Home » Posts tagged 'Bell'

Tag Archives: Bell

I cannot through words share with my mother our collective memories, I cannot do a ‘mind transfusion’.



Fig. 1  My parents – and a fraction of the record we have of left of them now that they are gone.

My mother had a stroke.

She would die within three months and after a second stroke very poor comprehension and ability to communicate will get very much worse. I cannot become an expert in care for a stroke victim overnight, but I read enough and ask questions. We find two ways ‘in’ – song and images. The images are never of people – various sparks of joyous recognition come when we are seen in the flesh and behave like children rather than adults in our 40s and 50s. I cannot through words share with my mother our collective memories, I cannot do a ‘mind transfusion’. I cannot even talk about things we did a year or ten years ago – I sense the time is irrelevant, she is as likely to recall her first doll as she is our last visit to the Royal Academy of Arts to enjoy Van Gogh’s Letters. A visit where she gently nurtured the interest of her 13 year old granddaughter, sharing insights between the letters, sketches and paintings from the point of view of an artist and art teacher and art historian, to a bright girl who liked to draw.

A mouthful of the food from the Fortnum and Mason’s restaurant might have triggered her memory – we did treat her to various foods.

What worked, in defiance of the medical reports that essentially said ‘there is nothing there’ was an iPad loaded with images grabbed from a number of hefty art books – 20th century art, the Van Gogh exhibition book and pictures from the Louvre. I spoke to that part of her that I might work. I challenged her as I showed the pictures to say when the letter had been written or why was Van Gogh so keen to tell his brother what he was up to. And what was the name of Van Gogh’ s brother? I got through Van Gogh and contemporary artists then moved onto the Louvre.

Up comes the Mona Lisa.

‘Where is this painting? We’ve seen it. It was so small?’

And she replied, ‘Louvre’.

‘Where’s that?’ I asked.

‘Paris’ she said.

Perhaps had my mother been in her sixties we and she could have seen a way to perceive with this.

Would a lifelog have got to this point in under 15 minutes? Might a screen of fast moving images offered in spaced-out way, with eye-tracking identify that ‘glimmer’ of recognition that would then prioritise images in the same set? Though who would know why a set was being favoured? We associate images with feelings, and people, and places, not with a set book or date or necessarily a genre of work.

Fig. 2. I think in pictures. But have to communicate in words. I wonder if a stream of pictures, as Tumblrs do, is a better record of our thoughts?

I think Bell has shown how we can freeze content from the digital ocean without knowing what value it will bring.

Perhaps from such an iceberg or glacier, at a later date, we can mine such event sparking artifacts that call up a memory as indicated above. But this artifact is not the memory and never can be. We should applaud Bell and others for going beyond thinking about such massive data collections, the ‘world brain og H G Wells or the Memex of Vannevar Bush.

 

How more deeply embedded is a visual memory if you crafted the drawing or painting that is the catalyst for its recall.

Fig.1. Hockney on iPad. Now here’s a lifelog to treasure. How does the master i-paint?

If a moment is to be captured, maybe David Hockney has the answer with a iBrush painting on an iPad. This is closer to the truth of a moment, seen through the artist’s being, their psychological and physiological approach to what they both see and perceive in front of them.

When we do we form a real memory of the actions required to undertake a task. We build on our initial attempts. The memory to ski, to dance, to swim, to skip, to ride a bicycle, to write, to draw, to pay a musical instrument – these cannot be caught by a complex collection of digital recording devices. Perhaps if the player wore a total bodysuit as actors do to play CGI generated character then we’d have a record of the memory of this experience. It wouldn’t a digital memory make – just a record.

The Semantic Web aims to standardize transmission and translation of information, is an important effort in this area. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 p. 220 )

Is it really necessary, possible or desirable to take the moronic  qualities of sports coverage and impose it on a person going about their every day and far less eventful day. This is the premise for a comedy sketch. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009. p. 224)

Fig. 2.  How we learn. Conceptualised in SimpleMinds while taking the Open University Masters in Open and Distance Education.

