As someone who has often looked in from the outside, PDA in hand, I can see why so many people enjoy using smartphones and always-connected tablets. That said, I do wonder if we're asking too much from technology. As I mentioned yesterday, I am on a minimal data plan with my new phone. What this means is that I will not use 3G or LTE data with the device, but instead rely exclusively on WiFi hotspots for all of my mobile data needs. This is pretty much what I've been doing since moving to Japan, and the way I use technology typically supports this usage pattern. The difference is that I will have the option of connecting at more places thanks to the WiFi package that comes with the phone. Going offline every so often isn't always a bad thing, after all; if gives us time to breathe1.
I've been giving some thought to how time would work for a person's journal that is several hundred years old. Time, as we record it, is a static thing. An event happens at a given point in time, and we record it as having taken place at that time. This works fine when we reference an event with a date and time stamp, but it starts to break down when we use relative time stamps. At the bottom of this site there are three examples of relative time stamps, and these work fine for someone who is still alive and using services like Twitter and App.Net. What will happen though in 400 years? Does it make sense to show "about 400 years ago" on a landing page?
Over the last few weeks the number of visitors to my Noteworthy-powered sites has more than quadrupled. Most people would be quite happy to see this happen to their site, but I was a little suspicious of seeing spikes in the my CloudFlare analytics. These sorts of things typically don't happen to blogs like mine because I don't write anything that would catch the attention of the big traffic sites. In an effort to find the cause of the extra traffic I wrote a quick little stats package that would validate the information being reported by CloudFlare. After just a week of testing, the numbers seemed legit … there were a lot of spikes in traffic, and they were coming in regular batches. But why?
In 1989 Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee devised a wonderful way for electronic documents to reference each other by way of the hyperlink. This simple little idea allowed one document to explicitly reference another located somewhere else, and provided a way for people to follow the link and access that document. Now, nearly a quarter century later, the href plays such an important role in everything online that it's very rare that we stumble across a page that doesn't have one. It's that important to us. But there's a problem … links, like humans, are mortal.
The Guardian has recently released a slew of articles in favour of rules that will let our online past be forgotten after a set amount of time. As the creator of a web service that hopes to let people read the information we put online for the next thousand years, this is something that I have also had to think long and hard about. Some people don't want to air all of their private thoughts, feelings, or emotions to anybody with access to Google, and I don't blame them in the least. This is actually one of the reasons I've had trouble building a site like 10Centuries despite having the desire to do so for over half a decade.