E.G. (elainegrey) wrote,

Considering the eventuality

Meeting has a form for "final affairs" and i started filling it out. When asked for special instructions, i realized i wanted my Elaine Grey community and my other communities to be able to come together at the time of a memorial. I pondered the virtual where of a digital memorial and i realized that a dreamwidth post is what i would prefer.

If i request that, however, how do i address issues of privacy with respect to this journal? This is what i've written up for now.

Have other folks done similar things? Anyone know of good practices that have been established? I don't think i have any protected entries with comments that the author may be concerned about protecting: do you think you've left such comments?

What to do with my journal in case of my death

Dear Christine, [sister], and [sister-in-law],

You are now entrusted with my privacy and identity, both my public information and my private.


I’m asking that my online identity be made public so that my online journal can host my virtual memorial for those who cannot be present at the Meeting memorial. In hosting the memorial, though, my journal becomes more public. I believe that this is acceptable, but you are left with the results of this decision. I outline what I think possible harms could be, note preferences, and provide access to the technical information needed for you to change the privacy settings on my journal. For example, it’s possible that there could be some media hey-day around my death (the Oracle bigwig could have run me over, for example), and restricting access to my journal may be important.


I’ve been keeping an online journal since 2002 with the identity Elaine Grey. Many of these posts are my innocuous day to day reflections. I have certainly journaled when critical, frustrated or angry: the targets of these posts are usually obliquely named. However, anyone who knew my workplace or family would certainly be able to unfold the references.

The very beginning of my LiveJournal posts contain some of the challenges before Christine began transition and during the early parts of her coming out. She may want that obscured. As of this writing, i am making all those entries “Friends Only” so the general web public will have no access, but my digital community will continue to have access. (20141004: Live Journal: Change "Everyone (Public)" posts to "Friends", between 1999-01-01 and 2005-01-01. 1613 matching posts have been found.)

The longer I’ve journaled the more I’ve tried to be responsible in my journaling and not share others’ secrets.

Some aspects of work might be considered my employer’s secrets, and I have generally protected those by using the option that limits display to those people with whom i share connections (“Access list” on Dreamwidth and “Friends Only” on LiveJournal). When the issue was definitely not something that other library people could know i chose to use the custom filters. As of this writing (2014-10-04), I do not believe I have have any entries that may harm work colleagues: the targets of most of my complaints are no longer with the company. I think there are no corporate secrets that would be revealed.

In general, i think my sharing about any Meeting issues has been responsible. I might have some sharp words for one person or another, but i believe that none of the judgements are expressed around information that has been shared with me in trust.

When I consider the wider world, i believe if my online identity “Elaine Grey” were shared with people who know my professional and social identity they may learn things i didn’t want to share widely when i was alive (anger, difficulties, depression, etc). I don’t think any reputations of others will rise or fall nor would any current corporate secrets be revealed.

There remains my family, in particular, my mother. My relationship with her has been much better over the past years, but there are concerns I write about that would distress her that i’d heard about them and that i’d shared them. In general, there are probably many passing references to Mom that would distress her.

I consider the odds of Mom reading the whole record of the years journaled to be slim at this time due to lacking affinity for digital media. Dad might read it all, and i think i would be comfortable with that at this time. My concern is more whether Aunt Judy would be able to read it and responsibly filter in conversations with Mom. I believe MOST of my posts about current concerns about Mom have restricted access.


In making the first three years of my journal friends only, i believe i have addressed any early discretions in “over sharing” that would harm others.

If there are other issues that make ensuring more privacy important, I would ask that you strongly consider restricting only to “friends only” and “Access list.” I believe my online community should have continued access, even if the general public should be restricted.

If there are issues of sensationalism around my death, I trust the management of DreamWidth to respect my data and would ask that the most conservative action be to make my journal private. However, while Live Journal’s management claims to respect privacy, you may wish to shut down the account altogether. All the entries from before I started with Dreamwidth are in my data store, so you can delete that account if it seems appropriate.

If you do restrict access shortly after my death, I would like you or your heirs to consider reopening access to my journal after whatever has triggered the protection is no longer relevant: the sensationalism dies down, Mom and/or Dad die, Christine no longer cares about her exposure in my entries. The more you shut down, the more caution is needed in opening back up. However, in the long run, i would be comfortable with the whole journal being public.


Dreamwidth’s privacy controls are described in this FAQ.

“[I have a permanent account therefore], you can use the Edit Journal Privacy tool. This will allow you to change the privacy level of all entries made during a specific period by choosing the start and end date of the period you want to change, or all past entries by choosing "All Dates". You can also specify that only entries of a certain privacy level should be changed: for example, you might want to change your locked entries to public ones, while leaving your private entries alone, or change your locked entries to private ones while leaving your public entries alone."


LiveJournal Permanent Member

"[I have a permanent account therefore you] can use the Edit Journal Privacy page to edit the privacy on multiple entries all at once. This page can be used to change the security level of a group of entries that is currently Public, Friends-only, or Private to another one of those three security levels. There is no way to use this tool to move to or from the Custom security level, but you can quickly change or remove access to those entries by editing your custom friends groups.” — http://www.livejournal.com/support/faq/120.html

Tags: administrivia, eventuality

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