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Discount for You, Readers

The readers of this blog get a discount for purchasing tickets at TEDxWhiteCity

It's a 10 % discount (if you manage to still catch an "Early Bird" ticket, this discount is in addition). 

Type in the code TEDxDigitalDust where it says "Enter Promo Code": 

If you have any questions or problems, please contact (and not me) and give this code as a reference. 

See you on January 25th! 


January 25th 2017

I'm excited to let you know I'll be speaking at TEDxWhiteCity on January 25th 2017, at The Israeli Opera - Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. 
It's an entire day (10:00 - 17:00), filled with ideas, stories and performances. 
The theme this time is: "Destination: Unknown". 
Tickets are available at:


2016: Summary

In December 2014 I published a summary of 2014
In December 2015 I published a summary of 2015
As it's December 2016, I'm about to publish a summary of 2016

Well, actually, I'm not. 

As you noticed from the few blog posts, few Facebook page posts and few lectures I gave during 2016: 
I had to take time off for personal reasons, and it ended up being pretty much full on from January till now: My father is ill and my family and I went through (yet another) not simple nor easy year. 
I took a long break from the blog and from the Digital Death realms. I'm coming back - not sure yet for how long - due to an event which shall take place at the end of January 2017. 
I'll let you know what it is soon, here in the blog, in the Facebook page of the blog, and in the Twitter account of the blog. 

Stay tuned. 


A New Project Launched in the UK Today: Digital Remains

On May 20th 2014, Mórna O Connor, an Irish colleague and a friend, sent me an intriguing proposition: to take part in developing an RLO - a Reusable Learning Object - dedicated to Digital Remains. 

Thanks to Morna's hard work the RLO is now online. It launched today, March 2nd 2016, which marks five years since my brother, Tal Shavit, was killed, and is dedicated to his memory.

Q:  What is this? 

"The resource is a Reusable Learning Object (RLO) that’s freely available online. It is a short interactive resource about what can be left digitally after death, how this can impact on the bereaved and what we, as members of the public and providers of health services, can do to better deal with this issue".
Q: How did it come into being? 

"The resource evolved from consultations with bereavement care staff about the role of technology in modern bereavement and grief. These care workers were uncertain about what can be left digitally after a death, why this differs from physical remains, how it impacts the bereaved, and what we can do about this issue. So, we invited these bereavement care professionals to participate, along with you, death studies academics from The Sue Ryder Centre and technology developers from HELM to create a resource that gives an introduction to these ideas and raises awareness about the modern experience of bereavement and grief.  We think it will be helpful for anyone who works with bereaved people and those at the end of life, and of course for members of the public. We all need to become more aware of the range and implications of what we leave behind digitally after death. We hope this RLO will be a step toward doing this". 

Mórna O Connor researches death, dying and bereavement and the role of technology in health. She has just begun a PhD exploring the digital-age experience of bereavement.She is part of both The Sue Ryder Care Centre for the Study of Supportive, Palliative and End of Life Care and Health E-Learning Media (HELM) research groups at the School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. And she is also the narrator of the RLO! 

I have to say I envy her for having partners in the UK to collaborate with on such a project - just as I envy James Norris for having partners in the UK to collaborate with on his project (Digital Legacy Association: websiteFacebook page).  I wish and hope I shall find partners for such collaborations in Israel too. 

I know that in both cases, even with their partners, neither of these two projects would have come into being without their leadership, vision, hard work and dedication, and I am very grateful I got to play a part, however small, in them both.

Please feel free to share the RLO with friends, family members and professionals working in counseling, end of life support, palliative care etc. 

Thank you Morna for the terrific work you've done and doing, for helping to not only raise awareness to these important issues but for creating actual tools to be used in this regard, and for pulling through through all the technological obstacles you faced while accomplishing this. 


Be Kind: Backup

Someone you care about is grieving? You wish to be helpful and don't know how? I have an idea for you: tell them to backup. 

Backup? What do you mean "backup"? Do you think now is the right time to mention such a thing to the bereaved? 

Yes, I do: backing up videos, photos, texts and memories related to the deceased could be a very big - and very practical, meaningful and helpful - act of kindness. And not a moment too soon, too. 