All praise to the blogger Mark Stewart but does such a record need to be entertaining to gain validity and so a place in Digital Lives  at the British Library. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009. p. 225)

Though remembering and talking through a difficult time can also offer its solution. However, these is a difference between hoarding the memory or keeping it to yourself, and letting it go. The wrong memories permanently on recall will be multiple albatrosses.

Take WW1 veterans, or any war veterans, some want to tell, some went to bury. Why should people in the future feel obliged to record it all, to have more than enough to bring it back?

As written language is such a recent phenomenon it is perhaps not the best or even the most natural way to remember.

Going back we had the drawn image and the spoken word, but never the absolute of a panoramic or 360 digital picture, but rather moment filtered through the mind and expressed at the fingertips as a painting or drawing.

Fig. 3. Web 1.0 invigorated by Web 2.0 into a water-cycle of, appropriately, clouds.

Weather systems and water courses, urban run–off and transpiration.

Here the flotsam and jetsam of web content, the good, the bad, the ugly and ridiculous, the massive, the moving, the invaluable as well as the ephemera, is agitated, mixed–up and circulated, viewed, pinched, reborn, mashed up, bashed up or left to atrophy – but it is in the mix and open for business. Find it and the thought, or image, or sound bite,  the message, the idea is yours to dwell upon and utilise. It is education, revelation and knowledge of a new order. Expect more of the same and the unexpected.

 

Date stamps on digitized photos are an irrelevance

Fig. 1. Current reading 

Throughout Bell and Gemmel (2009)  say there will be a revolution then on p.172 says ‘we will gradually adapt’. The shape of things is evolving, in different places at different rates.

The Arab Spring was a technology enabled revolution, the uptake of smartphone and tablets is not, it is a well defined diffusion of innovation (Rogers, 2005). The progress of lifelogging, if it can even be tracked as it is an ill-defined hotchpotch of concepts, kit and technology may already have come and gone, already surpassed by a myriad of services and behaviours related to these smartphones snd tablet and hundreds of thousands of Apps.

That a digital camera stamps the date and time – these for recall are the least important factors. What, where and who is far more important. What were you up to, where were you and who were you with?

Digitizing memorabilia is what this so called ‘revolution’ is all about, a kind of recycling with digitization in between. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 pp. 180)

I have emptied some shelves by chucking printed books and replaces those I read with eBooks.

The next step, courtesy of a Fujitsu ScanSnap will be to start to empty a lockup garage of books and papers – having a dozen unsold have written novels, screenplays and TV series will do my head in just to see them again, but ‘better out than in’ these unpublished and unsold pieces of work, certainly completed manuscripts, may even find a buyer. I’ve done one swoop through the garage with a digital camera just to see what is there – the hard back books will be tricky as ownership of shelves of books is something of a way of life in parts of our family.

I have bought eBooks so as not to be encumbered with some of my favourites and I find as a result I refer to them far more often.

This isn’t total recall or life-bits though, just a fraction, of the tiniest fraction. Enough to make a difference, but hardly innovative. What have law firms, management firms and accountancy firms sent the last 15 years doing? digitizing all their records and all their client’s  records. Big time digital repositories already exist on a massive, professional, industrial and institutional level, with museums and libraries following. And if not already, someone like Barrack Obama perhaps, will have his life celebrated in a library or foundation which could very well contain more in digital form than in print.

Five seconds is all it takes to capture the ambiance of the moment, writes Bell   some four years before Twitter launch their six second video service. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 p.188)

Like needles in a hay bale, I used to think, a decade ago, naively as it turns out, that the best place to loose important content was in an untagged webpage.

