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Digital Remembrance - a service to support the families left behind

The Digital Remembrance is a web-based service provided by Amnesty International which allows people at risk to leave messages for his/her loved ones. If the at-risk-person is illegally detained, the account will be activated, and start sending stories/pictures/messages to the family. This will allow the illegally detained person to spread joy and happiness, even when s/he is not with her/his family.

Photo of Anne Kjaer Riechert
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Watching the TED Talk by  Stefana Broadbent on "How the Internet enables intimacy"( made me question how a husband/wife of an illegally detained person is able to stay "in love" and feel connected with their wife/husband, when they do not hear from him/her. It made me question how we as human beings are able to nurture intimate relationships across large distances and even across time - with people who are no longer with us. 

My mother has given a book to both of my grandparents and asked them to write down small stories from their lives. My grandfather died a while back, and it is nice to be able to bring out the book, see his handwriting and listen to the stories. It kind of feels like he is still here. I also know that soldiers who are leaving for the front are writing letters, which will be kept and given to the family, in the tragic event that s/he does not return home

So, I wondered what Amnesty International could learn from that. I assume that many of the people who are illegally detained, know of the risk of this happening. in advance. I therefor propose that Amnesty creates a website, here people at risk of being detained, can leave messages, movies, pictures etc. for their family. For instance a mother could leave a certain message to be sent to her son on his birthday or a message for her husband on their day of anniversary.

If the person is taken away, then Amnesty will activate the account of the person, so that the stories that left behind can sent to their family as ordered by the now illegally detained person, who is not able to communicate with the outside world any more. This also allows Amnesty to keep track of and support the families of illegally detained people, as well as stay in close contact with "high risk" activists.  

What kind of resources are needed to get this idea off the ground and/or support it over time?

- A "human factor" designer - A psychologist - A web designer - A web master

My Virtual Team

... A special thanks to: - Stefana Broadbent for her wonderful TED Talk - Tomoko Hayashi for her wonderful Mutsugoto "long distance relationship" design/art piece ( which was presented at Pecha Kucha Tokyo Oct. 2011.

How could this idea also be adapted to work in low-tech situations?

Amnesty international could create a Remembrance Book which is given to people "at risk" for free. Then they could fill it in, and let their family know, that they can open it, only if the person is taken away. A collection of wearable clothes and accessories, similar to Tomoko Hayashi´s intimacy (2003) could also be created. "Intimacy" is a series of accessories for people who exist in a long-distance relationship. The accessories are a combination clothing and jewelry, such as necklace or ring. "Lovers can take the jewelry out to give it as a gift to their lover in a distant location. This allows lovers to share the memory of the object remotely and feel close to each other. The embossed pattern will fade away little by little (through pressure, moisture or heat) with daily use. When they meet again, the lovers can recreate the pattern by pressing the piece with a very hot iron" ... the clothing collection with embossed jewelry patterns could be developed and sold by Amnesty International (*what a romantic present!), and the proceeds would go directly to help families of illegally detained people.


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Photo of Paul Reader

Wonderful, sensitive concept Anne.
Assisting families to preserve memories both digital and physical is always worthwhile. My father died two years ago and I am presently constructing a blog with some of the visual, audible and written memories and materials.
Even while people are still alive helping families preserve momentos is appropriate.

Photo of Anne Kjaer Riechert

Thank you Paul for your nice comments and for sharing your own experience. Do you use a particular program / blog which is designed for this kind digital remembrance? I also wonder if there were any feature in the blog you use, which you really appreciate, or a feature which you think would make the blog even more useful?

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