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The idea of gathering a substantial part of one’s life experience fascinates me, as it has often inspired others

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013, 09:42

Fig. 1. Hands by Escher.

The danger is for it to become one’s modus operandi, that the act of gathering is what you become. I recall many decades ago, possibly when I started to keep a diary when I was 13, a documentary - that can no doubt now be found on the Internet - on a number of diarists. There were not the well-known authors or celebrity politicians, but the obscure keeper of the heart beat, those who would toil for two hours a day writing about what they had done, which was to edit what they’d written about the day before … if this starts to look like a drawing by Escher then perhaps this illustrates how life-logging could get out of hand, that it turns you inside out, that it causes implosion rather than explosion. It may harm, as well as do good. We are too complex for this to be a panacea or a solution for everybody. A myriad of book, TV and Film expressions of memory, its total recall, false recall, falsehoods and precisions abound. I think of the Leeloo in The Fifth Element learning about Human Kind flicking through TV Channels.

Fig. 2. Leeloo learns from TV what the human race is doing to itself

Always the shortcut for an alien to get into our collective heads and history. Daryl Hannah does it in Splash too. Digitisation of our existence, in part or total, implies that such a record can be stored (it can) and retrieved in an objective and viable way (doubtful). Bell (2009) offers his own recollections, sci-fi shorts and novels, films too that of course push the extremes of outcomes for the purposes of storytelling rather than seeking more mundane truth about what digitization of our life story may do for us.

Fig. 3. Swim Longer, Faster

There are valid and valuable alternatives - we do it anyway when we make a gallery of family photos - that is the selective archiving of digital memory, the choices over what to store, where to put it, how to share then exploit this data. I’m not personally interested in the vital signs of Gordon Bell’s heart-attack prone body, but were I a young athlete, a competitive swimmer, such a record during training and out of the pool is of value both to me and my coach. I am interested in Gordon Bell’s ideas - the value added, not a pictoral record of the 12-20 events that can be marked during a typical waking day, images grabbed as a digital camera hung around his neck snaps ever 20-30 seconds, or more so, if it senses ‘change’ - gets up, moves to another room, talks to someone, browses the web … and I assume defecates, eats a meal and lets his eyes linger on … whatever takes his human fancy.

How do we record what the mind’s eye sees?

How do we capture ideas and thoughts? How do we even edit from a digital grab in front of our eyes and pick out what the mind is concentrating on? A simple click of a digital camera doesn’t do this, indeed it does the opposite - it obscure the moment through failing to pick out what matters. Add sound and you add noise that the mind, sensibly filters out. So a digital record isn’t even what is being remembered. I hesitate as I write - I here two clocks. No, the kitchen clock and the clicking of the transformer powering the laptop. And the wind. And the distant rumble of the fridge. This is why I get up at 4.00am. Fewer distractions. I’ve been a sound engineer and directed short films. I understand how and why we have to filter out extraneous noises to control what we understand the mind of the protagonist is registering. If the life-logger is in a trance, hypnotized, day dreaming or simply distracted the record from the device they are wearing is worse than an irrelevance, it is actually a false cue, a false record.

Fig. 4. Part of the brain and the tiniest essence of what is needed to form a memory

Mind is the product of actions within a biological entity. To capture a memory you’d have to capture an electro-chemical instance

across hundreds of millions of synapses.

Fig. 5. Diving of Beadnell Harbour, 1949. My later mother in her teens.

An automatically harvested digital record must often camouflage what might have made the moment a memory. I smell old fish heads and I see the harbour at Beadnell where as a child fisherman brought in a handful of boats every early morning. What if I smell old fish as I take rubbish to recycle? Or by a bin down the road from a fish and chip shop. What do my eyes see, and what does my mind see?

I love the messiness of the human brain - did evolution see this coming?

