Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Digital Mourning

Another holiday is approaching, and so it seems fitting not to forget the recent loss to the media community that covers technology just after Thanksgiving. As an inveterate gadget-loving geek and media wonk, I followed the mountain ordeal of CNET senior editor James Kim and his family closely. Some GoogleEarth users morbidly focused on the geography of the tragic events, in which the Kim family struggled to survive after accidentally going down a snowed in road that had been closed for the season.

The video tribute to Kim from his colleagues at CNET marks a new kind of mourning in the era of user-generated content. Indeed, the search terms "memoriam" and "memorium" on YouTube now bring up hundreds of videos: some shot in mockery, some montages in tribute to famous people, but also many intimate portraits of deceased relatives and friends like this one for Officer Larry Cantrell or this one for Virginia R. Houghton. (I, of course, thought that the fact that Houghton had no recorded life before her wedding day was interesting.) I couldn't help but notice that many of these videos use hit music from mainstream stars, like The Beatles, presumably without paying for the license to include the tracks. I guess the attorney who goes after mourning videographers really would be the lowest of the low.



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