[Air-L] Introducing myself

Mariana Matos marianasantiagodematos at gmail.com
Wed Jul 8 06:33:45 PDT 2009

Hi Anna,

Your study must be very interesting, and I'm looking forward to its translation! It would be nice to read your conclusions.

I agree that the sense of personality seems to be something that counts. I see two different things. One is the act of making hommages or tributes to the dead. This has always happened through History. Internet opens a new possibility for it to happen. As we used to light candles in places that represented the deceased person, we can light virtual candles on the Internet. 

I think that this is completely different from talking directly to the dead. It's not made to honour the deceased and it's also not a way of telling other people how good that person was. On Orkut, or in other SNS, the profile was made those who died after. It's completely personal. The profile looks like the person. What I see are not messages that simpy regret the death. Family and friends tell the dead about their deepest feelings, share memories, tell about  how their lives are going.

After having said that, I ask: do the phenomena you've been witnessing look like what I've described secondly, i.e., people who write direct messages to the dead?

Finally, in Brazil we have also these memorial websites, but they're surely not as popular as the habit of writing to the dead through Orkut.

Best regards,

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Anna Haverinen 
  To: Nishant Shah 
  Cc: Mariana Matos ; air-l at listserv.aoir.org 
  Sent: Saturday, July 04, 2009 1:40 PM
  Subject: Re: [Air-L] Introducing myself

  Hi Mariana and everybody,

  I'm a recently graduated student of anthropology from Finland and I have witnessed the same phenomena here too. It seems to be a natural response for the people left behind since a blog or a webpage or a profile seems to have this sense of personality, e.g. the personality of the deceased. In the same way people leave candles and memorial artefacts to locations where a person had died or used to live. People seem to think that we leave a hint of ourselves in places, also in virtual space. This phenomena includes official memorial websites and virtual graveyards (which I'm studying currently for my doctorate thesis) that have been flourishing since 1995. I did my master's thesis about virtual memorial sites, their public/private aspects and conceptualizing virtual space experience. Death rituals (mourning, bereavement and honoring the deceased) are changing with Internet and social networking, and they seem to give a new way of coping with loss and sorrow.

  Unfortunately my work is still in progress and my master's thesis is still only in Finnish (will get it translated soon), but hopefully this remark has been helpful to you.

  Anna Haverinen

  2009/7/3 Nishant Shah <itsnishant at gmail.com>

    Hi Mariana,
    Thanks for the introduction to your work. It sounds quite fascinating and
    indeed has seen some parallels in India. Especially with a couple of
    high-profile cases which found a lot of publicity in the mainstream media,
    and were dubbed facetiously as 'Orkut Deaths', we saw a similar phenomenon
    in India. In both the cases, the two young people who died, left active
    profiles which were at the centre of a great public debate and resulted in
    thousands upon thousands of people coming to see, to comment and to leave
    testimonials and messages of grief, condolence, and anger at the tragic turn
    of events. I had written a small Op-ed for a national daily that gives some
    of this information which you can research further (
    http://www.hindu.com/mag/2007/09/02/stories/2007090250010100.htm ). I also
    have a chapter in my PhD thesis that deals with these two cases and gives
    more details about the same. Please let me know if you would like to have a
    look at them and I will email it to you in person.

    One of the more important thing about these live profiles of people who had
    passed away, was also the appearance of clones. There were suddenly many
    people who were creating 'false' accounts, appropriating the persona of the
    dead, and also receiving a lot of comments and scraps.I found this
    particularly interesting because these accounts were accurate in the
    information about the dead persons and also appropriated their pictures,
    creating elaborate false networks and photo albums to create a certain
    notion of authenticity.

    Hope this information is helpful to you,


    On Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 8:50 PM, Mariana Matos <
    marianasantiagodematos at gmail.com> wrote:

    > Hello there!
    > I've been on the list for almost 2 months, but, until now, I've just read
    > what people were writing. And I must say there are many interesting topics
    > being discussed! However, I'd like to introduce myself and share with you
    > all information about my research subject.
    > I'm a psychologist from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a PhD student at PUC-Rio
    > (the Catholic University). I'm part of a group of researchers who have been
    > studying the psychological and social impacts of the use of technology such
    > as the Internet, cell phones, games, and some others. The group is leaded by
    > Professor Ana Maria Nicolaci-da-Costa, who's been researching on this
    > subject since the very beggining of the use of Internet in Brazil.
    > My research in on the habit of writing scraps, on Orkut (the most popular
    > social network site in Brazil), to people who died and left their profiles
    > active. As you should know, if someone dies, the profile may still be
    > active, what happens if no one deletes it or asks the site to delete it.
    > I've been observing that a substantial number of dead people's profile
    > receive a great amount of messages, writen often by close friends and
    > family. In these messages, they "talk" about their feelings, tell the dead
    > about their quotidian (i.e. what they did in the weekend), talk about their
    > memories etc.
    > I have the impression that this is a brazilian phenomenon, and I'd like to
    > ask you if you see something similar in your countries, even if people use
    > other SNS, like Facebook or any other. Do you know people who died and let
    > their profiles? Do you know if they still receive messages, even if more
    > than one year have passed since the death?
    > Best regards,
    > Mariana Matos-Silva
    > PhD Student
    > PUC-Rio
    > Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    > _______________________________________________
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    Nishant Shah
    Doctoral Candidate, CSCS, Bangalore.
    Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society,( www.cis-india.org )
    Asia Awards Fellow, 2008-09
    # 00-86-21-66130376

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