Cemeteries, ghostly apparitions, and dark foggy nights: are these all things that send tingles up your spine? Today, people are looking to graveyards and cemetery plots as a means to store information for future generations. It appears that a new technology that is making heads turn revolves around making it possible for you and your descendants to more accurately remember a deceased loved one. I know for me it is so easy, immediately after the loss of a dear one, to remember details about their lives. However, as time passes, these memories become less distinct and are harder to recall.
However, future generations may benefit from a new technology that will allow the departed loved ones to record their memories in order to share them with those who come after them. These recordings will be stored at the tomb site and will only be able to be unlocked by an authorized user via a code. Anyone so authorized will be able to use a smartphone or other proper code to unlock memories from the person’s past, as well as anecdotes about that person.
I would have loved to have seen this technology in working order when my wife and I took a trip to St. Joseph, Missouri.
The main purpose of the trip had been to celebrate my birthday by visiting the home of Jesse James, one the old west’s most notorious robbers and highwaymen. While there, I learned that the house we visited was only lived in by Mr. James for three months. However, it was significant for the fact that it was also the house where he was gunned down and died.
The visit was memorable not so much for seeing this very small home but for the other interesting places located in this area. St. Joseph was also the home of the original Pony Express and hosted a various assortment of museums, old homes, and other tourist sites. Out of all of them, we found an old cemetery especially interesting. Finding it was probably the hardest part of the adventure as it was located on the outskirts of the town. Once we found it, however, we decided to take a driving tour of its interior. As we drove, we realized that some of the graves were dug shortly after the Revolutionary War. In fact, we stumbled upon the grave of someone who had died in the year 1780. As I contemplated this fact, I couldn’t help but wonder what this person may have seen and experienced during his lifetime. I think it would have been so interesting to hear what he could tell us about the Revolution.
Well, today a company has the capacity to give us the opportunity to learn about those who precede us in death. In fact, in addition to providing speech, the family will be able to select a video to show at the gravesite. These videos can be more than biographies of a person’s life. In fact, the information can include anything a family wishes to include, or exclude, that will explain a person’s life here on earth. This technology has been developed by a bereavement company called Aspetos. Unfortunately, to see it in action, one must make plans to travel to Austria where the first gravestones will be launched. These gravestones will include the quick response (QR) codes. QR codes are similar to the codes currently seen in a variety of today’s advertisements. They are what are used to unlock an assortment of information for the user. They were first used in Japan in the early part of the ’90s to track car parts.
What I so appreciate about the use of QR codes is that it means that everyone, not just the rich and famous, can leave a legacy of their life to share with future generations. However, the thought of using QR codes on a headstone has been met with some skepticism. Some believe that, even if it has been authorized by a family member, it could be an invasion of the dead person’s right to privacy.
To accomplish this monumental task, Aspestos is already working with headstone masons who would sandblast the QR codes on gravestones to determine how much the process will cost. In addition, they also have to consider what the cost will be to maintain data on a website. Another issue the company is currently considering is how it could make such data available to the future generations of those who choose to be buried at sea or in an isolated part of the country. One thought by the company is to develop a communal mourning center where all codes could be accessed.
When learning of this new technology, my first thoughts revolved around how long the data could be stored.Will a family who fails to pay a monthly or yearly maintenance fee suddenly lose access to the data? In 100 years or so, will anyone really care about who this person was, what their biography was, or what they thought and felt?
I am not trying to be callous or uncaring in my saying these things, but I’m just being a realist. South of San Francisco lies the town of Colma, California which, as my late dad would say, “was home to more dead people than alive.” Colma is home to many different types of cemeteries, including Cypress Lawn. Inside of this particular cemetery I can recall, as a child, seeing a huge monument. Under the monument was the mass grave of thousands of old-time San Franciscans who had been relocated from a cemetery near downtown San Francisco. They had been carelessly moved from their place of eternal peace to be dumped as a pile of bones under this one monument. In fact, some claim that as many as 35,000 relocations were made, but that number may not be entirely accurate.
My point is this. In my personal opinion, funeral services, burials, and talking headstones are for the living. The deceased couldn’t care less. I seriously doubt that anyone will care about great, great granddad 100 years from now, nor will they be willing to pay to have his website maintained.
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by The deep end of the ocean