“Now she’s long…long gone.”The Black Keys, She’s Long Gone

When there are events in the world, the event and the conversation surrounding it unfold on Twitter, the entirety of the experience of that event can be much more rich and engaging and deep on Twitter…The challenge when you try to put these event experiences on Twitter in front of people is they need to both capture all the best tweets, you really want the best tweets so you don’t miss those, and yet if you only show the best tweets, you lose the roar of the crowd that really makes Twitter awesome.

Dick Costolo

I’m at my mother-in-law’s house in Greensboro, North Carolina. We arrived last Monday after a red eye flight from Los Angeles. My internal clock was still adjusting. So, when 8pm rolled around—or whenever it is that Sleepy Hollow comes on, I DVR it at home so I really don’t know—I wasn’t watching. My twitter friends were, though. The running commentary in that moment was more frustrating  than entertaining as I wasn’t sharing the experience at the same time.

I watched the episode a few days later via FOX’s iPad app. It would’ve been nice to be able to replay what my friends were saying when  they had watched it. But twitter isn’t built like that. Neither is facebook or most of our social web, for that matter.

Most tweets have a lifespan of less than 30 minutes. A facebook post maybe an hour. Instagram limits how far back you can scroll into the past. So, if you’re not on those services right now and someone is writing/posting about something you care about, you’ve missed it. I’m sure this seems mostly okay in this digital world that we’ve been playing in over the last ten years.

This is a world where people willingly, perhaps gleefully, dump their history as they jump from service to service or account to account. But, I wonder. Maybe we go with this because we haven’t been given other options.

Maybe this is why a service like Pinterest is performing so well. Pinterest provides the “river of news” but that’s not why people use it. People use it because its boards are memory books. You know what you post there will be easy to find later. It will be categorized. And everyone else is doing the same thing. Pinterest collects ideas, wants, and desires and stores them. You could use Tumblr in a similar fashion by searching tags or exploring an individual tumblog.

But who is collecting and collating thoughts or images around a topic in an easily searchable, inherently social way? How do I relive the Jessie Ware concert I went to two weeks ago via all the pictures, videos, and tweets that I know were posted because I saw them getting created? I’ve tried to do this several times over the last 6 months and have always felt unsatisfied with the attempt.

What about an important news event that happens while I’m sleeping or in a meeting? Why can’t I timeshift the social web like I can my favorite tv shows?

We’ve made the modern web ephemeral and, in doing so, I think we’ve robbed ourselves of turning shared digital experiences into true memories that have meaning beyond those brief instances when we’re all tapping away at the same time. I hope the next wave of big digital ideas tackles this.

It’s the kind of stuff I get excited about it in my own work conversations. 

Projects like Thinkup make me think I’m not the only one. 

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