Connecting Generations: Preserving Memories with Thanatosensitive Technologies

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Hand-written letters have morphed over the past two decades from the physical realm of ink on paper to digital text displayed on a digital screen, making emails the most common digital format for letters. Old shoeboxes were used as storage spaces for hand-written letters and photographs, bound together with ribbons or rubber bands. The shoebox would then be tucked away somewhere in the house, only to see the light of day years later after a vigorous bout of house cleaning, on a special occasion or after one’s death. Since email archives are not the physical artifact of a shoebox of letters and photographs, it is much more difficult to bequeath them to an heir after death. Our proposal is the development of an application named Shoebox that will connect family and friends through the bequeathing of Gmail archives, Picasa photos and YouTube videos.