Your entire life … stored on a hard drive

Web 2.0 is often championed, and derided, for its power to reinvent or repackage yourself into a more appealing persona online. Our Facebook profiles, Twitter feeds, and video game avatars are carefully managed collections of our real world identities. We post information all the time, but usually only the things that project the personal image and experiences we want the world to see.

But what if the age of “always-on” Internet took this trend of semi-fictional identities back in the other direction? What if it actively prevented the act of inflating our real selves, or put a halt to the time-honored tradition of spinning dull memories into lively stories?

This would be the result if the ever-growing trend of lifecasting reaches it’s logical conclusion — cameras documenting and storing every moment of your life.

As we learned in class today, this possibility is not far off with regards to technology. It will soon be affordable to own enough data storage space to house every conservation in a lifetime. Wearable devices with tiny cameras should also be available to the general public within the next few years, making it possible to record and then archive every single moment.

Imagine how this would fundamentally warp the concept of memory. Last week my class visited a living museum to find physical symbols linking to our abstract memories. This week a different class teaches us that this whole process could be obsolete. Instead of unlocking past experiences in the deep corners of our minds, we just type in a time and date and watch the recorded footage word-for-word.

An informal poll of the class indicated a strong aversion for this method. Why would we want to dull our personal history by recording it in all its mundane detail? Why would we want to ever rewatch those experiences?

But already people record and share every bit of info they can on their children. When talking about our own youth, we often share a longing to relive a wonderful memory of a special moment, or go back and appreciate something we took for granted the first time around.

Recording an entire life holds that potential, and it will be interesting to see how popular this option becomes once the technology makes it possible. With those recordings comes the security that no part of life will ever fade or be forgotten. But the interpretive quality of memory that makes it so romantic a concept in the first place would be unequivocably lost in the process

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  1. There was a movie that Robin Williams starred in, I believe it was titled “The Final Cut”, which explores these ideas. In the movie, all you see and hear is recorded by way of an implanted microchip, and when you die the footage is crafted into a short tribute movie to be shown at your funeral. Scary stuff. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d rather keep my memories in the distorted, romanticised versions that time molds them to be.

  1. September 30th, 2009

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