The following stories are all in Hebrew and from Israel, but I believe the story is a universal one (and would appreciate receiving relevant links and print screens in other languages): 

2016. Anat Dolev passes away. Her son begs for help retrieving her stolen smartphone with the last pictures of her on it. 

 Facebook printscreen

Facebook printscreen

2015. Idan Shacham begs for help retrieving the stolen smartphone of Hodaya Goren. On it were pictures and memories of their recently deceased mutual friend Bar Shavit, who died a few months earlier.  

Facebook printscreen
(Link no longer available)

2014. Myriam Safrai begs for help retrieving her stolen smartphone. It contained un-backed up pictures of Muli, her five years old son, who passed away three weeks earlier. 

Facebook printscreen

2013. Roni Lahav - Vidra begs for help retrieving her stolen ipad. It contained un-backed up videos of her late husband, Yuval Vidra, with their baby boy Idan.

Facebook printscreen

2013. Tzach Cohen begs for help retrieving the stolen smartphone of his sister, Noy. It was stolen shortly after her death. 

Facebook printscreen

2005. Haim Avraham begs for help retrieving his stolen computer. On it were un-backed up memories and pictures of his dead son, Benny.

ynet printcsreen

This is why telling grieving people to backup could be such an act of kindness. Because pictures, videos, texts and memories might be lost irretrievably, if they are only on a single device which might get stolen or broken - smartphone, tablet, laptop, computer. Do it gently, but do it: suggest that they back up as much as possible to cloud storing and/or a portable, external hard drive. If you really wanna be helpful bring all the necessary cables along and find out for them how could it be done with their specific device/s and/or operating system/s. Don't expect them to think about it themselves - they are grieving. This is what you, as someone who cares about them and wishes to assist and support them during this difficult time, could be there for. 

When a tragedy occurs there is so much pain we can't do anything about and we can't ease. Let's at least ease up where we can and make sure the materials memories are made of are well kept. 

This is also why I say therapists, psychologists, social workers and other professionals and volunteers who support bereaved people should be trained in digital matters as well: to make sure there is someone there to tell grieving people to backup, and now


Thank You

The end of the year is a wonderful opportunity to say THANK YOU - or in my case: Thank Yous. 
A previous version of "Thank You" from an earlier stage of the blog can be found here

This list consists of people who have helped me (in regards to the blog) during the past year. It includes people from Israel, UK, USA, Germany, Finland and Denmark, who helped by emails, phone, Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp and face-to-face, and are readers of the blog, family members, friends, strangers and strangers who became friends. 

It does not include the people who tag me when they come across something relevant or send me links they know I'll be interested in, as (luckily for me), they are too numerous to mention in name. 

It does include the people who once / several times / on a regular basis help me, in a generous, dedicated manner, in many various ways: from advise, proof reading, language checking, editing, video editing, translating from English to Hebrew, translating from Hebrew to English, translating from Danish to Hebrew, making phone calls in Danish, rewriting, searching for data, searching for data in French, giving feedback, inviting to give paid for talks, lectures and lessons, introducing me to relevant people, graphic design, makeup, recommendations, lending equipment, filming video, analising statistic results, legal advice - to helping with the code of the blog and recording an audio track in a studio. 

Thank you to those who help when I ask and to those who help before I even get the chance to ask. 

Thank you to those who help right now, because this is when I need it: this instance

Thank you to those who initiate a cooperation with me, to those who say "yes" when I invite them to cooperate with me, to those who attend the meetings I initiate and to those who help me, or at least try to help me, make the changes I wanna make. 

Thank you to those who make me laugh when they not only assist me free of charge, they also apologize for not doing it sooner / quicker :) . 

Thank you to those who even on those rare occasion in which I do try to pay them for they work, refuse to charge me for their professional assistance. 

Thank you to those who support me in times of crises or meltdowns, thank you to those who support, encourage, appreciate, to those who help "spread the word" of what I'm doing / saying, the blog and the Facebook page of it. 

