Drifting Deeper Into Spaces

I was watching this anime music video as well as another one and for some reason the music and tone sparked something inside of me. Something’s missing from my online experience. What I’m not exactly sure. For some reason I think it has to do with the different spaces and environments that we have within the real world but that you don’t often see online, especially now with the proliferation of blogs. What am I talking about? Privacy, intimacy, and solitude.

On our blogs we broadcast to the entire world. There is nothing wrong with this but we can’t be "jacked in" 24/7. We need to "unplug" so we can focus on the meaningful people and relationships around us, and even seek solitude from everyone on occasion to reflect on our own thoughts. That’s what I feel like is missing. I don’t have these different spaces online to do this.

Yes I can totally unplug, get away from the computer, be with my wife and pets, or even go for a walk to reflect on my own thoughts. Yet when I’m online, I can’t jump from those different spaces and environments because on a blog it is like having your front door open with anyone able to walk into your house. Well, what if I want a "back room" just for friends only? Even more so, what if I want a "small room" where I can just be alone with my thoughts and reflect on them.

Another reason I want these spaces is so not only can I remove the "mask" from my face but I also can give others that I invite into these private and intimate spaces the opportunity to remove their "mask" as well. What am I talking about when I say a "mask"? Keith said it best in his post When I Make Something. Later in the comments I asked him the question, "Don’t you wish you could just be yourself on your blog without having to think about all of this stuff?" "Yes", he replied.

I think its time to start working on these spaces, so that I can have intimate and personal spaces of my own where I can just let go, drift, and be myself.

12 thoughts on “Drifting Deeper Into Spaces

  1. I know how you feel, This is actually high on most bloggers wishlists according to an AOL survey I read a while back and yet few blogware does it.

    Have you looked at the “Friends” feature of Livejournal? They also have a Private feature too I believe.

  2. Craig, I actually see a couple of ways of doing this but all of them still don’t fully achieve the effect I want. The primary reason for this is that weblogs are not real time environments but recorded conversations that echo through the air of these spaces continually. In a real time environment, a single space can go from being a very public common place to later being a very private intimate setting based upon the time of day and how many people are in the room.

    Gaming servers (i.e. Half-Life, Counter-Strike, etc) that I used to play on in the past were a perfect example of this. During peak times, when the server was full, you had that strong community feeling with lots of people involved. Late in the evening, however, you might only find a few people online and they actually used the server to maybe practice game strategies one on one or even just talk about real life. The fluid dynamics of the real time environment allowed for this privacy and intimacy to occur. The home that you live in is no different. When having parties with lots of people, your living room can be a very lively place. However, after almost everyone is gone except for a few people, that living room becomes a very intimate space where people can open up more with the darkness of the night and the flicker of candle light. The question is how do you achieve this immediacy and intimacy within a blog?

    One idea I’ve had is actually creating different journals with different commenting for each of these different spaces. Therefore, a common public room could be my main journal where commenting is enabled for everyone. Another more private room could be one that people could peek within to hear what’s going on but only members/friends could comment within it. And finally, I could have another space as a journal where people can peek at my personal thoughts but comments or trackbacks aren’t enabled because the focus is just me and my thoughts. Even more so, I could just create a completely private and hidden room that only I could see where I can totally let go and just use it as a personal diary (but I still might let a few select friends/members have access to it).

    How you present these journal spaces on your blog would be another way of creating this intimacy. I mean if you have links to all of these spaces from your front door, then that direct access removes that intimate feeling. Instead I though about layering these journals similar to how information is layered within a site. For example, if I’m talking about a complex subject, I don’t plaster all of the information on the front page of the site because it would overload people. Instead each layer or step you take within the site, takes you deeper and deeper into more detailed information on the subject. I’d take the same approach with these journals with each step deeper being a more intimate and personal journal. For those who are passing by the site, they would probably only see the main public journal unless they spent time on the site and dug around a bit.

    The main public journal could be shown on the front door of the site, whereas the link to my personal journal may be found off my About page. Even more so, I’m thinking of layering my information the same way, so that instead of seeing what I’m reading, listening, and watching on my home page, I’d list that info off of my About page because it is more personal information.

    And finally I’ve even though about creating this immediacy and intimacy by only leaving comments and posts available for viewing or commenting for only a certain amount of time, depending upon the journal space. The front door common public space would be open 24/7 for commenting and viewing of the recent posts and even previous posts. The more intimate friend space may only be viewable for a few days or week at most and after that the post is closed for commenting with no direct archive link to it (i.e. You missed the party it was great!). Of course, people could still discover it and at least read about it via Google if they knew what to search for but they could only participate in it if they noticed it in the present time frame (i.e. the Now).

    Anyways, the combination of these methods could at least give the illusion of these different types of spaces but still it wouldn’t fully achieve the effect I’m looking for perfectly.

  3. BTW the Friends and Privacy features you spoke about with LiveJournal are definitely heading in the right direction. With Squarespace, I’m imagining dynamically generated views that represent each space with access to these views only available to those permitted within it (determined by the Squarespace system similar to how Project Comet will achieve their privacy). The key issue here is though is still the proprietary nature of the system. What if I have a friend who is using WordPress and is happy with it and doesn’t want to use another system. So he’s out of the loop? We need ways in which everyone and anyone can access these views without having to login every single time (and maybe a global login that allows you to remain logged in would be one way to achieve this for access to private RSS feeds and such).