In ‘Delete’ Mayer-Schönberger (2009. p. 1) suggests that forgetting, until recently was the norm, whereas today, courtesy of our digital existences, forgetting has become the exception. I think we still forget - we don’t try to remember phone numbers and addresses as we think we have them in our phone - until we wipe or lose the thing. In the past we’d write them down, even make the effort to remember the things. It is this need to ‘make an effort’ to construct a memory that I fear could be discombobulated. I’m disappointed though that Mayer-Schönberger stumbles for the false-conception ‘digital natives’ - this is the mistaken impression that there exists a generation that is more predisposed and able than any other when it comes to all things digital. Kids aren’t the only ones with times on their hands, or a passion for the new, or even the budget and will to be online. The empirical evidence shows that the concept of a digital native is unsound - there aren’t any. (Jones et al, 2010., Kennedy et al, 2009., Bennet and Maton, 2010., Ituma, 2011) The internet and digital possibilities have not created the perfect memory. (Mayer-Schönberger 2009. p. 3)

To start with how do we define ‘memory’ ?

A digital record is an artefact, it isn’t what is remembered at all. Indeed, the very nature of memory is that it is different every time you recall a fact or an event. It becomes nuanced, and coloured. It cannot help itself.

Fig. 6. Ink drops as ideas in a digital ocean

A memory like drops of ink in a pond touches different molecules every time you drip, drip, drip. When I hear a family story of what I did as a child, then see the film footage I create a false memory - I think I remember that I see, but the perspective might be from my adult father holding a camera, or my mother retelling the story through ‘rose tinted glasses’.

Fig. 7. Not the first attempt at a diary, that was when I was 11 ½ .

I kept a diary from March 1973 to 1992 or so. I learnt to write enough, a few bullet points in a five year diary in the first years - enough to recall other elements of that day. I don’t need the whole day. I could keep a record of what I read as I read so little - just text books and the odd novel. How might my mind treat my revisting any of these texts? How well and quickly would it be recalled? Can this be measured? Do I want it cluttering the front of my brain?

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Gordon Bell, Microsoft, Extreme Life-Logging

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 18 Jan 2013, 07:30

 

Gordon Bell

Microsoft Research Silicon Valley

Email: GBell At Microsoft.com is the most reliable communication link
Mobile phone & answering machine:
(415) 640 8255 best voice link
Office & Computer LYNC Phone: (415) 972-6542; this rings on my PC
FAX
only if you must: MS fax gateway(425) 936-7329 address to "gbell"
Microsoft Office: 835 Market Street, Suite 700, San Francisco, CA, 94103

(c) Dan Tuffs, Photographer

Gordon Bell is a principal researcher in the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley Laboratory, working in the San Francisco Laboratory. His interests include extreme lifelogging, digital lives, preserving everything in cyberspace, and cloud computing as a new computer class and platform. He proselytizes Jim Gray’s Fourth Paradigm of Science.

Gordon has long evangelized scalable systems starting with his interest in multiprocessors (mP) beginning in 1965 with the design of Digital's PDP-6, PDP-10's antecedent, one of the first mPs and the first timesharing computer. He continues this interest with various talks about trends in future supercomputing (see Papers… presentations, etc.) and especially clustered systems formed from cost-effective “personal computers”.  As Digital's VP of R&D he was responsible for the VAX Computing Environment. In 1987, he led the cross-agency group as head of NSF's Computing Directorate that made "the plan" for the National Research and Education Network (NREN)aka the Internet.

When joining Microsoft in 1995, Gordon had started focusing on the use of computers and the necessity of telepresencebeing there without really being there, then. "There" can be a different place, right now, or a compressed and different time (a presentation or recording of an earlier event). In 1999 this project was extended to include multimedia in the home (visit Papers… presentations, etc.).

He puts nearly all of his atom- and electron-based bits in his local Cyberspace—the MyLifeBits project c1998-2007. This includes everything he has accumulated, written, photographed, presented, and owns (e.g. CDs). In February 2005 an epiphany occurred with the realization that MyLifeBits goes beyond Vannevar Bush's "memex" and is a personal transaction processing database for everything described in June 14, 2005 SIGMOD Keynote. The MyLifeBits project with Jim Gemmell is described in an article by us in the March 2007 Scientific American. Alec Wilkinson described Gordon and the MyLifeBits effort in the 28 May 2007 issue of the New Yorker. By the publication of the book the final epiphany was that our e-memories are where the records reside and bio-memories are just URLs into these records.

