There are many items that I have considered handing down to the various progeny that clustered around the Christmas table looking like a group of baby sparrows waiting to be fed, but digital content and assets never once entered my head. I am not alone in this as regardless of the fact that consumers in the UK spend around £50 billion a year on digital goods and services, few of us ever consider devolving our digital legacy or online content.
There is an enormous amount of often sentimental material in the form of digital photographs, online chat between friends and relatives, Facebook pages, favourite songs and media programmes, all bought and paid for that, once we are gone, cannot be accessed by our nearest and dearest. This week a plea for people to think about preserving and handing down their digital assets was raised by one of the UK’s largest firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers. The cyber security partner Richard Horne is urging us to consider our digital mutterings and downloads as part of our estate in the same way that we view our homes, their contents and valuables.
Consumer’s digital assets in the UK valued at around £2.5 billion
In a way it does make a lot of sense because as consumers we have paid out a lot of money for these digital images and footage, and Mr Horne estimates the whole sum of the UK consumer digital assets to be valued at around 2.5 billion. Most of these assets are held on a number of different devices such as laptops, iPhones and the like. However, it does beg the question, how do you decide which to hand down and which should really be happily consigned to the internet ether? Do you include Instagram’s for example? Perhaps only if they showed a pictorial record of how your parents came to meet, or spreadsheets covering the household monthly budget? These may be considered important by historians or genealogists in the next one hundred years or so, but inane ramblings on Twitter may be best left alone.
Digital memories should be bequeathed to the next generation
This begs the question often asked, what would you grab from your burning house once the nearest and dearest were safe and sound outside? Photo albums were often near the top of the answers but nowadays your Smartphone or mobile device probably does house a lot of your precious memories. Not having bought such an item, then I would have to grab the wedding album, the bear I was given at my christening and my personalised message and autograph from Alan Titchmarsh. It probably makes sense then to get all my photos onto a mobile device because carrying that lot down a burning staircase lowers my chances of getting a fireman’s lift. Hopefully, I will never have to make that choice but it has got me thinking about what to do with the digital content I have amassed, paid for and created. Instead of gathering for a reading of the will, families in the future could very well be sent a URL link to a last Will and Testament download.It certainly does give pause for thought but, in the meantime, let’s concentrate on enjoying what we have now and look forward to a Happy and Healthy New Year.