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Mementos, Memento Mori, and More: Digital Assets across the Human Lifespan

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We all have mementos that are special to us: photos of our grandparents, songs that remind us of our first love, or videos of our children taking their first steps. These kinds of mementos are increasingly digital, and it becomes important to develop new ways of dealing with these assets in order to meet human needs throughout the lifespan. In my work, I have explored how digital mementos can help to forge and support human relationships during bereavement. Based on fieldwork with bereaved individuals and community organizations, I built a website called Besupp that uses mementos as primary data types in an online support group. I will describe how bereaved participants used Besupp to share their stories, cope with their grief, and find support online. Based on my thesis work, I will remark on how the end of life suggests the need for a lifespan-oriented design approach that considers how computing fits into our lives throughout, and beyond, our lifetimes.

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