My Time Machine

For one reason or another Twitter has come back into the center of my digital life in a big way. I know it started at ELI 2008 in San Antonio. There were so many people that I try to follow at the event who were sitting in sessions sharing thoughts that I decided it was the best (only) way to keep up. It has sort of brought back the feeling of being connected to both the larger education technology community and the one right around the corner here at PSU. Another big factor has been teaching this semester and seeing my students showing up in my Twitter stream … I have to admit I am getting to know the students in my class who are twittering on a regular basis a little better — not sure if “better” is the right word, but they are quickly becoming a component of my Twitter community and I am a little more tuned into what they are thinking about.

With my interest in Twitter returning I find myself updating on regular basis again … I enjoy the renewed feeling of connectedness. I did something this morning as I was reading a particularly refreshing post from one of my students — I set out to find my first Tweets and blog posts about the service. I am not sure if Twitter was intended to be used as a personal content management system of sorts in the way I use my blog and my old fashioned analog journal, but with the frequency of Twittering I was doing a year ago it is obvious it is a great way to look into the past. So I did just that and turned up what I was doing at this exact moment a year ago. I was also able to read through my Twitter tagged blog posts and see that we were thinking about some interesting uses of Twitter way back in the day (last year) that I’ve seen put into use at conferences, events, and by organizations. When I asked Twitter what I was doing literally last year at this moment it was able to tell me … not as easy to search as the blog, but the results turned up the following:


So I am feeling like it is more important than ever to keep the thinking moving forward and to keep documenting what is going on in my day-to-day life. As with blogging, I feel almost like I am leaving little anthropological records of my own thinking for my own reflection in the future … so I’m sorry if I tweet about things that seem odd, disconnected, and even irrelevant, but most of it (when looked at from a meta level) gives me solid insight into my own thought development. I’ve been saying it for a while now, but it is becoming very clear to me that all of my online identities are coming together to form not only my self in the present progressive sense, but also as a sort of time machine for me to return to the thinking that is forming my research, my organization, my thinking, my relationships, and so on. In essence, Twitter is always asking me to respond to the simple question of “What are you doing” when I am now seeing it as an amazing opportunity to travel into the past to understand the answer to that question in a more reflective and holistic sense.

6 thoughts on “My Time Machine

  1. Quite interesting for a couple of reasons. First, your Twittering and blog posts about using Twitter in different ways were some of the first that got me really interested in it– it was a slightly cruel irony that you kind of dropped off the scene just as I rolled in (though I didn’t take it personally 🙂

    Second, I’m more than casually interested in the idea of artifacts and our historical trail– social and otherwise– and until you commented on it I really hadn’t thought about the granularity in which we add to that material history by regularly using Twitter. But it fits perfectly in my understanding of smaller and smaller “quanta” of information being passed around in these systems. Twitter is the closest intentional act we have to the (so far) atomic unit of presence in social systems, the pure gesture…

  2. I completely agree with your post, Cole. Sometimes what we say on twitter and blogs is not only relevant to that moment, but they truly have become our ‘digital diary’. I certainly feel that way and I know that at times I’ve looked back on something I wrote and thought “Did I really say that?”. It’s amazing what we can learn about each other.. and ourselves in these spaces.

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  4. Very interesting perspective on Twitter and digital artifacts. I to recently returned to Twitter after months of enstrangement and looking at Twitter from the perspective of your post makes me feel it is imperative for me to some how get a handle on all the little pieces of me that are out there.

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