This isn't something I take for granted, I'm very grateful, thankful and appreciative, and to put it simply and honestly - I couldn't do what I do without them (In first name alphabetical order, simply cause I needed to sort this out somehow): 

Amir Cahane, Amir Shemesh, Anat Gelb-Price, Anu Harju, Asaf Abir, Aviad Dayan, Carmel Vaisman, Daniel Alfon, Daniel Landau‏, Dor Nachman, Dvorit Shargal, Elad Raz, Eleanor Kantor, Frankie Simon, Gali Halpern Wienerman, Galit Rubinstein, Gili Meisler, Hagai GinzboorgHila Tsairi, Ido Kenan, Ilan Shadai, Inbal Lottem, Inbal Saggiv-Nakdimon‏, Jakob Sabra, James Norris‏, Jonathan J. Klinger, Joseph Catran, Katrin Döveling, Keren Elazari, Korina Giaxoglou, Lior Zalmanson, Ma'ayan Alexander, Matan Melamed, Meirav Darzi Meiri, MeyTal Greiver-Schwartz, Michael Diamond, Mórna O Connor, Motti Shimoni, Moran Leshem Bar, Nimrod Benzoor, Nir Yaniv, Oded Yaron, Omer Levy, Or Meidan, Paul Solomon‏, Rachel (Berman) Madar, Rinat Korbet, Ronit Lavy‏, Selina Ellis Gray, Shimon Peretz, Shiri Yeshua, Shmuel Loutaty, Stacey Pitsillides, Tal Bitton, Tal GuttmanTzach Ben-Yehuda,‏ Uri Gonda, Yael Gaaton, Yossi Glazer.

A special thank you goes to my parents, Maya and Eli Shavit. Without their significant support - including a substantial financial one - I could not have devoted myself to what I do the way I have these past few years. 

I even thank the handful of people tho refuse to meet me, who don't appreciate me or what I do (for lack of a degree or for not being part of the academia, for example), who refuse to help me - because by doing so they only make all those who do support, assist, encourage and appreciate stand out even more. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to say something personal 

I disagree with phrases such as "Everything happens for a reason" or "There is good in everything". No: some things happen for no reason what so ever, like a driver who acts recklessly on the road and kills my brother, and there isn't, there hasn't been, there won't be and there could never be anything good in or about my brother's death. 
There are some good things that happen or can happen despite him being dead. Not following his death, not in consequence of his death - despite his death. And the people who help me along the way are one of those good things. 

The last Thank You in this list goes to Tal: a unique, vibrant, unusual and unforgettable character, who touches/d and affects/ed so many lives during his life - and after his death, that hardly a talk of mine goes by without eyes in the audience "light up" as I mention him, or people nodding their heads when I talk about him, or someone doesn't come over afterwards to tell me about that time they met him / spoke to him / read what he wrote. And hardly a meeting goes by without there turning out to be a direct or indirect link to him. People help me in my own right, true, but many help me in his right. 

Tal in a picture taken by Colin Ritchie

As you know, I didn't plan any of this. It just came into being. And I now have a job (and yes, it's a full time job and no, I don't make a living out of it yet and yes, you can help) which causes me to cry a lot, both because of the content I come across and because of my personal pain, and it's a job that makes me wonder from time to time if I'm crazy for doing it, and it's a job that makes me edgy whenever I see I was tagged somewhere in Facebook because I don't know if I was tagged in an adorable cats video or because someone had died. It's an odd thing to go through, whenever you see yourself tagged, wondering if someone had died. And I have a job which allows for many options to present themselves in Facebook when I look for either "Death" or "Digital": 

This job also fascinates me, it sometimes makes me go to sleep in the small hours of the night because an update arrived and I feel I have to write a post about it right now, a job that makes me check my email curiously in the morning because who knows what interesting updates arrived while I was asleep, a job that makes me feel I'm doing something important and significant and that I'm helping people through what I do - and it's dedicated to Tal. And along with my wishes to create a change on a bigger scale, when someone tells me that thanks to me the digital aspects of their lives are now in order and taken care of, I'm moved, because I know that if something were to happen to him/her, even just for his/her family, it's all worth it . 

Thank you. 

So What's New in Digital Death?