I saw readership figures, but spoke only ever to a tiny number of people – only years later did I figure that of course plenty of the hundreds had read about a friend, or themselves. And out of the blue, 33 years after a the event, a girl I met on a French exchange trip found me and asked if I would delete a scan of a drawing I had done of her – I did so, but know that various archiving packages grabbed this and at the last count some 100 out of 1500+pages which will in all likelihood be somewhere forever.

We know now too that indiscrete idiots who Tweet or something that may be terrorist related, criminal or libelous will be identified, arrested and potentially fined or jailed. Putting content online is publishing, just as it was in the past to get over a dozen barriers to have yourself appear in print.

I have this bizarre image of a lifelog that actually records the where the molecules that are you are and how they will always have filled those places at a particular time throughout your life – tracking these molecules after life is perhaps a duller and less savoury affair.

Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer at Microsoft, founder Intellectual Ventures, believes that only the software creator’s imagination limits what hardware can provide. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 p. 215)

 

The reality is that our digital world long ago washed over the concept of an e-memory.

Fig. 1. Tablets are the university in the pocket.

Bell and Gemmel (2009) need to imagine the future beyond the lens of life-logging and e-memories. What else will be developing at just as fast a rate. Where will Google and Apple be in our lives?

Fundamentally though, is this view that a recording of what is going on around someone forms any kind of memory at all. Of far greater value is how a personalised capture of an event, assisted by technology, becomes additional support to someone as they learn.

A student who hasn’t prepared for an exam is imagined calling upon all kinds of records to get her straight – would someone who had done so little and left it so late have any desire to go to this effort now?

Much of what Bell describes isn’t a sound e-memory construct either, it is simply searching, grabbing, downloading, adding links and collecting references that may have personal attributes to them.

It simply doesn’t wash that anyone would need say to refer to the way they dealt with a problem in the past when they can just as readily call up the solutions of a myriad of others. Anyone can imagine the perfect use of an imaginary service or product – this doesn’t validate it. Where are the patterns that show this happening in this way.

The reality is that our digital world long ago washed over the concept of a e-memory.

An e-memory or automatic logging is not reflection – the gathering process as Bell and Gemmel (2009)  conceives it requires no control over how information is gathered – the user may actually not even recognise the events that are played back. How could a sports coach possibly get a better view from a camera snapping images every 22 seconds of say a soccer match or squad of swimmers possibly make the choices or get the level of detail he picks up with his own eyes.

Instead of indulgently and obsessively digitising everything in sight like a 21st century transporter, Bell should have been constructing research based on the use of e-learning devices and software and giving them out to thousands of users to conduct trials. He wrongly assumes that his family and the passing on of family heirlooms is clearly like every other.

He hadn’t foreseen the creation of hundreds of thousands of Apps.

Bell and Gemmel (2009. p. 141) assume that this lifelog will preserve an image of a loved one we would want to keep. But when would we ever see them? They the camera. And where would be get, and should we have access to the lifelogs of others who will have caught out loved one in shot?

“Skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.”

Fig.1. Steve Jobs in Isaacson (2011).

‘If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away’.

Apple haven’t created a Steve Jacobs APP to bring him back to life virtually, rather they have created a University within Apple to teach the Apple Way as a management and leadership programme akin to an MBA and run by the former Dean of Yale Business School. Joel Podolny

Jobs quoted the hockey star Wayne Gretzky’s maxim, “Skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.” Isaacson (2011). 

“Steve prefers to be in the moment, talking things through. He once told me, ‘If you need slides, it shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.’” Jobs said.  Isaacson Isaacson (2011. p. 387).

Bell and Gemmel get it wrong on lectures. (2009. p 117-118) They make assumptions about the value or otherwise of watching a live lecture in favour of a recorded one.

Whilst this might replace sitting in a class it doesn’t mean that by replaying the video repeatedly the student will be any the wiser or even recall what has been viewed.

Viewing video is a passive exercise, ‘sit back’ rather than ‘sit forward’, Far better that the video is offered as an e-learning module, broken into a dozen pieces, each one different, each one challenging the student in different ways, obliging them to think, to construct, to research, to discuss with others, to answer questions.

