Thursday, September 23, 2010

Get Out Your Phones and Hold Hands in a Circle for the Augmented Reality Seance



Glen Toothman hopes to revolutionize your experience of mourning for the dead with his product, the Memory Medallion. He has begun selling attractive metallic buttons to be attached to grave markers, which house barcodes. When the barcode is scanned by a smartphone the visitor will gain access to a website with photographs, biography, a 1000 word story and a short video put together by family.

If his plan catches on in the deathcare business, the etched dash between birth and death dates will be replaced by snapshots of vacations and family reunions reanimated to the gentle beat of The Beatles' "In My Life".

This brings too much life into cemeteries. There is comfort and harsh truth within the lifelessness of tombstones. It's a place where we can remember someone who once was, but more importantly, it is a sanctuary for the process of letting go and accepting their absence.

If the memory medallion catches on, our cemeteries will be haunted by digital ghosts. Limited and unambiguous summaries of the person's character will be comprised of a dozen photos and a video montage. Our deceased loved ones will become immutable music videos and nothing more. Happy and hollow tributes void of nuance will disturb the silent tranquility of lawn, granite, and shedding magnolia and will possess our phones like demons wearing the false faces of our departed loved ones.

Tombstones should not be subject to outdated technology.

Tombstones should not project candy-coated obituaries.

Tombstones should be the fossilized remains of a memory of a memory.



(Note to my next of kin: That, being said, let's hack the shit out of that technology. Anyone walking by my grave should feel their phone vibrating in their pocket as they receive a beyond-the-grave collect call from an artificial intelligence replica of my voice complete with all my most unpleasant personality traits and opinions.)



((Real note to my next of kin: just kidding. You know I want to be cremated and blasted into space like James Doohan.))

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