I've been thinking about what would happen to my online stuff, when I eventually kick off (hopefully not for several decades, but still...). This whole Reclaim stuff would mean that my online artifacts would disappear rather abruptly. That's partially mitigated through things like the newly-minted Hippie Hosting Co-op, but what happens to my various account info? How would I hand that off, and send a message after, well, you know...
That's where the idea of the internet deadman's switch comes in. A bit of code that monitors for signs of life from me, and after I stop doing stuff it assumes I've kicked off, waits a predetermined period of time, tries to nudge me by email, and then sends off an email to my family.
It's the kind of thing that probably used to be done through a hopefully-updated piece of paper filed with a will or stored in a safety deposit box. But it feels like it's something that could be done rather trivially with some code.
Alan posted something along these lines this morning:
Plan for the worstifidie.org can send messages if you die.It even has cute doodles (sharks! aliens! holes!)
— Alan Levine (@cogdog) February 27, 2012
and that's not a unique service - there's also Dead Man's Switch and likely a few others. But I'd rather not put that kind of info on someone else's server - who knows if their server will still be running in a year, or 5, or 20. And who knows how many people would have access to the information on their server in the meantime.
That's where the Next of Kin WordPress plugin comes in. It uses my blog as the deadman's switch. If I haven't done something on my blog in 3 weeks, it'll send me an email to ask if I'm still around. It'll wait a week, then send another, as well as one to a family member. After another week, it'll assume that something rather dire has happened, and will send an email that I will have prepared in advance. Rather tidy. No fuss. All self contained here.
Of course, this assumes that I'll still be using WordPress sometime in the future, and hosting my own blog. Safe assumptions for the near future, but who knows what happens if the plugin becomes abandonware and WordPress moves on without it. Or I move away from WordPress. Or this whole internet thing turns out to be just a fad after all...