For a storyteller, cemeteries are both symbolic and a source of inspiration. How do we remember the stories our lives told? Who were these people? What does death mean for us? I have a book of Parisian cemeteries, with entries on the lives of the noteworthy, famous, and talented buried there. I love flipping through it and reading the entries; it's like an abbreviated social history. And each glimpse of a life makes me want to learn more.
This morning, I learned of a newish development in "death care" and tombstones (hat tip - Husband). One can now insert a barcode onto the headstone, and when a smartphone or other scanning device reads the barcode, they will be directed to a website with stories and photos. That's certainly more effective as a memorial function (at least for the short term, as long as society has the technology to read those barcodes and the websites to display the information). From a storyteller's or a romantic dreamer's perspective, such a function is much less provocative. And it is hard for me to avoid the sense that putting a barcode on someone's headstone commercializes them, makes their life into a commodity, even though that's just by association.
If that takes off, or if we develop other ways of memorializing ourselves, with videos embedded in mausoleums or 3-D holograms leaping from grave sites, I wonder what cemetery-wandering in the future will be like. Will it be harder to stretch our imaginations? And does it matter?