Originally published 03/14/2013
NO one will confuse typical retirees today with the Emperor Augustus, who constructed a huge mausoleum to celebrate his life for eternity. And yet they belong to the first generation of elders within easy grasp of something once so rare and valuable that relatively few historic figures could enjoy it until now: virtual immortality.Where their grandparents may have left behind a few grainy photos, a death certificate or a record from Ellis Island, retirees today have the ability to leave a cradle-to-grave record of their lives. Their descendants will be able to witness births and first steps, Pee Wee football games and grade school dance recitals, high school graduations, wedding ceremonies, first homes, vacations and family reunions. They will also be able to read their opinions on politics and religion, know that they loved the music of Junior Kimbrough, the films of Billy Wilder, the New York Yankees and mint chocolate chip ice cream.Ancestors from the distant past are, at best, names in the family Bible. Fifty, 100, even 500 years hence people will be able to see how their forebears looked and moved, hear them speak, learn about their aspirations and achievements and that sizzling ski trip to Vermont....