First My Dad, Then My iPhone: An Autoethnographic Sketch of Digital Death


  • Daniel Wade Clarke University of Dundee School of Business



fathers and sons, digital death, hauntings, loss, autoethnography, creative arts practices, lousy singing, good enough, research poetry, affective writing


Potentially lousy singing and research poetry are used to make sense of losing—soon after he died—my iPhone containing video footage of my father singing. Since I did not back up this digital treasure, not only is he now physically dead, he is digitally dead (MONCUR, 2016) too. Considering how bereavement is shaped by digital death, in this article I focus on my experience of grief following this double loss. How is a lost video and the device that stored my memories impacting my encounter with loss? Haunting, and being haunted by, digital technology and the lost treasure, I write my way through this combined loss, showing what (im)mortality in a digital context brings me into contact with. I hope this writing connects with and encourages those struggling to persevere with similar technology-based hauntings.


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Author Biography

Daniel Wade Clarke, University of Dundee School of Business

Daniel Wade CLARKE is a senior lecturer in management and marketing at the University of Dundee School of Business. His scholarship centers around issues related to organizational space and place. He studies business management education and customer experience, as well as son-father relations and experiences of loss. His interests are framed by a desire to develop evocative forms of understanding through use of imaginative-creative and expressive representations including autoethnography, research poetry and visual imagery.>




How to Cite

Clarke, D. W. (2020). First My Dad, Then My iPhone: An Autoethnographic Sketch of Digital Death. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 21(2).