The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Digital Legacies

Document Type



We all have a digital footprint and legacy, even if we aren’t the ones actively curating our own trajectories. This can be particularly salient for people of color and other marginalized people who are created, demonized, or unduly hyped by the media. Consider Sandra Bland and Michael Brown, who both died in encounters with police and were criticized for being at fault and not obeying the rules. Both also had a plethora of negative images and stories circulated about them while the White officers were said to be under duress and the recipients of fundraisers, much less ever charged with any wrongdoing. In these and many more examples, digital legacy becomes a form of accountability that is applied differently and unevenly depending on the persons in question. Whiteness is amplified, and anything or anyone else becomes “othered,” which results in Black, Brown, and other marginalized people becoming further excluded.

This biased accountability permits the status quo and the hierarchy to be maintained.

What roles does the media play, and the various Twitter mobs and trolls who act as judge and jury and perpetuate false, stereotypical, and damaging information? And will our digital legacies always be at their mercy? Chapter 3 of Library Technology Reports (vol. 56, no. 5), “Digital Legacy,” explores some of these questions and, hopefully, devises some strategies for equity in digital legacies.

APA Citation

Cooke, N. A. (2020). The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Digital Legacies. In H. Moorefield-Lang (Ed.), Library Technology Report on Digital Legacy, (pp. 12-16).Chicago, IL: American Library Association. [Invited work].