £80 for the weekend, includes lunch and refreshments. There will be opportunities to socialize over a drink (Friday evening) or meal (Saturday evening). There is plentiful accommodation nearby, which delegates need to arrange for themselves.

Centre for Death and Society
University of Bath
Conference 2011
Death & Dying in the Digital Age

25 & 26 June 2011
Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institute, Bath

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