When I started Dandelife.com, I started it because I myself had a need for the site. I found blogging to be too un-focused. Ironically, I found that a site dedicated to the idea that someone can and should be writing about himself somehow less self-indulgent. I loved the power of blogging. But what I hated about blogging was where Dandelife was born from.
Blogging in July 2006, when dandelife launched, seemed to be about getting attention. Seen through the blogging lens, Dandelife is little more than expose. True enough. But what's interesting is that you rarely get true exhibitionism. Instead what you find it honesty. People sharing a part of themselves publicly that they wish to no longer keep a secret. Some stories are painful. Some, funny. But all stories on Dandelife share one thing in common: they are stories written for small audiences.
I'd like to think I designed Dandelife that way. I did not. I simply designed Dandelife to offer a framework for writers to make sketches of their lives. Hence the timeline. Hence the notes feature. What it eventually became was a bit of a mistake. Error by trial, you could say. I started with good intentions, then quickly got in over my head.
I had always wanted to find out if there was a way to write your story without ever writing your story. That is, writing for most people is exceedingly difficult. I've heard it told that 2/3 of all people want to write their own biography some day. But nowhere near 2/3 of consider ourselves capable of doing so. That's the need I thought I could address with Lifestreaming.
Boy was I wrong. Lifestreaming, it turns out, is more like exhibitionism. Whereas Dandelife is powerful because it condenses the audience into a handful of intended recipients (oneself, one's family, one's very close friends), lifestreaming is powerful because it's transparent, quick, and random. You get lots of noise with lifestreaming. You get lots of signal with Dandelife.
And that's how I came to Tweet one of the most memorable days of my life: the birth of my son, David. It wasn't a play-by-play. One day I will go back and fill in the details. But for now, I have a placeholder.
To this day, I got more direct messages for my baby announcement via twitter than I did letters from the baby announcement we sent out. The funny thing is, the people I consider to be my closest friends and family, are not on Twitter.
Most of the people who are connected to me on Twitter are people I have never met in person, rarely if ever chatted with online, and may only know me through my online persona. One of which is someone I met on Dandelife. She was a frequent poster at one point. I introduced her to Twitter, I think, as well. A few months after D was born, a package arrived in the mail from her. It was a very nice toy car that David is just getting old enough to appreciate now (a full 13 months later). It was a very thoughtful gift. And, to me, a sign of how much she appreciated Dandelife being there for her when she needed it.