We recently moved, and a goodly amount of our boxes contain papers, pictures, and memorabilia – remnants of life. Would you want to have all of that stuff and more digitized and organized? It just struck me that I have been blogging for a year now – yeay – and when I want to remember what happened on a given day, the first place I look is the blog. But can you actually live your life if you are always looking back on the details of the past:
- A new Microsoft research project, called MyLifeBits, is designed to record every aspect of a person’s life to a hard drive — from photos and home videos to phone calls made, e-mail sent, and Web pages visited.
“This is a journey that we’re taking. It became really a quest to essentially cyberize everything,” says Gordon Bell, a pioneer in the field of personal computers who is heading up MyLifeBits. “I want to … essentially use it as my surrogate memory.”
Bell is digitizing every available aspect of his life — from turn of the (20th) century photos of his parents to a phone conversation he taped last week. Since 1999 he’s entered 10GB of data encompassing 100,000 e-mail messages, 2,000 songs, and 16,000 photographs.
If Bell and the Microsoft team can master the complex database required for such storage, computer users everywhere may someday have the capability to log their lives as well.
“We’ve scanned roughly 5GB of paper,” Bell says, “which accounts for probably on the order of over 100,000 pages of text.”
The software enables the user to design a rich, visual timeline of his or her life with text or audio annotations. The goal is to enable diligent diarists to be able to have near-total recall about what they did each day of their lives.
What will this do to memory – once the repository of all our knowledge? Writing drastically changed the way we use our brains – what will complete digital recall do to them?