He and Jim Gemmell have written a book entitled Total Recall: How the e-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything which was published in=n September 2009. You can order it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, orIndieBound. Please check out the Total Recall book website. Your Life, Uploaded: The Digital Way to Better Memory, Health, and Productivity is the paperback version published September 2010. It is available in Dutch, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese.

The remainder of the site includes these pages:

  1. Papers, books, PowerPoint presentations, videos since 1995, when joining Microsoft
  2. Extended Bio-- education, work history, honors... Alaska fishing and France biking
  3. Vitae: Listing of books, computers, interviews, papers, patents, projects, and videos
  4. THE COMPUTER MUSEUM ARCHIVE An archive of The Computer Museum in Boston 1980-1998.

5. Gordon's  Cyber Museum that has Bell's books, the Hollerith Patent, the CDC 8600 Manual, a talk about Seymour Cray, an album of supercomputer photos, posters about the history of computing, etc.

6. Gordon's Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) Cyber Museum has artifacts, books, brochures, clippings, manuals, memos (e.g. The VAX Strategy), memorabilia, photos, posters, presentations, etc. relating to Digital Equipment Corporation a.k.a. DEC.

7. Supercomputing and the CyberInfrastructure lists articles, memos, talks, and testimony regarding the various aspects of high performance computing including funding, goals, and problems in reaching to the Teraflops in 1995 and Petaflops in 2010.

Bell's Law of Computer Classes and Class formation was first described in 1972 with the emergence of a new, lower priced microcomputer class based on the microprocessor. Microsoft Technical Report MSR-TR-2007-146 describes the law and gives the implication for multiple cores per chip, etc. Established market class computers are introduced at a constant price with increasing functionality (or performance). Technology advances in semiconductors, storage, interfaces and networks enable a new computer class (platform) to form about every decade to serve a new need. Each new usually lower priced class is maintained as a quasi independent industry (market). Classes include: mainframes (60's), minicomputers (70's), networked workstations and personal computers (80's), browser-web-server structure (90's), web services (2000's), palm computing (1995), convergence of cell phones and computers (2003), and Wireless Sensor Networks aka motes (2004). Beginning in the 1990s, a single class of scalable computers called clusters built from a few to tens of thousands of commodity microcomputer-storage-networked bricks began to cover and replace mainframes, minis, and workstation. Bell predicts home and body area networks will form by 2010. See also the description of several laws (e.g. Moore's, Metcalfe's, Bill's, Nathan's, Bell's) that govern the computer industry is given in Laws, a talk by Jim Gray and Gordon Bell.

Description: \\research\root\web\external\en-us\UM\People\gbell\CGB on Segway 020405_small.jpgDescription: \\research\root\web\external\en-us\UM\People\gbell\CGB on GM Segway GM model_small.jpgGordon was with his Diamond Exchange colleagues at the Boulders, Carefree, AZ where the group tested the Segway, a dual-processor, two wheeled, computer and Human Transporter.  Since the test in 2002, he has taken and recommended tours in the Pacificia near San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Yes, this is a product endorsement. Right is the Ford SUV version

 

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H808 Core activity 4.1: Multimedia as evidence

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 12:34

How can you create and store evidence of your engagement with different media in the following types of activity on H808?

Contributions to online discussion

  • Select and export to MyStuff
  • Screen Grab. Date and name.
  • Export to word, cut and paste. Store on hard drive.
  • Note any references, when accessed and URL
  • Cut and paste into PebblePad
  • Title and tag for easy search at a later date


Personal blog postings or comments on others’ blogs

  • As above
  • Or leave them where they are with links to the page(s) concerned.


Contributions to the course wiki

  • Link to course wiki where current content, history and edit history can be viewed.
  • Screen-grab of edit page
  • If not self-evident highlighter tool of contributions made (though this is hardly the point, its a collaborative effort, what your left with on the screen may be minimal if your contribution was to edit) i.e. the history of participation is more important than words you may 'claim' as your own (which you can’t and shouldn't - you wouldn't have written them if you hadn't been prompted by others ... and ohters might have written it if you hadn't) by the end of the thing,


Notes and informal reflections written by hand

  • Scan, label, store and back-up (as above)
  • Turn hand-drawn mind maps into bubbl-us or Compendium documents.

