I had an interesting experience this week. A colleague I have never met in person shared a very special event with me using Twitter.
A bit of background first: Douglas and I live in different countries, we work in very different roles, but have discovered more about each other over the last few months through blogging (including our intranet), Twitter, Instant Messaging and a brief meet up in Secondlife, where we have discussed issues around the application of web2.0 in the workplace.
Back to this experience. Saturday morning I walked past my laptop, when a message jumped out at me from Twitter…
wow, Douglas and his wife are about to have baby!
I felt so impatient, I wanted to know it was all going well, I felt part of his experience. Then…
I know it’s not the only Twitter birth, but I’m a little fascinated by the the future of lifelogging (aka lifestreaming) and augmentation of technology with our lives so I asked Douglas what it was like to live tweet his birth. This is his response:
“My wife and I brought a laptop to the birth of all four of our children. For the last two we each had a computer. They are convenient for watching movies in the event that things take longer than you’d expect and for updating family with pictures once it’s all done. After three under my belt I was certain there’d be time for Twitter as well as plenty of other surfing–we still had no name and I needed to research some naming ideas.
I only tweeted real time. No backdating. So there was no interruption. The twitterverse missed out on crowning, pushing, breathing, cutting the cord, APGARing, and loads of other medical denouement. Which is a shame since I think there are plenty of folks out there–men and women alike–that have a Hollywood view of what goes on in a birthing room.
Lifelogging was my primary intention. For the previous three we used paper or nothing at all. Those scraps may not be lost, but I certainly no longer know their whereabouts. I suspect to a great degree these tweets will recede in the same manner if not more quickly and irretrievably. I’ll be able to find them when and if I need.
Truthfully, I am an incongruous mixture of ‘kinda cool’ and ambivalent. I didn’t share any of the special parts; I shared the process and the steps. The twitterverse misses out on the brilliance of her eyes and the astounding mass of fluffy brown hair. Nor will it ever know how long it took before she shared the characteristic ‘grandad pout’. I’m not likely to ever break the mood of her nested on my chest asleep and snoring lightly to hack out 140 chars for everyone and no one at the same time.
Serendipitously, I just read an interesting discussion on Privacy Line with Lifestreaming by Duncan Riley at Techcrunch (hat tip to my friend and mentor Jack Mason.) Duncan writes about his concerns around privacy when lifestreaming, Robert Scoble ‘s decision to live twittter the birth of his son and questions the boundaries of personal sharing using social media.
Robert Scoble’s reply to the post included this comment:
“We had dozens of friends who were following every tweet. Real-life friends, too. You know, the kinds that don’t blog and aren’t into technology. It saved us TONS of emails and phone calls cause everyone knew what was going on and didn’t need to call us to find out how things were going.
I’d HIGHLY recommend that other people use the public Internet to keep their families and friends involved in such life events like the birth of new kids….”
So here we find ourselves, communicating in new ways, able to share special moments of our lives and revealing more of ourselves to strangers than ever before. In Gavin Heaton’s recent response to my tagging for the “8 things about me meme” he likened blogging to a social striptease,
“here the writer reveals ever more pieces of personal and professional information until the readers have built a strong and even compelling sense of the author.
Now, my long term readers will know that I started out being quite reticent about my identity and its disclosure. But over time this changed … I began to openly write under my own name, include personal photos, audio and even video casts. Yet each time, I do so I feel like I am confessing something about myself … that in displaying, writing or “performing”, some element of my true nature is revealed. This is both frightening and liberating.”
As for my colleague Douglas, well I think his step in tweeting the arrival of his fourth child was bold, generous, special and a step for him in declarative living. Although, as he mentioned, he didn’t communicate every detail, mainly the process and steps.
And to think he wasn’t too keen on Twitter only a few months ago!
Note: I do not intend for this post to cause personal scrutiny upon Douglas or Robert’s decision to share the birth of their child using Twitter. That was their own personal decision, just as some choose to have water births and others have hospital births. I hope their experiences are examples of the layers of self we choose to reveal in social media and the ability for us to further connect with each other when we share experiences and events using technology.