Friday, December 30, 2005

Technology - Keeping track of everything

The Guardian has a story about a guy who has been digitally recording his life for the last 4 years, with the help of Microsoft.
If he goes for a walk, a miniature camera that dangles from his neck snaps pictures every minute or so, immediately committing the scene to a memory built not of neurons but ones and noughts. [...] Conversations are recorded and steps logged thanks to a GPS receiver carried with him. [...]At first, he merely scanned books and work documents, but the project ballooned, embracing the mundane and the moving: details of plumbers, of others he's met, sit digitally alongside letters from his children, his advice when they hit difficult times. Conversations with his grandchildren, his wife, are there too. Occasional musings on the world that would otherwise be confined to a diary now go straight into the database, accompanied by a thousand pages of medical records.

An early insight into a weakness of the system revealed how reliant Dr Bell had become on his "surrogate memory". The hard drive of his computer crashed, losing four months of data.

In a report on the project, he describes it as "a severe emotional blow, perhaps like having one's memories taken away."

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