DJ-Locker Project

Question: if my life ended right now, how would my web contacts know? By the mere fact that I don't answer their emails? Or that my websites would no longer be updated and suddenly disappear? Not necessarily so. A sever/computer crash or the sudden halt of a provider could lead to similar results... for some length of time, at least.

I've asked myself these questions, in particular, when I was diagnosed a chronic form of leukaemia a few years ago. During the several sessions of chemo-therapy, an idea started crawling in my mind: how about creating a software 'locker', where I could deposit unlimited messages I would like to send to my friends, relatives or business contacts?

Searching on the web, I came across a few US/UK based commercial sites that offer this kind of service. They are called 'Digital Legacy' services, and a UK based one (but usable from any country) is "Cyrrus Legacy". They offer a free (limited) service, a yearly one, and a 'lifetime' one.

Once you're a registered user (yearly or permanent), you may deposit in their "digital vault" any sort of document, passwords & other sensitive info that you may want to pass on following your UPA ('Unavoidable Permanent Absence', let me call it!). Essential, as in the case of a traditional Will, is to appoint a person you trust to contact the company. Only after rigorous verification, they will open the 'vault' and provide the 'executor(s)' access to all the information you have deposited.

Question: What can you deposit in the "digital vault"?

Here is a (non exhaustive) list of items I would deposit myself - I'm sure you will think of many more:

  • Username & password to access my 16 email accounts - so that my executor may adequately set up an auto-responder for all incoming emails, or answer important ones 'on my behalf'.
  • Username & password to access my Facebook, Twitter, etc.... accounts - so that my executor may adequately place a notice or close the accounts.
  • Username & password to access and manage my 6 web sites - Providers may not allow access to a person (even legally entitled) unless he holds those parameters. This is quite a tricky terrain, as the contract is most likely to terminate upon the death of the legal owner. Of course, he who has the parameters can 'pretend' to be you at least for a while, in order to get things sorted out (i.e.: continuation of the site, etc...)
  • Username & password to access and manage my eBay, Paypal, eBid, etc.. accounts - Would not like the pennies I have there to go astray!
  • Username & password to access and manage any other web service I am registered with.
  • Pin numbers of my two cell phones;
  • Pin numbers of my credit cards (somehow disguised for better security) - especially useful for rechargeable cards.
  • Secret combinations to safes or lockers.
  • A list of email addresses of contacts I consider essential to be warned of my 'departure', with messages containing my instructions (in one specific case: John Knowles ought to be warned and furnished with important info on the site that, otherwise, might become unavailable).
  • Documents, memories and messages I would like my friends/relatives to have.


All the info is in a single place for your executor to find, i.e: not scattered around in drawers, pinned to a board, hidden in your bed-side chest, etc., etc.... Providing you are accurate in listing and clearly describing your instructions (and update them as needed!) you will make life much easier to those concerned.


The encription methods and the security enforced by the "Digital Legacy" services are more than adequate, but there is no absolute certainty on their 'lifetime' service, should the company go suddenly out of business... But this would only be disastrous if it should exactly coincide with your UPA.

Other essential (and quite obvious, but I shall mention them just the same) things to consider: Appoint an executor you fully trust, and with sufficient computer knowledge to handle all the above. Consider appointing more than one executor, assigning each a different task, which you will detail in your documents. On appointing your executors, make sure they understand what you expect from them, and that they are willing to do what you ask from them. Choose them younger than you - although this is no guarantee....but at least it increases probabilities!

If what I've exposed above has convinced you to avail yourself of 'Digital Legacy' services, just go ahead - I have no commercial interest in any of them, so choose the one that fits you better.

If, on the contrary, you think that all that is reaching a bit too far... ok! I've though of a much simpler and still effective method.

Aim of the service: To provide an alternative way to contact you, or a person of your choice, should your email address stop to work for any reason.

My offer:

You provide me with one or more alternative email address: of a friend, relative (or whoever you like), who may be contacted in case emails to you are undeliverable for four consecutive times within one month (one attempt each week). Your friend or relative will then (and only then) be discretely contacted to have news of you, or to ask if a message can be passed to you. The typical scenario would be: you've moved to live somewhere else, changed email account and forgot to inform us, but you don't want to cease contacts. It might surprise you how many visitors email the WM site with one email (perhaps the one used at work?), then change their job (and email address), but continue occasionally visiting the WM site, without realising that they have become 'unknown' to us. Eventually, some of them send in an email (using the different/new email address), and ask, surprised, "why have you stopped sending me news?"

I would like to make clear that:

  • a) the contact you give shall not be spammed, nor disclosed to others;
  • b) He/she will only be contacted once, as described above, and any instructions - if any - you have given will be scrupulously followed(*)
  • c) Unless some visitor (or the site editors) unsuccessfully tries to contact you through the email address posted on the WM site, this procedure will not be applied.
  • d) this service is totally free and offered 'as is', with no obligation for the Walthamstow Memories site owner or editors.
  • e) you may, at any moment, ask to be removed from this service: your contact's information will be permanently deleted.

(*) These may include: "It is my choice to be unavailable"!

I would suggest that you choose for your alternative contact someone who has a permanent email address, possibly on a different server from yours and that this person is in regular touch with you. If you agree to all this and find it is a good idea, just email me now!

P.S.: I'm happy to say that the last tests I had show that the therapy was very successful: it's still there, but very much under control! TG

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