  4. I found myself wanting to post my idea thoughts earlier to my WordPress.com blog. I’ve been using Flock the last week and enjoying its new found ease at posting a lot. 🙂 I did however run into a huge stumbling block when I wanted to post some content privately. Thoughts I’d not want the majority of people privy to. Lately, online, the more I write, the more I stumble into the same problem. I’d go even further than what your proposing with your spaces and rooms to adding pockets inside of entries I create, especially for the general public on my homepage. I’d love the ability to blockquote areas of posts with privacy on different levels, spaces, rooms.

    Often when I’m in the middle of a thought process I think to myself I should blog this paragraph privately somewhere else or should I just let everyone in on my secrets, instead often I never end up writing them out. If I could keep my current existing workflow and allow myself to embed privacy blocks my blogging life would be so much easier. That private data could later on be aggregated and even commented on should users have access to view it other than myself.

    Even writing this here, letting this secret wish out of the bag, and one I had planned on implementing into my own software if I ever write it. Has me wanting to private sections of it for those I trust and for adding to my own streams of thought.

    I’m only doing so because I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this and often think what the hell, better an idea happens than not and considering my track history I have nothing to lose. Issues like this have been on my mind a lot lately, its nice to get some of the out. 😉

    If you haven’t seen bloxpress.org already, it might be worth reading what he’s up to when it comes to being able to transfer a users preferences from site to site, theme to theme. While I haven’t thought about it a great deal as my focus has been elsewhere, I do believe that if you could store user preferences/streams locally perhaps using the recent Brad Neuberg AMASS flash system and integrating it with Javascript, you could effectively build up a store for a friendship network with sites that support it and the data that you enter on them. That data could later be syncronised to your own blog. Even comment tracked…
    It would be as simple as adding a line of javascript to add support to a site.

    I really need to write my own software. Everything I’m using always goes against how I want to work. Even this comment entry box. 🙂

  5. You’re the second person today who has said they need their own software. Mike Rundle from businesslogs.com just said the same thing. He’s getting ticked off and decided to create his own as well.

    As for how best to do this privacy thing, I’m still not 100% yet. Although I do know that whatever approach is taken it has be extremely simple and easy to use for people. The more complex something is to use, the less likely people will want to use it.

    One thing that you just said though, reminded me of something that I was thinking earlier today. It is almost as though everyone would prefer their own viewpoint or configuration of the software or sites they are using. For example, you just said you don’t like using this comment entry box. Imagine if you could reply on a site using your own client or website (and I don’t mean trackbacks) and YOUR site would keep track of the conversation for you. That way I could go to a section of my site and see all of the conversations I’ve been a part of on the web and see the replies to my comments as well (with replies including my name highlighted to stand out). If I didn’t want to track that conversation anymore, I could just click a box and it would stop tracking it. For this to work though, I think each post would require it’s own special RSS feed mechanism, so it could grab the ongoing comments of the feed (and the full text from the RSS post feed itself). Of course, it would need a mechanism for automating the comment reply. But since that would only help spammers, hardly unlikely that someone would do it. 🙂

  6. For example, you just said you don’t like using this comment entry box. Imagine if you could reply on a site using your own client or website (and I don’t mean trackbacks) and YOUR site would keep track of the conversation for you. That way I could go to a section of my site and see all of the conversations I’ve been a part of on the web and see the replies to my comments as well (with replies including my name highlighted to stand out).

    Nolland, that was exactly what I was elluding to me doing. 😉

    I’m through the tagging of content issue now.
    See my blog for that. Lots of good stuff today.
    And I have been planning on working on my Thought Streaming Software next. Integrating my tagging structure into that. Trackbacking inside of my own blog and things like being able to comment on specific trackbacks, comments that then become created as trackbacks to those trackbacks. With the option for me to subscribe to comments on that blog should it have a comment feed attacted to the trackback link. Those comments then appearing in my trackbacks.

    All neurons are blazing here at the moment. My brain seems to actually be working for once again.

    Fancy that.

  7. No worries and glad to hear about the neurons firing! Hehe! I’m hitting the sack early tonight though, so I’ll take a peek at your site notes tomorrow. BTW what the heck is up with your other sites, or is that WordPress.com freaking out? Seems like I’m getting a continually redirect loop occurring or something like that. Very weird.

  8. Wierd. Redirect loop? Might not have been coping under the recent Flocker and now Akismet loading. There have been fixes going on I know that much. I was getting email again for a second there again! lol. I think thats stopped happening now. Fun. I really need to find my own host with good reliablity and bandwidth soon.

  9. If you want to use WordPress, go with Dreamhost, as they have a one click install. They have an awesome admin panel as well that is very easy to use.

    BTW it was most definitely a WordPress.com problem as everything was fine the next day. Probably as you said an overload on their system due to Flock users.

  10. Thanks for the suggestion. I may eventually do that. I just checked and they do ruby on rails too. Awesome. I plan on learning that or expanding on my PHP. I’ve been learning some more about AJAX and can highly recommend the Ajaxian podcast. Have settled on using the dojotoolkit.org after listening to Alex on there. Now the fun begins.

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