I’d like to read this research, understand the way it was undertaken, and how the conclusions were drawn. I’d like to know what other research has been done in this area to get the fullest picture.

On p119 we are given the story of a 7th grade field trip in which students identify leaves of different plants in a forest and we then are asked to imaging 40 years later this 50 year old needing to call upon a digital recording of that event in order to show it to his child. His child, far preferring the psychologically better and warm lesson from her father would feel rejected if made to watch the video.

What is more, the learning, through communication isn’t purely as a result of looking at an object and hearing or being told what it is – the lesson is largely recalled for the emotional impact of delivery from the teacher – how they speech and their body language – were the enthusiastic or bored by the information they had to impart?

My biggest concern about the assumptions of Bell’s lifelogging is that if I take a self-drive car from A to B, a 45 minute journey, will I ever, if called upon be able to drive this route myself

  •  if I have never driven myself
  •  if I’ve never made the choices that would take me this way?

A lifelogging device is akin to driving on autopilot, there is no need to concentrate and without that there is no memory creation – so yes, you would need a recall device. And if you are behaving as if you are not there, why be there? Indeed, to fake it college students might hand their lifelogging devices to one student who would then attend the lecture on everyone else’s behalf.

REFERENCE

Bell, G., and Gemmel. J (2009)  Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything

Isaacson, Walter (2011). Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography (Kindle Locations 3421-3422). Hachette Littlehampton. Kindle Edition.

Mayer-Schönberger, V (2009) Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

Digital content, like its liquid equivalent in a digital ocean, has an extraordinary ability to leak out.

Gordon Bell

Gordon Bell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fig.1. Gordon Bell, ready for action – lifelogging for a decade

The biggest problem with lifelogging as it is conceived of by Gordon Bell (2009)  is that the camera points away from the protagonist rather than at them.

Far better the record of the person’s facial expressions as they go about their daily business as an indication of what is going on their minds – which is otherwise impossible to suggest unless a running commentary is offered. Though of course, the contribution of the running commentary, let alone the wearing of the device and its being on changes the record. This cannot therefore be an objective documentary record, as if a zoological research study. And then, what do you legally do with images you get not just outside, but inside the someone’s house.

This content is implicitly for private and singular consumption only, but it would pick up images that others could use in illicit ways.

Fig. 2. The Point, Beadnell. A memory forever for my encounters with nature on this stick of rock pointing into the North Sea.

Digital content, like its liquid equivalent in a digital ocean, has an extraordinary ability to leak out.

I don’t believe Bell’s attitudes regarding privacy are headed for extinction, but some people will choose to keep as much as possible private while others will go to great lengths to expose and disclose everything – in both situations there is for better and for worse. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 p. 213)

If 10,000 asthmatics revealed their health related lifelog in real time how soon would researchers be able to act on this? If alcoholics wore a lifelog would their drinking stop and certainly drink-driving be over forever? What a field day psychologists would have and what they would learn about all kinds of things such as depression, bipolar or ADHD.

Bell introduces us to a Speechome where a couple have turned their house in the set of the TV show Big Brother, with cameras everywhere. (Bell and Gemmel 2006. p. 114)

Their son hasn’t had a choice – there is a ‘total record’ of his development over this period. Is it right to use your own child in this way? And can a record such as this be called a ‘corpus’ ? It isn’t a scientific study, just a CCTV record. This is where Bell’s language is, throughout, skewed in favour of the system and methodologies he is expounding. He would do far greater justice to his actions if his record where the subject of academic study, the publication of peer review and therefore the release to academics of the record he has kept. Someone will volunteer this if he won’t.

Part of our era is the sharing and connectivity of information and the way it is transformed through collective experience and comment … even trailblasing many others to do the same.

