Ryan Irelan

is building Mijingo and doing limited consulting.

Keeping Our Experiences

Every morning I launch an app called Timehop. It shows me stuff that I’ve posted to social media over the last seven years or so. It is the only reliable and simple way I can get a glimpse of my activities, thoughts, and photos, from today three years ago or today seven years ago (a sad reality for many of us, I’m afraid). Because social media services like Facebook and Twitter make it so difficult to explore your past contributions to their networks, services like Timehop have become required to really collect our thoughts that we willingly spread across all these different services.

Manton Reece recently posted that we should consider not spreading our content around all these different services and then have our content “sliced up and interspersed with ads on someone else’s platform.”

Manton notes that these common every day activities that we so casually document on social media services is, in essence, our life.

Those common everyday activities that don’t seem noteworthy today? That’s our life. One after another, strung together for days and then years until we die. It’s the culture of the 21st century scattered among millions of micro posts. And it’ll be lost to time if we don’t curate it.

It is a digital scrapbook. It is our digital journal. If you’re like me and don’t have a history of journaling, the online services are where we keep notes about our lives, our experiences, and even our fears.

Not long ago, I quipped on Twitter:

This tweet came out of reacquainting myself with DayOne, which is an app that allows you to diary or journal your day-to-day activities. I purchased DayOne for OS X and iOS a while ago. But I wasn’t actually using it.

Looking at Timehop one morning I realized that my information is strewn about all over the place. I decided to centralize. I wanted it in a futureproof format that allowed me to easily archive it, search it, retrieve it, reformat it, or do whatever I wanted to it at any time I wanted to.

The opposite of what Twitter or Facebook offer.

I set up DayOne with a tool by Brett Terpstra called Slogger. Slogger automatically slurps up all of my social media data and stores it in DayOne. Whatever I post on social services is safely saved in my journal.

I also needed a behavior change.

DayOne is now a main app on both my laptop and my iPhone. On my phone I put it in the place where the Twitter app used to be, so that it is what I launched when I have a thought to record or a smart-ass comment to make. DayOne makes it really easy to share your diary entries out to the social services, so why not have it there to begin with?

I am still sharing on social services like Twitter, but now I’m maintaining control of what I write because everything is always either sourced from or archived to DayOne. For me, this means perhaps one day collecting all of this information from my journal and giving it to my family as a record of the experiences I had.

The thoughts you have, the moments you experience, the photos you take, the videos you record, put together is–as Manton points out–your life_. While I am not a very sentimental person, we learn from our own past. We have the technology to document it on our own terms. It is important that we do so.

Want to share your thoughts? @Reply to me on Twitter.

There’s more to read in the archive.