Broadcasting Your Life
Catherine Newman was the first blogger I ever read. She wrote Ben and Birdy as a diary on Yahoo. (I think… forgive me… it was in 2003 or so, and my memory is fuzzy.) I couldn’t wait for each post, especially because we were ensconced in fertility treatments and she was parenting. I had no clue that there were other blogs out there. There was just Ben and Birdy, the only blog (to me) in the universe.
It took a few years for the Internet to roll out its petals, opening up like a yawning flower (oooh, the vagina imagery!) as I found and then started my own infertility blog. In the early days, it felt very bare bones, like we were visiting each other’s porches and listening to stories while we stood on the steps. There were no pretty designs, few pictures, and hyperlinks felt high-tech.
I am nearing my 9th blogoversary.
10 years before I started my blog, there was a woman named Jennifer Ringley who lifecasted from her dorm room. She broadcasted a snapshot of her room every 15 minutes, and you could see whatever she was doing at the time. She stopped the experiment around the time that I started reading Ben and Birdy, so I only learned about her in retrospect.
Gizmodo writes of her lifecasting:
When Jennicam went mainstream, it was an almost radically new idea, an experiment in living life out in the open. There were a few different webcams that preceded her, including the Coffee Pot Cam, but Jennicam was the first to feature a real person, and so she was the first to experience the highs and lows of living in a camera-rigged fishbowl.
It’s interesting to think how recently we started sharing all these bits of our lives online. That even just 9 years ago, it was unusual to post about yourself online. Most people didn’t personally know someone who had a blog, nor did they own a blog themselves. Back then, a lifecaster could be newsworthy enough to end up on Letterman, whereas broadcasting your life today — either by posting video or images or stories — is more likely to be overlooked than draw attention, a single drop in the rolling, wide online sea.
I often wonder if we’re heading towards a no-barriers, transparency in everything, and everyone online version of the world a la The Circle by Dave Eggers, or if we’ll soon turn and start sharing less and less of ourselves online. That it will no longer be de rigueur to post pictures or podcast your thoughts. That, like Jennifer, we’ll pull back and not want to live out our lives online.
Everything is always in flux. We won’t remain posting in the same fashion forever, just as Ben and Birdy eventually spread wings and flew from Yahoo into its own site, and Jennicam went dark.
Where do you think we’re heading with the online world: more or less?
Side note: Tomorrow is #MicroblogMonday. Get working on your post.