Persistent History: I Post Therefore I Am

“An increasing amount of our social interaction with other people (and people-like agents) will be occurring online. Visualizations of these interactions can have a huge impact on how legible these social environments are, what behaviors they encourage, and how appealing they are.�

Judith Donath, a professor of media arts and sciences at MIT, makes this observation in a visually rich tome entitled Elsewhere Mapping.

She goes on to suggest “A Conversation Mapping can construct a rendering of each participant from the history of that person’s interactions in the environment. Such a depiction is meaningful: it can help make each person stand out as an individual. Persistent history is the information world’s version of a body.�

I love this last statement! It offers a very interesting explanation for the popularity of a wide range of online behavior. If virtual existence is important to me, and I’m convinced that my continued online existence is contingent upon the creation of a persistent and significant online presence, I will do everything I can to make that happen.

I will most likely create a blog and maintain it. I might also make a habit of commenting on other people’s blogs. Having a presence on MySpace, Facebook, or Linkedin couldn’t hurt either. Posting pictures on Flickr or accounting for my every move using Twitter would probably add ‘virtual substance’ to my online corporality.

Of course, to insure that these strategies were working, I would need to engage in constant self-monitoring. This is best accomplished by Googling myself to make sure that I really exist. I would hope for a mention on the first page of Google results but I’m sometimes thwarted by a Canadian divorce lawyer and a capital funds manager, both vying for attention. Existing is getting to be hard work.

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