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The e-memory revolution is changing everything.

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Lifestream Backup rescues your stranded e-memories

In Total Recall, we bemoan web sites that have a stranglehold on your online e-memories. If it is not easy to make a copy of everything they store, then you are at the site’s mercy to retain your e-memories. Sites go out of business, or may just be sloppy with your data and lose some. Then, it is goodbye blog post, email, bookmark and so on. A manual process for each item would be way too much work to be practical; it must be one-step for a full backup, or, even better, fully automatic.

Enter the entrepreneurs. Lifestream Backup makes a backup of your online life at facebook, twitter, wordpress, photobucket, and more. You provide your login credentials for each service, and then they make regular backups, sending you an email to confirm when each backup is complete. They use Amazon S3 to store the backup, and also allow you to download the backup to your PC for extra protection.

Hat tip to cnet


Digital textbooks and student e-memory

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is advocating digital textbooks. E-texts are a great idea, for many reasons. No more heavy backpacks stuffed with books. Texts could be easily and frequently updated. Language text books could play audio clips. You could e-highlight and quickly re-find key passages by searching. E-texts could also include hyperlinks, so that when you are looking at a new math topic you would have a quick link back to an older supporting topic you had forgotten about.

Once students are carrying e-text devices to every class, there is a unique opportunity to take learning to the next level. After all, that e-text device could easily record audio, pictures, video, and typing - and should support pen-based input, too. It should become the ultimate digital student notebook as well, recording everything they ever learn. Lectures, chemistry labs, articles – they can all go in the student’s e-memory.

The governator’s idea is even more powerful than he realizes.

Hat tip: East Bay Homework Blog


Lifelogging and 24x7 video

Soon you will be able, if you choose, to record every moment of your life. That's the basic premise behind Total Recall. When people hear this, they immediately think of rolling video 24x7. While that will be possible, I think video (and audio) recording will remain limited for a long time as society works out the issues. But some other aspects of life-logging will gain traction quickly. How about having every word you have ever read in your life only a few keystrokes away? Or a map of every place you visited on your summer vacation, with the detail of each street you walked down, and the exact time? Or a exhaustive record of your health? These are just a few of the great applications of life-logging discussed in the book that I believe will immediately gain acceptance and lead to tremendous changes in learning, work, healthcare, and more.

That said, “limited” video recording in the coming decade will represent a radical change. Instead of 24x7, suppose you had only around ten minutes a day of video over the course of your life. Suppose a lot of the video was little 5-second “cliplets” looking around a room, catching a friend laughing, or having the kids say hello. Suppose vacations and birthday parties have relatively more clips, and maybe they’re a little longer, say, a minute or two. You play sports, and your games are recorded, with your highlight-reel moments flagged. Now, compared to 24x7 lifelong recording, that’s still pretty skimpy. But compared to the record of virtually any person from the twentieth century it is an absolute windfall of memories. What I wouldn’t give for even one minute a day of my grandfather’s life.

The ability to record everything, even if not completely exploited, will still lead to a revolution in our lives.


Why did you start recording everything? 

Why are you recording everything?—has been a question from the start. It depends who’s asking and when they asked. In the beginning, when I wasn’t sure why, the technology answer was -- “because we can”. Furthermore, in a decade, disks will be a terabyte and this will enable the storage of entire lifetime of everything we can hear and see, at least at a low resolution.


The actual project seed was Raj Reddy’s call from CMU to use the books I’d written as guinea pigs for the Million Book Project. As we describe in chapter 2 this triggered scanning articles I’d written before the professional organizations decided to digitize them. Shortly after starting this decade long project, my boss and mentor, Jim Gray, observed “There are a lot of interesting questions about recording everything. You’re in research. You should try to answer some of them.” In 2009 there are many answers to “why?” that are intertwined with a belief that having everything in your life in cyberspace is the inevitable, constant, quest of personal computing evolution. So everyone will ultimatly have their lives in cyberspace.


Going paperless by never storing or transmitting paper has been a long-term goal. Encoding desk and office chachkas, collectables, ephemera, and memorabilia gets rid of most of the rest of office clutter. “Less” equates to a “green technology”. Just having life’s working bits including pesky bills, wills, medical records, and even manuals accessible anywhere all the time, means that I can live and work anywhere.

When the screen saver started showing pictures from its e-memory then ambience and bio-memory refresh rationalize the effort that ultimately becomes part of one’s immortality.

Thad Starner, who has consistently transcribed his conversations in real time using a Twiddler keyboard the longest agrees—saving everything in e-memory to aid our bio-memories is the most important reason to capture everything. The idea of a permanent, infallible e-memory as the most important "why" escaped Thad, Jim, and me for a long time because we have become so dependent on our e-memories.


The confidence and freedom of having help to remember is quite wonderful. Indeed we've come to think of the partnership: bio-memory has the meta-data or in essence, a URL, to our e-memory where the records, facts, and truths are held.

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