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Circle of Life - Museum. Nature. Art. Digital. AI

It could help appreciate a unique life story & regret less of missed moments. It could help accept death as natural & change the way we die.

Photo of Natalia Shipilova
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

First it is designed for:
- smart-phone users, who don't think of dying, but use their smart phones in everyday life and unconsciously create virtual clones through social networks.
- digital-experienced, who have moments of their loved ones in different spaces and have no time, inspiration to manage it.

Circle brings more awareness and show uniqueness of story in beautiful format, naturally integrated in digital behavior, capturing and sharing moments, to prevent Time against Choice.

Big City Life: Low recognition of death.

In big cities death contact became vague due to absence of relevant funeral culture and established infrastructure: all death issues are sorted out by hospitals, morgues, funeral homes.

Big city life made impressive impact on death perception and funerals. Due to burial ground shortage and rising funeral costs, cremation and other cost-effective and green alternatives became dominant in many countries. Bodies disappear without any grave site as a memorial place. More than ever before people are on the move, and many graves are stayed forgotten. What is left? Memory and love. It turns out the first is not that good now.

Does such low recognition make our life happier? 

The life shows that many people suffer regrets of missed moments at the end of their life. Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, in her book The Top Five Regret of Dying described the most common regrets, for instance, having no courage to express feeling, to live a true life not the life expected by others, let just be happier and working not so hard.

It looks like we sometimes forget about living.

Memento Vivere instead of Memento Mori.

There is a well-known Latin expression Memento mori. We can remember of our mortality, but city life and high speed rhythm accelerated by the digital age can hardly help focus on that.

What if to shift a focus to Memento vivere - remember to live. It could be a clue how to bring the funerals and remembrance into the 21st century.

While making a research I found that funeral trends and digital behavior are bringing celebration of life more and more to the forefront. This message is also cultivated by TED’s speeches about death.

The natural burials, ashes planted with a tree or turned into a diamond, ocean messenger urn or fireworks and celebration of life ceremonies keep the human live spirit.

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Digital also became an essential part of all our lifecycle experience and created new values:

  • Social networks embrace our storytelling;
  • Smartphones and Google became our memory keepers;
  • Internet of things makes physical space more tangible;
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology automate many processes thus approaching the human identity;
  • Digital abundance make us to live more in the now moment.
Digital Room in The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon

And in this perspective I would assume that:

  1. Digital could be the only environment for keeping memories and a family tree by creating virtual immortality. 
  2. Digital death would reach the same importance as physical death, because we share more and more data about ourselves in the digital environment thus creating our virtual clone.


But currently recognition of this aspect is also quite low.

We generate lots of data for different purposes, keep it in different spaces and don't have time and wish to manage it, because every new day we have new data.

We think a family tree and stories are important, but don't have time, inspiring tool and purpose to create a story about ourselves and those whom we love. We don’t think of our digital legacy and associate remembrance and a life story with a summary and something boring.

And we forget some stories of our loved ones which disappear in the past and have less chance to stay in memory for the future.

Actually our bodies keep information about our ancestors in our DNA (23andme.com is one of examples), but not about their personalities: hobbies, interests, thoughts or something like this we want to remember rather just facts.

Does it mean that Facebook and other social networks’ timeline could be the only digital footprint people leave for the future generations (not laptops, cloud storages, smartphones)?

Survey, Manchester, UK, 2015

We are fast moving into a time where everything we share for different purposes with a power of AI can be analyzed and turned into virtual us - hopefully the ones we are happy with.

We are the owners of our life story and it matters to have some control over it.

Circle of Life - Museum. Nature. Art. Digital

Circle of Life brings together art, nature, digital technologies by creating a life story and keeping it in a physical Museum space. It combines current trends, startup concepts, our lifestyle and digital behavior to enhance celebration of life through the following elements:

  • Museum surrounded by nature and art as a right place to inspire yourself and keep your story, a right place to start a dialogue and share feelings, a right place to make a choice with your body and how to be remembered and thus to rise recognition of death in a less stressful way and appreciate life more. As a physical space it creates more confidence for keeping stories.
  • Digital Premium Storage - an AI platform (inspired by Thegrid.io) which collects life moments in many ways and automatically creates a story for a Museum, a book, a movie clip.



Instead of archiving or creating a message for the future generations which appeals to our memory or some special mood I focused on the now - to keep what is important at the moment, for instance, some great events like wedding, birthday, or just a good walk, inspiring music, a friends meetup. You catch it, spend time on it at that very moment, then you will probably will not come back - in a while it become a memory. And here Thegrid.io inspired me to help these moments to be easily shared and automatically turned into a story no matter when we’ll have to check-out. And this would be a story of true you, not only someones memory of you.

Any captured moment can be easily shared with Circle. Digital AI Platform prototype.

I see the power of this storytelling when you keep what matters to you now - it will tell about you more than a specially made speech. And you don’t need to be in a right mood and remember about mortality - just be yourself. Of course, it can be edited and synced with the passed moments, because you are the owner and you can do what matters to you.

In Circle Museum stories will be available through digital medium to be viewed in public and private spaces. Digital Room Prototype.

It takes some courage, because it speaks to our mortality. But it could help appreciate the unique life story, to reveal inner potential. And it could change the way we die.

Museum is a right place where you can rethink death and appreciate life. Circle Museum Prototype.

No matter where a physical Museum would be, it is more about recognition, that your story and stories of your loved ones are in the Museum kept in a beautiful respectful way. 

I also hope funeral cemeteries would rethink their role as memorials and will turn into places for celebration of life. No matter where and how your beloved one was buried, you can come to any cemetery, upload a story of your loved one and pay tribute in a respectful beautiful environment - not just on your smartphone.

Circle’s current status.

Currently I’m exploring opportunities to create a movement, cooperation and a project prototype. Happy to see co-thinkers and expand my network of rethinking death and remembrance. Huge thanks to everyone who share information and contacts.

Circle of Life is landed on Circleoflife.space and Circleoflife.club.

All Circle journey, including research and concept development, can be read in my blog.

I’m open for talk:)

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I made different tests: online test, street interviews; the whole Circle of Life concept test and just Circle web-service. Overall the test showed the positive feedbacks. While testing just a web-service it was treated as merely another social network and automatically compared to Facebook and Instagram. But when I presented a Museum with its digital facilities and mission, there was absolutely another effect, much more exciting, because a Museum gives confidence & respect for keeping a story.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Circle of Life concept contains many opportunities and different targets. The main value - to appreciate every life story and with beautiful elements show that.
I'm open for feedbacks, networking and cooperation. Would love to make prototypes and create a movement. OpenIDEO is an amazing network of talents, open-minded souls and innovative thinkers. I really appreciate the opportunity to share this concept with the great community.

Tell us about your work experience:

Shortly, I'm a mix of different things: digital strategy, concept development, research, inbound marketing, entrepreneurship.

My toolkit:
- inbound connecting
- design thinking
- lean moving
- innovation driving
- Hyper Island UK experiencing.

More details on http://nataship.me.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm
  • A student collaboration
  • An Individual

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