The end of 2015 is a great excuse to look back and see what's new in Death. Digital Death. 
Here is my summary of 2014


  • The internet (mainly Reddit and Facebook) successfully recognizes "Grateful Doe", an anonymous body between 1995 and December, as Jason Callahan

  • made a lot of noise when it first launched in January 2014 and has been silent since. In November she is heard from again: here is the post I wrote about it. 
  • After a long struggle by Holli Gazzrd's family, which involved the media, after she was murdered in 2014, in November Facebook finally removes from her memorialised profile pictures of her together with her killer, from back when they were a couple. Here is the post I wrote about it.  
  • A new international design competition launches in November: Future Cemetery Design Competition
  • A new non-profit association presents itself in the UK in November: Digital Legacy Association. It offers a Digital Death framework aimed at both people who take care of sick or elderly family members and professionals offering palliative care. A wonderful cooperation with UK hospices. 

  • Another attempt at virtual immortality presents itself in October: Humai. Warning: when you enter the site music begins to play. Annoying. 
  • Eight years old Lake Bozman dies of Leukemia in May. In October, his parents, Anna Bozman and Travis Thompson, decide to get married. The photographer adds Lake into the wedding picture
  • One of the most well known sites for digital legacy management, Death Switch, shuts down in October. 
  • Yahoo presents a new mail app in October which skips the password stage, and I wonder if this is going to make posthumous access easier or more difficult. 
  • Facebook continues to cause people pain, although unintentionally, through On this day memories who leap up at you. She tries to resolve this in October, by giving users more control over the presented memories. Unsurprisingly it's not a good enough solution: you can't opt out of the thing all together.   
  • In October, LastPass and LogMeIn merge. I hope this will bear fruit in the form of a legacy heir, like the one PasswordBox has (previously known as Legacy Locker). 

Lake is part of the family pic

  • In September Facebook announces it's working on an empathy button: NOT a dislike button: an empathy button. Hopefully this will make comments and reactions to online grief easier. 
  • In September France offers it citizens an opportunity to vote online regarding a new legislation which includes a Digital Death bit: English website, French website, my post about this. Here is the relevant Digital Death part of it. 
  • Unfortunately, in September the ULC bowes down to the pressure applied to it by paid lobbyists of the big companies, and changes the bill it presented last year: here is the (very agitated and frustrated) post I wrote about it
  • Taurean Summers, a paramedic, was transporting a patient to a hospital when the plane he was on crashed in 2014. His wife, Stephanie Summers, was five months pregnant with their firstborn. In September the photographer adds Taurean to the pictures of Stephanie and their son
Taurean is part of the family pic 

  • The second Death Online Research Symposium takes place in London, UK in August. Here is my summary of the first day and second day
  • Buzzfeed publishes in August a Digital Death video they created. 
  • Another attempt at virtual immortality presents itself in August: ETER9.
  • The trial of the murderer David Michael Kalac was set to August. In 2014 he uploaded to 4chan pictures and graphic details of the body and the killing, after murdering 30 years old Amber Lynn Coplin. 
  • In the 23rd Def Con which takes place in Las Vegas in August, the Australian Chris Rock explains how to virtually and digitally kill people: link, link.   

  • In July Google update their answer regarding Digital Death: here is my post about it (I admit: it might have been earlier and I only noticed it in July). 
  • A mini symposium titled "Ghosts in the Machine" takes place in Denmark in June. 
  • Dashlane, the password manager app, publishes a press release in June regarding emergency password access. 
  • In June it turns out you can place virtual flowers on virtual graves of TV shows that were discontinued and/or of TV characters that were killed in the line of duty, courtesy of TV Graveyard. Updates were posted in August and October, to include more characters / TV shows. 

Lane is part of the family pic 

  • Facebook causes people pain, although unintentionally, through On this day memories which leap up at you. In March Sean Forbes shares his painful experience. 
  • Sir Terry Pratchett dies on March 12th 2015. The same month a petition goes online, asking Death to reinstate him. I wonder in which form or format it shall be presented if it reaches it's 35,000 signatures goal

Did I forget to include something? Please do let me know! Send me an email - address is at the header - or send me a message through the Facebook page of the blog. 

Things to look forward to in 2016: