Flogging

Well, not exactly. “Lifelogging” in fact, as described in an article in The New Yorker (“Remember gordon_bell.jpgThis,” by Alec Wilkinson). Gordon Bell, a 72-year-old computer engineer, who was in at the beginning of computer networks and the internet and who now works on the lifelogging project for Microsoft, is aiming to record the minutiae of his life. All of them. The Microsoft “SenseCam” hung around his neck uses infrared sensing to know when he encounters another person and promptly snaps a pic of him or her; it also takes a photo when it senses that lighting conditions have changed. (He’d taken 1200 photos the day before the interview.) Phone conversations are recorded. Computer activity is recorded. And, moreover, records of his past life are being digitized and fed to the computer where the problem that’s being worked on has to do with how best to call up and make sense of this fragmented artificial memory.

(There’s a slide show on the New Yorker site that lets you see some of the photos taken by his SenseCam and some of the snaps from his past that have been digitized.)

And you thought plain old personal blogging was self-involved.

But there’s something beyond bizarre about this, something that bears learning about, if only to forestall it. When reading the article and learning about the technical developments that facilitate recording and compression of life’s data (“By 2010, a typical life, they feel sure, will fit on a cell phone.”) I was put in mind of the obsessive, almost maniacal, traffic in digital information required in the new legal world of electronic discovery. Indeed, one of Bell’s “insights” is that this lifelogging will in fact create a “personal-transaction processing system” of the kind that’s useful in the business world.

I recommend you take a look at the article. When you consider that millions upon millions of people are already taking the time to express intimate details about their lives on the blogs and Facebooks of this world, that cellphones are ubiquitous, that storage capacity seems to be growing exponentially for a given size and price, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that in a future we’ll likely see a lawyer will be wearing a version of this SenseCam every moment of her working day — and maybe every moment of her social life as well.

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Comments

  1. Simon wrote: “…it’s not too far-fetched to imagine that in a future we’ll likely see a lawyer will be wearing a version of this SenseCam every moment of her working day.”

    The billable second — the partnership committee’s lifelong dream finally realized.