Community Question: Lifestreaming

With the closing of several Google services I’ve been thinking about some of the content I (and a bunch of other people) publish across the social web. So much that I want to get some ideas about what many of you think about it all. If you step back and think about how many new people are joining and actively participating in social networks, one has to consider where we go from here. What do we do to protect the emergence of our meta identities — each crafted in small pieces across many networks. As a simple example, take a look at the emergence of Facebook with adults … according to a new report issued by the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s December 2008 tracking survey:

The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005 to 35% now.

That is a whole lot of people creating lots of real data about themselves and their relationships. Even if you don’t worry about closures or server meltdowns, consider the following from a post on Read Write Web:

The most obvious example of this loss of access to lifestream data? The inability to access anything beyond beyond page 162 on Twitter. No matter how many times you’ve posted, you cannot go back any further than 3240 tweets. So, every new public message you send removes one from your history. (To see this in action, simply add “?page=162” to the end of any Twitter user’s default URL.) Those who had seen Twitter as a journal of sorts for recording fleeting moments for posterity, suddenly found those moments just as fleeting online.

I’ve talked to lots of people who think that their Twitter streams belong to them. The reality is that we are trapping our thoughts, relationships, and content in someone else’s microblog. It has bothered me since we used Twitter in my CI 597C course — much of the course dialogue happened in the backchannel there and much of it is lost. Clearly this only one small example, but I am guessing you get the idea.

So I am curious about what kinds of strategies we should be considering as we continue down this path? I doubt the answer is to stop participating — the ship has left the port and it isn’t coming back in. What do we think?