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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Dead Address Book Entries

Comments (10)

I just did a search in my address book for someone and came up with the address book entry for someone I know that died last year.

I was sad.  I sat – paralyzed – for thirty seconds struggling to decide whether or not to delete the address book entry. 

I realized this is a great example of an unintended consequence of technology.  I was not particularly close to this person (they were a neighbor of mine) but I flashed back to a walk along our creek that we had one day while scoping out the location for a new gate that Amy and put up in our canyon.  He was a nice but somewhat troubled guy that didn’t live long enough.

Those were memories I probably would have never had again if I hadn’t seen his name in the address book entry. 

I decided not to delete the address book entry.

  • Josh P.

    You're not alone. I've taken the same approach on my grandmother and uncle's entry in my contacts, both passing away this year. Just couldn't bring myself to deleting them.

    (2 years of reading you, I've doubled my comments in one day; weird)

  • http://marcelo.sampasite.com Marcelo Calbucci

    I had a similar situation with somebody that passed and I was connected to him on LinkedIn. It took me a year to remove him from my contact list.

  • Jud Valeski

    this happens to me from time to time. deaths, old friends from times past, etc.

    I always leave them in. for better or worse, they force me to think when I find them. they're memory joggers for me. like a form of network/infrastructure/sky-net-like memory for my existence.

  • Steve Bergstein

    I've reached the same conclusion that you, Jud, and Josh have: I just can't bring myself to delete the deceased contacts from my electronic contact lists.

    I still have entries for my parents-in-law, father, and grandmother, among others. Deleting them would be too much like erasing their memories from my life. I like seeing their names on their birthdays as well as on their dates-of-death. It's good for me to remember that Sally will be especially melancholy on the dates that relate to her parents.

  • http://blog.jparkhill.com Jay Parkhill

    My bike racing teammate was killed a little over a month ago. His Facebook page is still up and will be forever, possibly. It's nice to visit and see the notes people leave on his Wall. I haven't even thought about taking him out of my address book yet. That will be ok at some point, but not quite yet.

    I also wrote a post on what happens online when someone dies here: http://tinyurl.com/2uy4cu

  • http://blog.embracepetinsurance.com Laura

    Brad, I decided that I would leave my mother's contact information in my address book when she died. I don't think I ever could remove it even if somehow I thought I should. It gives me comfort somehow.

    It still takes me aback though to come across her old comments on my blog history. She was an early riser and so I made a habit of setting my posts to publish just when she'd be reading her emails and blogs in the morning. A way to say hello to her. I still do the same. Just a way of connecting to someone important.

  • http://www.ckstevenson.blogspot.com Chris

    Sorry for the re-realization of the lose.

    However, this has nothing to do with technology. If you kept a paper based contact list, you would have still come across the contact information. We can't blame technology for that which has always occurred in the paper based world as well.

  • http://blog.kwiry.com Ron Feldman

    I've had the same issue for a few years now with a friend's info. In my cell phone, IM contact list, etc. Still haven't deleted any. Since my friend's name starts with an A, it's the first that pops up all the time and is a constant sad reminder, but can't bring myself to delete it either…..

  • http://blog.embracepetinsurance.com Laura

    Chris, I don't see paper the same as electronic. Quite different to me. Electronic is so much easier to zap completely. Quite deliberate.

  • http://sco.tt Scott Yates

    I think you should send the guy a note.

    They say the only books you get to read in heaven are the ones you lend out and don't get back. I think there's an analogy in there somewhere to emailing the hereafter.

  • Josh P.

    You're not alone. I've taken the same approach on my grandmother and uncle's entry in my contacts, both passing away this year. Just couldn't bring myself to deleting them.

    (2 years of reading you, I've doubled my comments in one day; weird)

  • Marcelo Calbucci

    I had a similar situation with somebody that passed and I was connected to him on LinkedIn. It took me a year to remove him from my contact list.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jud_valeski3968 jud_valeski3968

    this happens to me from time to time. deaths, old friends from times past, etc.

    I always leave them in. for better or worse, they force me to think when I find them. they're memory joggers for me. like a form of network/infrastructure/sky-net-like memory for my existence.

  • Laura

    Brad, I decided that I would leave my mother's contact information in my address book when she died. I don't think I ever could remove it even if somehow I thought I should. It gives me comfort somehow.

    It still takes me aback though to come across her old comments on my blog history. She was an early riser and so I made a habit of setting my posts to publish just when she'd be reading her emails and blogs in the morning. A way to say hello to her. I still do the same. Just a way of connecting to someone important.

  • Ron Feldman

    I've had the same issue for a few years now with a friend's info. In my cell phone, IM contact list, etc. Still haven't deleted any. Since my friend's name starts with an A, it's the first that pops up all the time and is a constant sad reminder, but can't bring myself to delete it either…..

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/steve_bergs2127 steve_bergs2127

    I've reached the same conclusion that you, Jud, and Josh have: I just can't bring myself to delete the deceased contacts from my electronic contact lists.

    I still have entries for my parents-in-law, father, and grandmother, among others. Deleting them would be too much like erasing their memories from my life. I like seeing their names on their birthdays as well as on their dates-of-death. It's good for me to remember that Sally will be especially melancholy on the dates that relate to her parents.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jay_parkhil2393 jay_parkhil2393

    My bike racing teammate was killed a little over a month ago. His Facebook page is still up and will be forever, possibly. It's nice to visit and see the notes people leave on his Wall. I haven't even thought about taking him out of my address book yet. That will be ok at some point, but not quite yet.

    I also wrote a post on what happens online when someone dies here: http://tinyurl.com/2uy4cu

  • Chris

    Sorry for the re-realization of the lose.

    However, this has nothing to do with technology. If you kept a paper based contact list, you would have still come across the contact information. We can't blame technology for that which has always occurred in the paper based world as well.

  • Laura

    Chris, I don't see paper the same as electronic. Quite different to me. Electronic is so much easier to zap completely. Quite deliberate.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/scott_yates498 scott_yates498

    I think you should send the guy a note.

    They say the only books you get to read in heaven are the ones you lend out and don't get back. I think there's an analogy in there somewhere to emailing the hereafter.

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