The New Next: Our Lives As Open Books

Documenting our lives once meant keeping secret diaries. We would typically write in them at night, detailing things that happened during the day. A little later, people began carrying blank books and journals around with them, periodically updating them throughout the day. In the mid-1990s, the Internet helped us keep these diaries online, for our friends to read.

Now the blogosphere - writing to not only our friends but to the world - is busier than ever. According to Technorati (essentially a search site that tracks more than 70 million blogs), there are about 120,000 new blogs created every day as of this April. That's roughly 1.4 blogs per second. Some people even use blogging as their primary source of income, like Heather B. Armstrong of fame. Blogging hasn't just spawned new behaviors, it's also given rise to new technologies that have, in turn, catalyzed yet more new online activities.

So what is the natural new next in logging? Why, blogging in real-time as things are happening, of course. Most of what we document and write about happens when we are living life beyond the confines of where we write. Well, we now have devices and applications that emancipate us to live life live for everyone else while we are experiencing it.

>>Twitter With a limit of 140 characters per entry, Twitter's short-form blogging site simply asks the question, "What are you doing?" Members are able to update via the Web site, instant message, widget or SMS. It has gotten to the point where Twitter is now used as a verb and is one of the most addictive behaviors on the Net. Groups of friends from a myriad of places talk to each other in real time, no matter where they are or what they're doing. It's no wonder Twitter won the 2007 South by Southwest Web Award in the blog category. (

>>Dodgeball It starts with a similar question to Twitter's. "Where are you?" Text them with your location, and Dodgeball will message all of your friends with the information, in case someone you know is in the area. Dodgeball makes meeting new people easy as well: It will find the friends of your friends within ten blocks and message you with their locations too. (

>>Helio Buddy Beacon Requiring less effort than Dodgeball, Helio's Buddy Beacon service utilizes GPS technology to let you know exactly where your friends are located at any given time. There's a privacy option so people can turn it off when they don't want to be findable. (

>>Flickr The photo-hosting Web site joined the conversation months ago when the Flickr folks made it possible to e-mail your camera phone pictures directly to your account. But with the help of clients for uploading photos (like the Flickr client on Nokia's Nseries devices), you can add captions, tags and check for comments in a matter of minutes. (

Real-time documentation has led to a fundamental shift in how we talk to each other. It feels almost counterintuitive for me to be writing about this in a column that won't be published for another six weeks.

I'm Twittering this.

Written by Johanna Beyenbach, associate strategist, and curated by Paul Woolmington, Naked Communications. ( and

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