Before you die, become a hypertext object

We are born into this world with a communications problem. On the one hand, I seem to posses an inner self. I take my self to be deep, interesting, and all-important. Which is the same thing as saying that I want my self to be valued and loved by others. I want to be known by others. This is pretty much all there is to being a human.

On the other hand, this deep inner self cannot be opened for inspection by others. Nor can it be transmitted into other people’s awareness. In order to get my self into another, I have to put on an empirical performance. I have to translate my inner fluid state into cliches, or symbols that people readily understand, line these up in a time sequence, and then perform them with voice or body. I can get myself into others, but only by sending them imprecise messages.

But before we can be known by others, others have to want to know us. We have to get in the door. We have to look good. The problem is that looking good is hard work. Different aspects of our self rise and fall in quality at different times. Because we change over time, our Best Self would be a hand-picked combination of all the best episodes from our life. Instead of telling you a joke, or emanating cool and aloof with my eyebrows, or passionately playing guitar, or showing off my Tinderbox mastery, I could just hand you an object that displays the best episodes for each of my aspects.

So this is what I was thinking at Halcyon tonight when I started ranting emphatically about how the most adequate form of self-expression is the hypertext object. To really get me, you have to spend time with me. Why? Why can’t I just hand you a list of my actions and expressions? It’s because spending time with my adds the associative links between my expressions. If we talk about dumplings I’m going to bring my my grandmother, and then I’ll have to mention the time she chased me around the pool table because she found a condom wrapper in the maid’s room. The associative links among expressive contents are also who I am. Content and links are precisely what the hypertext object provides. This photo links to this memory (text) and to this video.

A big ball of my (best) nodes and links. That’s what I want my public self to be—now and after my death. People want a machine to re-present them to others. A real machine. The Facebook page is close. The blog is much closer.