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September 28, 2006

Capturing and Organizing Personal Information

"Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, memex will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory."

This is an excerpt from an article written in 1945 by Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think". To fulfill these expectations, Microsoft has a project called MyLifeBits, that wants to capture and digitize "articles, books, cards, CDs, letters, memos, papers, photos, pictures, presentations, home movies, videotaped lectures, voice recordings, phone calls, IM transcripts, television, and radio" shows - that is everything you see, hear or create.

The software "leverages SQL server to support: hyperlinks, annotations, reports, saved queries, pivoting, clustering, and fast search. MyLifeBits is designed to make annotation easy, including gang annotation on right click, voice annotation, and web browser integration. It includes tools to record web pages, IM transcripts, radio and television."

Iddo Gennuth explores the idea of capturing our entire life and concludes that we'd need 57 GB of storage space to record a day of our life, but the major problem we'd be to organize this information and to search for a certain detail. Voice recognition and face recognition don't work too well to organize our recorded life.

The idea of a central system that stores and manages everything that matters for an individual is not far from Google's plans. In Google Persistent Memory, I wrote that "Google wants to create a persistent memory for all your virtual belongings: your queries, your bookmarks, your history, and ultimately your files. When you leave a footprint on a computer, it should propagate to Google and become a persistent footprint, something you can retrieve from any other computer connected to the Internet." But that's still far from recording your life.

While for Microsoft MyLifeBits is just a research project, Google is much closer to actually creating a "supplemental memory".

1 comment:

  1. Another great post. Keep up the awesome work.


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