personal online history
Who have you represented yourself as, over the years?
Would your posts look out-of-place by older avatars? Alessio Caiazza shows his older posts with older icons.
How much of my self is embedded in 2008 MySpace HTML I can’t access now?
From this Idle Words talk slides that I refer to for everything:
On Livejournal, for example, every post and comment can have a little user icon next to it. Fans used to use these icons as a silent commentary on the comment they’d written. Sometimes the comment didn’t even make sense without the accompanying icon for context. There were users who had amassed hundreds of user icons, and they would pick the one that best fit the comment. There was an art to it.
Until one day, Livejournal decided to limit people to 20 or 30 icons, and made the change retroactive. So they killed this feature of their site that they didn’t even understand, and they destroyed a lot of data.
I think a lot of our personal presentation is like that. We put different hats on online, in different venues and contexts. Even if I could get my old data out, can I meaningfully reconstruct the middle school MySpace without autoplaying profile music? Can I remember it for myself, even without being able to show other people?