I punched the button on a website tonight and saw a map of a year long emotional and physical journey into Community.
Thanks to the skill and generosity of Damon Cortesi and his smart website I can see beginning in the spring of 2007 my discovery of a new world thanks to twitter.
Before I found myself in a hospital bed with a stroke diagnosis the weekend of September 8th 2007, my twitter journey was all pretty predictable.
Looking back, and with the help of the graph which gives a clear picture of my reticence, it seems that I took baby steps and felt my way. Entering a new community, the pattern of colors says that learning about interaction and people came first.
The Opportunity of Association
Meeting people led to working with the Electric Sheep and the Metanomics Series in Second Life, giving me opportunities to interact more. I see that in red and purple bars in the chart.
It was a time of slowly opening up, forming loose associations, then deeper ones.
And then the stroke, as small as it was, made me doubt my abilities to do that.
That part of the picture is hard for me to look at but also hard to miss. The graph from tweetstats plots out for me, I see a painful picture of myself.
The struggle with misplacing words, using spatial skills and feeling scared shows there is a dismal grey blob - shrinking somehow on the graph like I felt at the time. And then just as clearly comes my increasing efforts to test my abilities in the month following.
I needed some time, And then I needed some practice. I needed to focus.
And through the fall the twitter community nurtured me in that, forgave my lapses, encouraged my efforts.
What Elephant In The Room?
And then it gets red. And all I see is RED. The big red block is called cancer. And that's undeniable.
It happened in January. And it was like a dam bursting.
Both the sudden cancer diagnosis I received on December 7th and the twitter community's reaching out to me in such a generous way had stunned me.
I tweeted answers to questions and messages of thanks.
I tweeted silliness to relieve the worry and updates to try to inform.
I tweeted to a seemingly endless array of good people during long nights.
I tweeted because I was alive.
I tweeted because people who cared were there.
It's truly a picture of the highs and the lows.
Graphic evidence never spoke to me this way before. A new world just showed its face. And the paths of our lives - divorces, births, job changes, moves, crisis, and joys - could be available to us all with the touch of a button. Truths and realities come in different wrappings in 2008.
How unexpected to see one's emotional life displayed in a graph that's really designed to show something else altogether.
So I'll be watching to see my future as it plays out by way of bars of color generated by an impersonal machine, but made possible by someone who cared enough to give us the gift.
For me - it's a sort of map of myself. And it's something I find oddly reassuring.