Fall 2015

MWF, 11:30-12:20

What does it mean to die?  What does it mean to die in the digital age?  What is the relationship between death and data?  If the things we make and put online outlast us, can we really “die” in the 21st century?  What kind of data did people in the past leave behind?


This class explores the idea of digital death, through critical approaches to the possibilities of true “digital death” in the computer age and the production of digital archives that “resurrect” the stories of people who are long dead.   By the end of the course, students will learn to create and curate online databases, to consider the preservation (and annihilation) of digital data, and understand the meaning of death in the digital age.



Upon completing DIG215, students will be able to:

  • Understand the changing relationships between death and data preservation
  • Create/preserve/hack data by building databases
  • Analyze different methods for preserving lives online, and methods for deleting digital footprints
  • Experiment with the production of digital archives
  • Explore the meaning of death in the internet age
  • Evaluate competing claims about the ethical collection and use of social data
  • Gain an introductory technical knowledge of many digital tools or methods that can be useful to scholars (such as dynamic mapping, social network analysis, topic modeling, and HTML publishing) and an in-depth knowledge of one or two.


  • How has information about the dead been preserved and curated over time?
  • How has the “digital turn” shaped how we memorialize and commemorate the dead?
  • What does it mean to die in the digital age?  How is this different from how people have died in the past?