One Human Heartbeat

I’ve put my heartbeat on the internet.

Jen has made something really beautiful here. I took a look at it last night before she put the about page up and was mesmerized by the pulsing. The progression around the circle. My breathing changed and I became very aware of my own heartbeat. My eyes wandered to the bottom left. Days lived. And then… expected days remaining. My heart took a dive into my stomach. I am going to die someday. There are two columns; and, every twenty-four hours, a day is plucked from “remaining” and placed into “lived”. I know this intellectually, but it has never not been shocking when I’ve been reminded that my time here is finite.

It being late, and me being kind of dense, I didn’t think to guess that the heartbeat was actually Jen’s. This is a kind of connection through technology I never even thought about.

The heartrate you see is from 24 hours ago. This is because the data can only be accessed via usb connection. Twice a day I connect the watch and upload my latest heartrates to the database. I’ve been doing this for 33 days now.

The delay actually makes it seem simultaneously more clinical and personal.[1] For one thing, Jen has to interact with machines to upload this part of herself into the ’base.[2] This is probably a stretch, but I think that even though it’s as simple as plugging in a usb cable, it represents a physical interaction between the biological and digital worlds that is both methodical and regular. And that’s a major part of how we think about science and medicine getting done. [3] At the same time, that action is also another layer of thoughtfulness and personal dedication to the project that wouldn’t be there if Jen were able to somehow stream her heartbeat.


  1. Although, I’m sure anyone doing this would the convenience of a once a day wireless sync.  ↩

  2. “’base” sounds way more cyberpunk than any alternative I could think of. Calling Jen’s laptop, “machines” was also for cyberpunk purposes.  ↩

  3. It’s also the part that seems to make us uncomfortable most of the time. Think about how often people fixate on the wires or tubes connected to a patient, or the beeping of a heartrate monitor.  ↩

Edna Piranha on Chat and Video

Imagine having a fixed time for recording yourself on camera – let’s say two seconds to capture your actions. But let’s also include the ability to associate it with text. Then you press send.

The audience now sees a looping image along with your text. They see it again. And again. They associate the text with the looping imagery. Now think about how effective this is in communicating a moment across to others.

Edna Piranha (Jen Fong-Adwent) “Community and Communication in Virtual Space: The Video”

chat.meatspac.es is one of the most interesting things I’ve seen in a while. It’s amazing how much of a difference those loops make compared to something highly similar, like the stills on facespac.es. Despite spending very little time on chat.meatspac.es, it’s easy to feel like you’re familiar with the regulars, and I can still recall specific messages these strangers have posted even though the conversation wasn’t tight or on any particular topic.

Move Fast and Create a Toxic Community

The people with the power to endorse and ignore comments are the people with the most deeply vested interest in Hacker News continuing as it has up to now. People who see significant problems with the Hacker News community, whether they’ve been quiet members of Hacker News for years or they’re just joining, have no power to voice their opinions without the active endorsement of multiple Hacker News oldsters.

Jonas Wisser on Hacker News’ pending comments

Such a mess.

Put HTML

So, John Holdun, Brett O’Connor, and Casey Kolderup have made a pretty fun thing in Put HTML, which I described as “Just a place to put internet.” It was totally endorsed by Brett as being accurate.

Boom!

I was going to make a joke about getting rid of separate stylesheet’s, but apparently you can link files. These guys are good.

<3 Rusty. <3 Choire.

I love everybody. Everybody I follow is my favorite people. I don’t follow any people I don’t like.

- Rusty Foster: What I Read

Rusty Foster is basically one of the most fun people on Twitter. If you’re not reading Today in Tabs, you should be. But geez, growl notifications for every tweet?!

These media diet posts are pretty fun. Choire Sicha did something similar (minus telling us what he reads) for Full Stop. The whole thing is immensely quotable, and reading it creates this great feeling of playing jump rope with the line between keen insights and hard trolling.

QFP (Quote For Proof)

I guess I think that writing becomes significant through labor. The cherished things online, whether they be profitable or not, clearly spring from a place of great effort, even if in the end that effort is, as it usually should be, invisible.

Talks That Stick

My best advice would be to speak about something you know. And maybe also to cover your approach to solving a problem and your thinking or process, instead of technical matter.

I’m not sure that people get a ton out of technical talks or that they can really absorb all of the content from any talk, but a great way not to waste someone’s time is to share your experience with them.

I love hear people’s stories, especially those where they faced obstacles and overcame them.

- Julie Ann Horvath, “So You Wanna Give a Talk”

This is absolutely the best advice for giving a talk.