Monday, July 4, 2011

The Best Peep Show Ever

After a month off, iBlogAmerica returns with a piece about the memory of the internet.  This post marks my first year anniversary of this blog.  Thanks for reading and commenting!  
I will do my damnedest to keep your interest for another year.

The internet, organically digital.

Take a moment to consider how much of your life is online.

For some, the online self appears like a cross section in a geology textbook, a slice cut out of a life, a snapshot in time of what matters in a moment.  For others, the cross sections are so many and so rich, a nearly three-dimensional self appears, like a topographic map with undulating counties and states.

It's amazing how the stamp of our digital lives-- with our emails, photos, facebook postings, tweets, youtube comments-- all come with a date.  These dates, strung together, sketch a portrait of our movements and expressions.  It turns out that we all come with a digital trail, weaving and crossing with others' trails all over the web.  We are the wildebeest and zebra of the cyber-serengeti, both wild and tracked, always leaving a dusty hoof-printed trail behind us.

And we love to watch each other.  The great puzzle-making of following each other online is both anthropology and voyeurism, science and theatre.

On the Same Boat
Google a person and you will be able to count the rings in her trunk, study the fat and lean years, and perhaps identify the existence of a historical fire or flood.  Because everything comes with a day/month/year, our digital lives are like pencil lines on a door frame, marking our growings, our plateaus, our absences, and our ends.  We're not all there.  But enough information about us allows for that great puzzle-making that we humans love to do.  After all, understanding anything requires imaginative jumps to fill in the blanks.  We assemble the shards of pottery pieces of one another's online lives and build the models as best we can.

Looking back over a year of my articles, a couple of years on facebook, a decade or so of emails, I am struck by how much of my life appears on a screen.  In a couple of years, the amount of "me" NOT existing online will be dwarfed by my online self.  The photos in actual albums and actual boxes on my actual bedroom shelves are hilariously few in number compared to those in their digital counterparts.  Anyone can look me up-- our you-- and peep in.

This freaks me out a little-- but not much.  This surprises me.  Instead, I am amazed at how organic it all feels.  Electricity is the new oxygen in a digital ecosystem.  We're all here, basically, for better or worse.  We all can hide (and not hide) as well as anyone else.  Our lives:  our words, our photos, our sounds, our ideas, our friends, our loves, our mistakes, our victories-- these all live as the digital imprint of ourselves online.  Like it or not, we are all virtually here.  There's a comforting "small world" quality about it.

On the Same Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria
Exploration has never really been about geography.  The great explorers of our world are not important because they "found" anything.  The notion of exploration has always been a metaphor, just has the idea of a frontier.  Any student of history knows:  we explore to know ourselves.

Like the tracks of hominids crossing a muddy riverbed of 1's and 0's, our digital footprints don't just prove we exist.  They pay a natural and organic honor to our lives.  They are the beautiful remnants of  lives almost entirely knowable by the traces we continually leave behind.  It's a living fossil record.

In this way, the internet is a natural as the compass, medicine, or powered flight:  logical, contrived, inevitable, inspired, and absolutely human.

To listen to this as a podcast, click here!

1 comment:

  1. Good to see you return. I've missed you. Love your insight, your metaphors, your Pennsylvania way of thinking! Don't stop; the music is great at my end.