Evan Carroll is a user experience designer, author and speaker from Raleigh, NC. He is co-founder of The Digital Beyond, a blog and think tank devoted to digital afterlife and legacy issues. Evan is the author of the book, Your Digital Afterlife: When Facebook, Flickr and Twitter Are Your Estate, What’s Your Legacy? (New Riders Press, 2011). Evan Carroll has appeared in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR’s Fresh Air, CNN, PBS News Hour, Popular Science, Fox News, CNN and The Atlantic. Evan holds MS and BS degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science.

Passare Expert Series Kickoff | Evan Carroll

Welcome to the Passare Expert Series, a forum where we give our panel of experts an opportunity to speak directly to you. Today we’d like to introduce Passare contributor Evan Carroll, an author, speaker and co-founder of The Digital Beyond, a think tank devoted to preserving digital assets.

Passare: Welcome Evan, we are pleased to have you as a Passare contributing partner. Tell us why preserving your digital afterlife is such a popular and relevant topic today?

Evan: I’m happy to be part of the Series. If you asked a person about their assets 20 years ago, they would mention things you could touch. Then the digital revolution happened. We used to store our digital files on our home computers, but now we share so much of our lives on social media, we don’t know where our digital assets are stored anymore or who owns them after we pass.

Since our digital assets are no longer in our direct control, no one knows how they will be handled after we pass away so it’s important that we take action.

Passare: Why is making a plan for preserving your digital assets so important?

Evan: If we want our digital content to be accessible to our heirs, we have to make a plan. And as humans we tend to want to control our legacies; it’s a small shred of immortality that we can’t achieve on our own.

If you do nothing, you’re essentially saying, “I’m okay with letting whatever might happen, happen.” But chances are good the things you think are important won’t be preserved and the things you find unimportant or maybe even embarrassing might live on.

Passare: What steps can you take to preserve your digital assets?

Evan: The most important thing is to do something. If you feel having a five-minute conversation with your spouse is enough, then you’ve done more than most Americans. But I encourage you to make this decision deliberately and get your digital house in order with these steps:

  • Make a list of your digital assets
  • Decide what you want to happen to them
  • Designate a Digital Executor
  • Let your Digital Executor know about your plan
  • Put it in writing

Some people create amendments to their Wills that pertain to Digital Assets but do not include sensitive information like passwords because Wills become public. Store your sensitive information in a safe place or use one of the various online password protection services.

Passare: With so many American’s unclear about digital asset management, what can help raise awareness?

Evan: There are four drivers that are going to start the national conversation:

  • Personal Experience – This is the number one driver; we tend to learn lessons when we experience them firsthand, so when a person goes through not being able to access the digital content of someone they love, it hits home.
  • Building Awareness – When organizations like Passare, the media and people like myself are talking about it, it helps spread the word.
  • Laws On The Book – As state legislatures create laws around the issue, more people will begin to think about it and more laws will be passed.
  • Service Providers – Google, email services and social media sites now have policies on preserving digital assets, which helps raise awareness and gives people a way to determine what happens to their accounts after they pass.

Passare: What value do you think Passare offers today’s consumer?

Evan: Passare addresses estate planning from all angles and lets people discover topics that they may not have considered before. Passare helps take the guesswork out of End of Life Planning. After a few visits to your site, you are aware of all of the topics you need to address in your Estate Planning process. I think Passare also helps spread awareness about my area of expertise and will positively impact the number of people who have secured their digital assets for the future.

Passare: Can you share you’re a little about yourself and your mission?

Evan: I believe technology has the ability to significantly impact all our lives whether we realize it or not. One of my purposes in life is to help people understand how technology can help them lead better lives. If I can help someone use technology more effectively so they’re remembered the way they want to be, I feel like I’ve done a great thing.

Passare: Thank you Evan. We appreciate your perspective and look forward to further discussions with you about preserving your digital assets.

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Your Digital Afterlife: A book about digital death and legacy

Written by the creators of TheDigitalBeyond.com, this book helps you secure your valuable digital assets for your loved ones and perhaps posterity. Whether you’re the casual email user or the hyper-connected digital dweller, you’ll come away with peace of mind knowing that your digital heirlooms won’t be lost in the shuffle.

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