[DigCult] The Online Presence of the Past

by Thom Kiraly

Collocated photo sharing, storytelling, and the performance of self by Nancy A. Van House touches on many of the same topics discussed in the two other text we were assigned to read for last week. I’ve already written about Goffman and flame wars and the gender trouble of Diaspora, so this post is more of a reaction to one of the stats presented in House’s article. Referencing a study on Flickr she writes that “50 percent of Flickr photoviews took place within two days of uploading”. This stat makes me, first of all, want to re-read the parts of Jay Bolter’s Writing Spaces about “the encyclopedic impulse” and secondly,  ask the question: do we really have to save everything? Do we even have a choice? Online, everything we do leaves some sort of trail, we can manage our trails, projecting illusions, but we can never be completely invisible.

This constant presence of the past online sometimes bothers me. I would like a place online where something happened once and was not recorded or stored in any way whatsoever, or if it were recorded/stored (to make it work in the first place) that this data was erased right after the event. For example, I would love to be able to stream something online and be sure that the video could not be captured in any way by anyone. A pure live broadcast. Exclusive and free for all to see, but gone the instant I stop broadcasting.

[PS. Sorry about these posts coming in chunks, but our reading responses have deadlines and I tend to wait until the last minute (or later) to finish them and put them up.]

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