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Dealing with your digital afterlife

When Evan Carroll's aunt asked him several years ago if he could take care of her online identity after she died, he soon realized it was not a simple request.

Her e-mail, Facebook account and other digital impressions were all managed and stored on servers that she didn't own.

"What's going to happen to this stuff?" he wondered. "Where's it going to go?"

Attempting to answer those questions has become an unexpected side career for Carroll and John Romano, colleagues who work for the Raleigh public relations firm Capstrat.

This year, the duo published "Your Digital Afterlife," a book that explores all the issues being raised by people living, and dying, in an increasingly digital world. They also have a website, www.thedigitalbeyond.com that has become a portal for resources and information about the topic.

Carroll, 24, and Romano, 39, will appear on a panel this morning at the annual South by Southwest music and media conference in Austin, Texas, to discuss what legal frameworks and standards should be adopted to protect people's digital assets after they are gone.

"People are just starting to consider this," Romano said. "Think about someone who's been online 30, 40 years."

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