What is a personal web
page if not a digital representation of one's self image. A collection
of structured information one considers important at the time of creation.
Looking back on what was considered the self representation, what image
was created at that age, how information shifts levels in the years
personal progress shows how relative those values and images are. With
time a full spectrum of past selves will have emerged tied to a thread
of personal history.
is kind of digital cryonics. Information that you try to preserve and
communicate to the future. Once you die what will be left in cyberspace
is a personal web reflecting something of your personal history. I see
it as a development of what historical photographs of ancestors and
passed family members mean for each individual. I hope my great-great-great...
grandchildren will enjoy looking back on these old time multimedia collections
of their ancestors.
museum also constitutes data for researchers of the past and future
of cyberspace. Styles, images, beliefs that bare the mark of trends
of the age as well as leaving a collection of digital selves of humans
as they perceived themselves in their interpreted environment at certain
ages. What will emerge is a digital cemetery of personal webs. The question
is if they will be hosted and how.
creating a personal web is a kind of meditation about my own life and
position. Questions of what is important, what is relevant, what carries
a value for others, what is to be exposed and what is to be kept in
secret? What does the projected web image reflect of your own being?
It is a game of constant re-evaluation of your actions and reflections.
process is a transformation of the ego. One starts with collecting the
bits and pieces of his own personality: historical biography, family
information, education, professional life, hobby and so on. As one does
so questions about the creation arise touching upon the most intimate
part of one's personality: What can one preserve and represent to others
of the self? How does content
relate to form? How
detailed should one topic be, how extended the information, where to
draw the borders of self-identity? What are the limits of the infinite
information that constitutes one person's life? Space
seems to be infinite but time certainly is not...
and organizing personal data helps to identify one's position in time
and space. Once collected it can be selected for distribution or concealment.
What is chosen for preservation has to be transformed to content and
organized in structure. But what is the structure? Every web is just
images and words organized in an artistic form of design and structure,
just like one's personal memory of things.
created my first web it was strongly hierarchical. The hierarchy of
the web reflected the hierarchy of my personal attitude towards things.
Things on "top" were more important then things at the "bottom"
so to say. The automatics of the tree structure were applied to personal
achievement and biographical data. This hierarchy remained in the webs
for a long time.
interesting in the hierarchy is how certain elements shift their position
in these virtual trees. One example is how my educational achievements
listed on top in my first couple of webs slowly started drifting to
the bottom and how others things like my professional life or family
life became more important taking the top positions of the tree. What
a perfect parabola of my very own life.
interesting aspect of hierarchical tree webs is that it splits the content
into channels. The information you dispose is diverted into channels
of classified data. This creates a false illusion of personal integrity:
as if any of the constituting elements of personal integrity could be
dissected into channels of "education", "profession",
"family", etc. This is completely false. Much of what relates
to one area of life just as entirely relates to other segments. This
approach to life and thus the representation leads to segmented self
need for expressing self identity is exactly what drives humans to create
a personal web - they want their own personal cyberspace organized in
a structure reflecting their ego. Personality and egoism are the two
major driving forces. The process can be however very transformative.
my first webs were merely about my ego - my portrait dominating every
page is one good example. The first webs are nothing else but a display
of my personal 'achievements', a show off of my qualities. This was
a useful stage, because it helped me collect my 'qualities' and also
helped me to archive what is now the Library
My qualities which I was so much proud of at that time now seem to be
so much less important. Slowly something began to transform so subtly
I hardly realized.
change was the realization of how reality can be "interpreted".
Every fact of life can be dressed up or disguised to look different
than its full reality. This also brought up questions about what is
a fact - what evidence can one provide to support the truth of one statement.
Cyberspace is a lot more uncontrolled in this respect than our physical
reality and an individual can create any kind of virtual reality about
himself especially in terms of a personal web.
was also ethical: how much should one distort the reality of things
so they look different. Although my intentions were pure and I was not
interested in creating a false image, my early attempts clearly show
how I tried to "polish" everything in my life representation
so they project the best picture. Every aspect of my life was exaggerated
and everything I have done was expressed in a way that the medium showed
more than the pure fact. This only reflects my personal psychological
state of that time when I thought that everything I done was very unique
and I was the center of the galaxy.
that slowly changed - I became more "zen". I was less interested
in interpreting the environment I was in, and trying to restrict the
database to facts. This of course involved the re-evaluation and restructuring
of my whole digital ego.
how hierarchical my thinking had been and first I wanted to discard
and turn away from my past selves. On the other hand I realized that
there are many fundamental elements in my past that I should not abandon.
Therefore I understood that restructuring could only be achieved if
one integrates his own personal history without evaluating it in terms
of good and bad or important and not important and embraces it as karma.
there were many outcomes of this realization: I elaborated my family
database with a genealogy and started opening chapters for family members.
In time I hope to dedicate at least one page to every single member
with as much information as I can gather. My intention is to create
a web where I can link as many people as possible and where the qualities
of others are also accessible. I have started including other people's
writings in the Library as one example.
outcome was the creation of the Archives
which is the collection of my past cyber-selves as they were. Instead
of discarding them as old and transcended, I have decided to build a
structure where I freeze my digital ego in time and make it available
for future selves to see the progress. In time it may also be a find
for researchers of the past of the internet.
further was the development of the "Timewarp" function.
This is an extension of the Archives, where you can jump years within
the topical framework. Accordingly it is possible to view one content
as it had been interpreted at certain stages. This also shows when a
certain topic was added to the web or when it was omitted. This function
is only available from 2004 onwards since adding it to previous webs
would have destroyed their original hierarchy.
the most important outcome of my digital meditations is the new structure:
where time is presented vertically, but no verticality is present in
the present. Horizontally the web is completely interlaced, based on
topical relationship and not on "hierarchy of importance".
Accordingly visitors can browse the content freely without being diverted
into channels of biased information and can follow their own course
reflects my own attitude towards things: I am not trying to place one
thing above the other or be anything anymore, but rather reflect the
many things constantly surrounding me...
feature I have started to include on the pages are the "Soliloquy"
boxes. These are personal honest remarks on how I see the content
from my present perspective. Very often these statements seem to contradict
the original, since much of the representation shows only the positive
aspects of the issue and not the full picture. This is my new line of
Zen. In time I hope that all areas covered will have at least one short
remark on their true nature.
is the result? The result is a manifestation of my digital meditations:
a virtual egotrip and an artistic statement, but also a digital framework
for archiving personal information. If nothing else, it has been a great
tool for personal discovery - and a method I strongly recommend for