First Blogging, Now Lifelogging

Posted on Monday, September 28th, 2009 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Social Media

I just read a really interesting article in Businessweek about 75 year old Gordon Bell, a Microsoft Researcher, who for the past 10 years has been lifelogging:  recording his life via various pieces of digital equipment.  He wears a small camera around his neck (the size of a deck of cards) that snaps photos every few seconds or whenever a change in light signals a change in venue.  The device, called a SenseCam, is helping him to keep a digital diary of his life.  He records his phone conversations, maps his movement and scans every shred of paper worth saving.  And of course he’s written a book on the experience (Total Recall) which I am now inclined to read in order to understand the exercise better. In reading the article, I remembered my blog post about what would be the Walkman of 2009.  Is Lifelogging where we are heading?  Will home movies and scrapbooks of photos be replaced with minute-by-minute data files of our entire existence?  I guess the upside is that you do have a full transcript of your life and can relive moments that became monumental in hindsight - even if you didn’t know at the time of their significance.  For instance, what if you have a data log or photo of the first conversation with the person who becomes your spouse or best friend?  What if you didn’t have all of those ‘I wish I had my camera’ moments? Equally interesting though is the burden of so much information.  How to store it, access it, analyze it if necessary?  Or is that the opportunity – for software programs to be developed that take multiple personal data inputs and categorizes and classifies them in usable forms?  And what of the legal implications?  The article points out that the files/photos/data logs could be subpoenaed, much like the Watergate tapes and that lifelogging could certainly change divorce and other legal proceedings.  There is also the need for privacy guidelines – just because Mr. Bell wants to log his life doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone else would like to be a part of that experience. The bottom line is that the future will look so different than today.  The tools and gadgets that we currently employ (smart phones with video, photo, text; digital cameras no larger than your hand; interactive gaming equipment) will be replaced with even smarter gadgetry.  Can a process like Lifelogging help with elderly memory issues or fill in the pieces for the generations that follow?  Do I WANT to know that much about ANY other person – or myself for that matter?

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3 Responses to “First Blogging, Now Lifelogging”

  1. Camille Canon says:

    Barbara,

    Interesting blog post. Any topic like this, whether it comes in the form of real life characters like Bell or sci-fi movies, always makes me wonder how all of these inventions will affect our ‘organic memories.’ If photography already makes it difficult for us to distinguish between the memories we create in our brain and those we recall through photographs (try to imagine your last vacation without thinking of a photograph you have), what would a second by second account of our lives do to our ability to forget, remember, cherish, i.e. add significance to moments, if everything was rendered equally through the technologically indifferent hand of a camera or, in this case, super camera? I think I am like you- I question whether or not I want to, as an individual, ‘remember’ so perfectly or know someone’s stories in such an intimate manner.It will be interesting to see if it really is ‘the next step.’
    Cheers, Camille

  2. Ted says:

    I’m sure the government will be more than happy to help us all sift through our significant moments. :-/

    Also – Barbara – a fellow I met at the MIT Media Lab has been recording every second of his kid’s life from dozens of cameras throughout the house (also himself and his wife)…they have buttons throughout the house “Don’t Record Right Now” and “Erase Last Couple of Minutes”…20 years from now maybe we’ll all be doing this:
    http://www.media.mit.edu/cogmac/projects/hsp.html

  3. Uppingham says:

    It’s clear that you’ve researched this project in detail. After reading other like articles, I learned from reading this. I’m intrigued by your ideas and am in agreement with you.

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