Leah & Benjamin — who were patient and supportive for the long hours I spent researching and programming My Future Self

Jake Eagle — for brainstorming with me on many of the ideas behind this project

futureme.org — for trailblazing the concept -- also this is a good site if you "just" want to send yourself a single email to the future

Sawyer Fischer — for inspiring me to 'keep a journal for your kid'


Rebecca Kunz — for the hand painted, sketched, stamped, and needle stitched letters used in the logo for this site.

The Stanford Natural Language Processing Group — for some of the programming that powers automatic 'tagging' of your entries.

Graham @ Goat 1000 — for Tag Canvas, which enables the beautiful & mesmerizing HTML5 tag clouds in your journal.

Manuel Lemos — for the PHP Mime Parser, without which this site would be unable to process the emails you send to it.

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
    October 2011

Leah, Ben & Canton

Fun Facts:

  1. Canton programmed a large part of My Future Self while dancing 1.6 miles per hour.
  2. My Future Self is a non-commercial project. For money, Canton makes regular websites.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.