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Mobile Applications

Something uniquely Italian about 'Facebook' for the dead?

Yesterday the first online cemetery app was released to the world by a team of developers based in the tech community in Venice, Italy. Called RipCemetery it promises to “keep your best memories alive” via virtual flowers, hearts, post-its, videos and photos. The aim is to create a place where people can gather from across the globe to mourn their loved ones.

“Like a traditional cemetery, but with something more” boasts the website.

This may be a noble idea, but to British sensibilities there does seem something extremely bizarre about “personalising the background” of a virtual gravestone and choosing between placing a virtual duck at the “graveside” for $3 (and at the most expensive end of the scale) or a free flower.

It is basically ‘Facebook’ for the dead. And even the FAQs seem a spot macabre:

Question: “What if a user posts a tombstone of a living person?”

Answer: “Simply click on the icon Report: RipCemetery, after checking the validity of the report, will remove the tomb.”

That would be a horrible place to find yourself. And virtually killing people off could prove a rather malicious new form of online bullying…

Question: “Can I include a deceased pet into the virtual family tomb?”

Answer: “Sure, RipCemetery lets you add your beloved pets to the family tomb: you can leave them a gift, and share these memories with your friends.”

There is even the option for a family tomb which may seem nice in theory… but in reality there could be something unkind about seeing crabby Granny Jones’ false headstone jostling for popularity against the much loved family retriever, Goldie.

The app is free, available on a variety of platforms and was launched via Indiegogo. I can’t get over what an odd concept this is, and the only way it makes sense at all, is when viewed as an online extension of the Italian attitude to physical cemeteries (Tobias Jones wrote an excellent section on this in his Dark Heart of Italy book).  

So how many downloads do you think it will get? I can see it being popular in Italy and maybe India… I’m just not sure about anywhere else.

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