Friday, April 6, 2007
I've been playing around with Twitter lately. Twitter is the most bare bones social networking site in the history of the Internet, and yet it is also one of the most useful and certainly one of the most addicting. Essentially, Twitter is a status message, like in an instant messenger program. Where Twitter takes things further is in two ways: 1. by making those messages RSS feeds, you can have a page where you can see what all your friends are doing and thinking in more or less real time, and 2. by integrating with instant messaging and cell phone text messaging, you can know what's up with everyone anywhere they are, and submit your own updates on the fly.
My friends that I've tried to get to join's reactions seem to be one of three: 1. cool! 2. I don't know if I am interesting enough/could keep it up, or 3. that is so lame, why would I want to know what people are doing? The thing about it is, you really have no idea how interesting Twitter is until you're using it. Certainly, the main page is less than inspiring, with a list of people you don't know doing random things. But as with most new ideas, you soon forget how you ever lived without it.
It is only a matter of time before Twitter, Blogger, MySpace, camera phones, Flickr, Consummating, Gmail, Tumblr, and del.icio.us all come together in a sloppy Web 2.0 orgy to give birth to true lifelogging, or, in the spirit of clever short forms, "flogging."
Many (most?) hip, geeky types already have an embryonic flog, it's just in pieces. I do. In Gmail, I have every e-mail message I've received in the several years I've had it and space for thousands more. While I've been lazy with it, in theory I could have a photographic record of my life recorded in Flickr. If I wanted to, I could use my phone and add photos from just about everywhere I go. I'm blogging my opinions right now. With Twitter, I have a record of most of the things I've been doing or thinking, from the mundane to the exciting, and people can see it in real time. Del.icio.us stores websites I come across. I'm tempted to start a tumblelog to get down little snippets and amusing random happenings.
What if this was all in one place? What if it was all indexable and searchable and taggable, and maybe even automatic?
I think there will be a day, perhaps a decade or two away, when the idea of not having an external "memory archive" of everything you have ever done will be alien. There will be a time when it would be considered odd to not be able to google your flog on Januray 2, 2043 and see who you IMed on March 22, 2012, and to pull up the conversation to read. It will be strange to not have photos and video of at least a few events nearly every single day, stored for perpetuity and ready for recollection as vividly as the day they occurred.
I have to admit, I'm not a big privacy stickler. Personal information, such as identification and passwords and accounts, certainly, but I don't generally care if anybody knows who I am or what I look like or what I'm up to. But it is my sincere belief that they days of privacy as we presently think of it are pretty much over, and not because of Big Brother. People are voluntarily exhibiting themselves online, and increasingly using their real names to do it. People are realizing that the Internet isn't some scary festering lair of pedophilia and stalking, it is a place just like any other, as good or bad as the people who visit.
But a flog need not be public. Twitter is. As far as I know, and Twitter certainly has a pretty small user base right now, Twitter has not yet been used for somebody to track and harm anybody. I'm sure the day will come, but the odds are no greater than a person tracking and harming someone in real life. At most, more people will simply set their Twitter to "friends only."
And so it will be with lifelogs. You'll choose what things and how much of them to make public. I might be comfortable letting people see most of my life, if they were so utterly bored they might find it entertaining. Someone else might only allow certain choice bits out. It would have to be fully customizable and robust.
Somebody is going to get rich.
Posted by Ryan at 8:58 AM