Last I checked, there were about eleven hojillion ways to declare your presence on the Internet, from Twitter to Pownce to your IM status to your Facebook status to your ever-shifting LiveJournal mood. As the number of declarations people feel compelled to make to affirm their existence on the Web increases, they begin to feel correspondingly overwhelmed by the amount of different appearances they need to keep up. What does it say to people if you seem to be repeating yourself across sites? Or if your statuses are inconsistent? It can be a lot of work to keep all this stuff up to date.

There are movements underway to unify site logins and even the network of networks, and something similar might be useful for statuses. MoodSwing and MoodBlast will post a single status line to a number of different services, which would seem to solve the problem of too many dangling statuses.

The problem with the all-in-one solution is that I don’t necessarily want to post the same status to all my different profiles. I might choose to present myself differently in my status line depending on the kind of people I interact with on various networks: relatively professional for work-related IMs, full of non-sequiturs on Facebook, tracing the flow of my day on Twitter. All of these services serve slightly different purposes, and simply mirroring the same status across all of them might make me look hobgoblinishly consistent. Also, I’m sure that anyone with enough free time to track me across all the sites I frequent would get awfully bored.

Instead of having one status mirrored across many sites, it would be better to have all of my different statuses aggregated into a single point, where I can see at a glance what I’m doing. Something like this:


[Screenshot of Presence of Mind app, showing collated statuses from many sites.]
Presence of Mind mockup. (Click to see the actual page.)

Statuses are sorted from most to least recently updated, and sized and color coded to suggest that the statuses I update more recently or frequently are the ones that are more important to me. If this was a real app instead of a mockup, you’d be able to update your status inline and watch the table resort itself in some clever DHTML way. Of course, while we’re living in my fantasy world, all the listed services would have open APIs that would allow you to read and write things like statuses without resorting to screen scraping.

At any rate, I think that something like this would be a nice way to maintain a sense of your own presence around the Web and give yourself a chance to meditate on your own public personae. If I get really ambitious, I might see if I can fill in at least some of those lines with real data, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you; I’m sure something else will catch the fancy of my online OCD tomorrow.