Monday, November 11, 2013

315: Egotaph

ENTRY 315: Egotaph

"We were supposed to be forever."
- Egotaph of John Doe #33616

At a time when a large percentage of transhumanity believes in digital immortality, the prospect of final death - no more forks or back-ups, just corrupted data and a slagged cortical stack - remains intimidating, even horrifying. Perhaps that is why so many transhumans create digital memorials to those lost minds, archives popularly known as egotaphs.

An egotaph contains a sum distillation of the ego's data, often as much of what they wrote and produced as can be found. Not just biographical data, but forum posts, reviews, media containing images of them, interviews and remembrances with family and friends, all the details of their life. Some egotaphs have become ongoing projects, the focal points of scholarship on media creators, athletes, politicians, and their works, with different critics and biographers contributing their own original research to the egotaph.

In form, egotaphs are designed to avoid the "editing wars" of public wikis, and are generally limited access so that anyone can upload additional data but no one can edit or erase already-uploaded data. Users can flag certain egotaphs as desecrated if poor or irrelevant material is uploaded, which allows the admins of the egotaph service to rewind the history of the egotaph back to before the bad submission, and even limit upload rights for a time. Certain particularly notorious or divisive figures have been the subject of prolonged campaigns toward desecration, and the admins typically restrict uploaders to those with established academic or media producer credentials.

The vast majority of egotaphs are created by friends, family, and grassroots networks to remember individuals lost during or since the Fall, although several historical figures from long before the exodus from Earth have their own egotaphs, and the egotaphs are made and maintained by volunteers. Nowadays egotaphs are their own cottage industry, with "capture apps" and services available to create and maintain egotaphs for living individuals who suspect they may at some point be no more. A rather disturbing current trend is to install the dead ego's muse as the admin and perpetual curator of their egotaph.


  • Firewall has been monitoring the egotaphs of several minor Earth writers, particularly H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. They suspect that an exsurgent cult has been planting secret messages in those egotaphs as public "dead drops," possibly including one or more basilisk hack booby traps for the unwary. The PCs are tasked with monitoring the visitors coming to these egotaphs and find out if there is any connection to known exsurgent groups.
  • One of the PCs discovers an egotaph devoted to themselves. If they investigate the mystery, they find an entire alternate life, complete with friends, family, coworkers, and children - a complete "might have been" lifetime, and the individuals involved are confused and hurt at their sudden reappearance. It is up to the gamemaster as to whether this is an early fork (or is the PC the fork?), or an elaborate con game of some sort.

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