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My Personal Audio Heartbeat, Jan. 30, 2011

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So I jumped down the rabbit hole as Bryan Alexander and Alan Levine invited me to in their Web 2.0 Storytelling article (why do I see the Cheshire Cat’s huge, mischievous grin as I write this?).

I was inspired by Jonathan Harris’s “photographic heartbeat” — which he described in his TED presentation as taking a photograph every 5 minutes during a whaling hunt with First Nation peoples and as many as 37 photographs per minute when activity was extreme.  No extreme activity during the day I chose to take the pulse of.  Just a quiet Sunday with gardening, writing, and class preparation as WUNC (University of North Carolina’s National Public Radio affiliate) provided the soundtrack.  Disclaimer:  I’d have listened to DS106, honest, if there’d been any news.  There’s plenty of culture.

I decided to take the pulse of the day from the moment I gained consciousness (9:52 am ET) to the moment I lost it (2:55 am).  I took an audio pulse from NPR because I wanted to contextualize my day in the big scheme of things and what was happening in the news and culture.  I’ve always been fascinated by why we remember certain world-changing events in our own contexts of where we where when we learned of them, ie, when I think of 911 I see a TV screen in a media center in Mt. Pleasant, NC, and 30+ middle schoolers gathered around as we watched the images of the World Trade Center Towers falling.   We knew nothing would ever be the same and that we would never forget that moment.

We are continually encouraged “to live in the moment” but I also want to remember these moments.  I understand that some people are born with the ability to remember every day of their lives.  Marilu Henner of Taxi fame supposedly has this gift.  But, maybe I really don’t want to remember them as much as to savor them.  How can we do that?  A BBC reporter is doing something different each day and reports that the days go by much slower — that this seems to be a way to not make time stand still but at least make it more memorable.

Surprisingly, my slow Sunday, January 30th will go down in my history as one of the longest days of my life.  Checking in each hour on the hour at 52 minutes past the hour made me think about what I was doing and now a week later I remember every hour’s details.

So my method was to take the audio pulse with a few seconds every hour collected from NPR and also a photograph that I could add to a timeline of the day.  I used the Web 2.0 tool Dipity to create the timeline because it’s one of the more graphic-friendly I’ve seen.

I think that the audio heartbeat (I was careful to capture the nat sounds to give a clue as to what I was up to) plus the images on a timeline give what Harris described as “a partial glimpse into someone else’s life without knowing the whole story.”   I know the whole story — and now I won’t forget it.

Personal Audio Heartbeat

Click here for interactive timeline . . .

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