Who is Canton, and why did he make this project?
Hello, brave adventurer!
Do you keep a diary or journal? If not, was there once a time when you did – perhaps before Facebook, before text messaging, before email? Are you interested in doing more chronicling or thought-keeping, either for yourself or your kids?
I created MyFutureSelf.com because I wanted an easy, private, inspirational and fun way to keep a private journal using the computer. I decided to release this service for free because I feel there's an urgent need to encourage more introspection and soul-seeking—not just "social sharing"—on the Internet.
I also wanted the computer to give me creative ways to review and explore what I write, like showing my diary entries as push-pins on a globe, or automatically grouping together entries according to the various people and places I write about. I wanted a journal that could help me to visualize the story of my life.
My Future Self is based on an idea I had in high school 22 years ago. It was 1990, so the idea was correspondingly low-tech:
"WHAT IF I started writing letters to be read by myself 10 years in the future? I could seal each letter, write today's date (plus 10 years) on the envelope, and keep the letters in a shoebox for safe keeping and eventual re-discovery."
Though I never followed through with the shoebox idea, friends have since given me back letters that I wrote to them in the 90's. Reading these old letters, I was glad to remember things I'd have otherwise forgotten. Some of the things I read changed my idea about who I was back then and even who I am today.
A related idea was shared by my friend Sawyer who told me he was keeping a journal for each of his daughters, to be given on their 18th birthdays. What a superb gift, to keep a record of our kids' lives so they can read about their early selves when they're grown-up.
All these ideas combined to make MyFutureSelf.com – a modern shoebox with unusually smart features for the journal writer. I hope you'll have a great experience writing in your journal and answering questions from Your Future Self. I appreciate you trusting me to keep your journal private and well-secured.
- Canton Becker
- Canton programmed a large part of My Future Self while dancing 1.6 miles per hour.
- My Future Self is a non-commercial project. For money, Canton makes regular websites.
- Jaron Lanier's book You Are Not a Gadget was essential to motivating Canton to complete this project. Lanier's manifesto cautions us that the "Web 2.0" / Facebook / Social Internet is squashing our potential for individual expression and creativity. Not everything should be social & shared!
- Navel-gazing journal-writing isn't all Canton does. He also makes music (and just plain old white noise) and runs SampleSwap.org, a 20-year old sound sampling project used by more than 150,000 electronic musicians.