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Funeral webcasting is the use of digital cameras, such as webcams, and the Internet to broadcast a funeral or memorial service to a remote location. This is often done for private services and utilizes a password-protected method to allow those who cannot physically attend a memorial service to still watch and hear the proceedings. The funerals of some famous individuals, such as celebrities or political figures, have also been webcast on a general connection that allowed the public to view the funeral online. Funeral webcasting can also be used to save the recorded service either onto portable media or a central database, allowing repeat viewings of a service as desired.
While the initial idea of funeral webcasting may seem somewhat morbid, in practice it has provided comfort for numerous individuals. There are an unfortunate number of situations in which a person may not be able to be physically present for a funeral or memorial service of a loved one. In this type of instance, the Internet does provide a powerful tool for communication and long-distance viewing of a service. More and more funeral homes have begun offering funeral webcasting to help facilitate the grieving process for those who cannot otherwise attend a memorial service.
There have also been uses of funeral webcasting for especially prominent figures, such as celebrities and political leaders. While these types of webcasts are often open to general public viewing, most funeral webcasting is done over protected networks that require passwords to access. This allows family members or friends to contact each other and have the password to view a particular service, while others are kept from potentially interfering with the memorial. Since the webcast already uses a camera, it is also quite simple for a service to be saved by the funeral home for later viewing by those who cannot watch it live, or to save the video onto a media disc for the family.
Funeral webcasting can also allow those virtually attending a funeral to provide feedback as well. There is already technology in place for some webcasts that allows those who view the funeral to “write” in a digital memorial book that can be viewed by friends and family. The potential is also there for future uses of funeral webcasting to allow more direct communication from those who are attending over the Internet. This includes the ability for long-distance communication, such as someone remotely viewing a funeral to deliver a eulogy or other comment in real time over the Internet to those who are at the funeral.
The funerals of public figures, like past presidents are televised, so I guess this is really no different, and for people who couldn't attend the services, maybe it does provide some comfort, which is a good thing.
I guess I'm always just a little taken aback at the uses people find for technology and I never even thought of having a private funeral available for webcam viewing. But as I said, if it comforts someone, then it certainly has a positive use.