Cybertime

Cybertime
Meg Hourinan in O’Reilly Network: What We’re Doing When We Blog [Jun. 13, 2002]:

What distinguishes a collection of posts from a traditional home page or Web page? Primarily it’s the reverse-chronological order in which posts appear. When a reader visits a weblog, she is always confronted with the newest information at the top of the page.Having the freshest information at the top of the page does a few things: as readers, it gives a sense of immediacy with no effort on our part. We don’t have to scan the page, looking for what’s new or what’s been changed. If content has been added since our last visit, it’s easy to see as soon as the page loads.

Additionally, the newest information at the top (coupled with its time stamps and sense of immediacy) sets the expectation of updates, an expectation reinforced by our return visits to see if there’s something new. Weblogs demonstrate that time is important by the very nature in which they present their information. As weblog readers, we respond with frequent visits, and we are rewarded with fresh content.

Cyberspace is what we called it but cybertime might have fitted as easily. Space is shrunk so we have a global village (perhaps) and time has altered the notion of now. It has altered it to the extent that we have to use words like “real-time”, synchronous, asynchronous. The passage by Meg Hourinan draws attention to this simple phenomena, the use of time… not unexpectedly in web logs. Yes the content is “fresh” or stale… but a strange thing happens, by logging it old content becomes fresh. I think so anyway. I often log old items here, because I think they are still fresh. Sometimes because they are particularly old, like my notes on Huxley’s Crome Yellow. The asynchronous nature of email and web groups is a way that the now has stretched. But for it to be experienced as a stretch we need to see the date. This dating of items is needed so we can get the timing right on the wave we are surfing. Dating items on the web was there from the early days with the conventional Last Updated line at the bottom of the page. With weblogs it has promoted itself to the top. Hmmm, as in newspapers, hence the weblog is more like journalism. Journals too have dates. Rebecca Blood mentions

In early 1999 Brigitte Eaton compiled a list of every weblog she knew about and created the Eatonweb Portal. Brig evaluated all submissions by a simple criterion: that the site consist of dated entries. Webloggers debated what was and what was not a weblog, but since the Eatonweb Portal was the most complete listing of weblogs available, Brig’s inclusive definition prevailed.

All this is of particular interest in that it echoes what happens in the psyche. From the outside it looks as if people in therapy are examining the past, but that is not so. What they bring to a session is “fresh” — because they brought it! And why? Because the pattern of the past will be repeating in the present and the pattern is the interesting thing. Patterns of the soul – archetypes – are worth catching. To be fully there – the ‘past’ also needs to be time-stamped — it is impossible to imagine a specific feeling without a specific moment (or span of them). The underlying pattern is outside of time. Fits with the idea that the soul is eternal. e-ternal, not a reference to the e words but just wondering if it means outside of time?

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