But why on earth keep all of this stuff?! At what point deos the storing and collating of assets become a neurosis or obsession? What matters is the end result (though not apparently in learning). Once was a time you teacher or tutor knew you were doing the work a) you turned up b) you wrote the essays c) you could talk intelligently on the topic in class and tutorials d) you passed exams e) you submitted a thesis. Do we know need a webcam grab to prove we are sitting at the coputer? An image of us in a library taking out a book?

Examples of formal writing (TMAs, reports, etc.)

  • Copy and paste into MyStuff
  • Upload into MyStuff as a file
  • Put in a file on hard drive.
  • Back up specific folder and/or hard drive

Extracts from PowerPoint presentations

  • Screen grab, date and label.
  • Note any references.
  • Cut and paste selected slides, content and notes.
  • Download the entire PowerPoint presentation and flag the slides/notes that are of interest
  • Store as above. (hard drive, zip, url link, as animation/movie in YouTube)

Extracts from audio presentations

  • download as MP3 files
  • transcribe and store as text
  • store online or offline as a podcast
  • Store or link in podcast host such as Podbean

Extracts or screen dumps from websites or video presentations

  • download to desktop
  • store in any of a variety of video playback tools

Link to YouTube favourites

  • link or add to Flickr
  • Cut and paste URL with dashboard into your blog or elsewhere online.

Comments from peers and tutors

  • Attached to the saved document where the comment(s) occur as a file or cut and paste into MyStuff
  • Downloaded onto hard-drive and saved/backed-up to zip drive.
  • Save/export selection into MyStuff, label, include access date and tag.


Extracts from published sources (images, newspaper/magazine stories etc.).

  • Linked or flagged in proprietary webpage
  • downloaded as text or saved as HTML
  • Scan and load as JPEG in any photo gallery (Kodak Easy Share, Picasa, Flickr, Tumblr etcsmile




 

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H808 e-portfolios. Life Logging and e-folios

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 15:26

E-portfolios, good or bad thing?

Could they not become unduly burdensome? I have this image of us turning into snails with this vast aggregations of information on our backs (even if it is digital).

Are they for everyone?

New Scientist this week (16 OCT 2010, vol 208. No. 2782) puts 'Life Logging' into its '50 Ideas that will change science forever'list.

It all started with Vannevar Bursh in 1945 with something he called 'an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.' Fifty years on Bill Gates is quites as saying 'someday computer will store everything a person has ever seen and heard.' Somewhat over ambitiouisly (especially as it went nowhere), in 2000 I registered domain names 'The Contents of My Brain' and 'TMCB' thinking that there could be a place for an electronic diary, scrap-book, journal, album thingey.

I lacked the wherewithal or ambition to develop this further, in any case, I recall meeting the folk from Digitalbrain who seemed to be doing a good job of it.

Does there need to be a market leader?

Using a variety of platforms are not e-portfolios being achieved?

Some people look forwards, some look back.

Which kind person succeeds? A sparsely filled e-portfolio might be a good sign - they are getting on with doing.

And whilst I'm a fervent Futurist, is there not a place for real portfolios (artwork), albums (photos, including those framed and on the wall in a real gallery), books on shelves and files in trunks.

I recently found my H801 file, March 2001. Course work printed out, the few articles sourced online printed off, even a painfully thin listserve thread forum message thingey. And an assignment on DCode a CD-rom for schools that won national and international awards including a Palm D'or for Multimedia at Canne in 1998).

Had I put this online would I have referred to it over the last decade? Instead serendipty leads me to finding in in a box in the garage. Does an eportfolio facilitate serendipty, or is the process of loading it with 'stuff' going to be too prescriptive so that ultimately it narrows minds, rather than opens them up?

Old news keeps like fish.

Where does this expression come from?

Does it apply to course work too?

Even if I had an e-portfolio of what value would my old History, Geography and English A' levels essays be? Do they have more value digitised and online than in a file in a box in garage by the sea?

The brain does something e-portfolios are yet able to do well, which is to forget stuff, to abandon content yet be prepared to re-link if required to do so.

Time to quiz the neuroscientist me thinks.

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