Fig. 3 Stephen Gough the bloke who refused to put any clothes on – anywhere, ever. A form of obsession.

There is a character from Scotland who insists on living his life naked.

He is consequently arrested repeatedly. It strikes me, I’m afraid that Gordon Bell might be evangelical about being naked … but will keep his clothes on. Like an omnivore selling the virtues of veganism, while eating everything under the sun. Or will Bells 10/15 year lifelog be released to researchers on his death?

‘Most of us are well along the path to outsourcing our brains to some form or e-memory’. Bell says (2009. p 119).

Should we scrutinise this for some scientific value? ‘Most of us …’ meaning?

From a study of 1000, or 2000 people.

Who, where do they live, what is their educational background?

Their access to digital kit and networks? Are they representative of the 6 billion on the planet, or just a community of Silicon Valley Computer engineers? ‘Most of us … ‘ implies that this could be the self-selecting readership of the book. Who would read it if they could empathise? ‘Well along the path’ implies that already there is a groundswell, a desired adoption of these kinds of technologies.
On what basis is this to be believed?

Are there are number of ‘diffusion of innovation’ studies current in order to measure this? What is the benchmark? What are the parameters of the path?

‘Our brains’ – by what definition either ‘ours’ or even ‘brains’.

A living organ cannot be outsourced can it? This isn’t like making a donation to a sperm bank. There is no means to store any component of our brains nor has anything more that a gallery of images or a storage space for documents yet been developed. There is no electronic memory. Even if you want to call a relational database on a hard drive an e-memory it cannot be – no amount of juggling the electronic pack of cards will turn an audio file, a still image or video into the memory. Indeed, the only possible association with a memory is when someone looks at them and a memory forms in their mind – and what is more, anyone at all, looking at or hearing or viewing these records will also form memories. i.e. they are the enablers of memory recall, or thought creation, they are a catalyst, but they can never be the memory.

The idea of a ‘world brain’ that acts as a perfect memory prosthesis to humans is not new.

Fig. 1 H G Wells 

In the late 1930s, British science fiction writer H. G. Wells wrote about a “world brain” through which “the whole human memory can be [ .  .  .  ] made accessible to every individual.” Mayer-Schönberger (2011. p. 51)

I think to keep a lifelog is to invite sharing. It’s so Web 2.0.

It may be extreme, but some will do it, just as people keep a blog, or post of a picture taken every day for a year or more. The value and fears of such ‘exposure’ on the web have been discussed since the outset. There are new ways of doing things, new degrees of intimacy.

‘Obliterating the traditional distinction between information seekers and information providers, between readers and authors, has been a much-discussed quality since the early days of the Internet’. Mayer-Schönberger (2011. p. 83)

‘By using digital memory, our thoughts, emotions, and experiences may not be lost once we pass away but remain to be used by posterity. Through them we live on, and escape being forgotten’. Mayer-Schönberger (2011. p. 91)

At a faculty level I have twice created blogs for the recently deceased.

Fig. Jack Wilson MM 1938

It was with greater sadness that I did so with my own parents with my father in 2001 and my mother in 2012. While, by recording interviews with my late grandfather I moved close to the conception of a digital expression of a person. It doesn’t take much to imagine a life substantially ‘lifelogged’ and made available in various forms – a great tutor who continues to teach, a move loved grandparent or partner to whom you may still turn …

Source: wikihow.com via Peter on Pinterest

 

Fig. 3. Bell and Gemmel  imagines lifelogs of thousands of patients used to in epidemiological survey. (Bell and Gemmell, 2009. p. 111)

This has legs. It ties in with a need. It related to technologies being used to managed patients with chronic illnesses. It ties in to the training of clinicians too.

 

 

Is lifelogging a solution on the lookout for a problem?

Fig. 1. A hundred cards in a hundred days. Away from my fiancee I gave up the diary and posted her one of these every day.

I’m from a generation where we have a record in letters. Does a digital record simply enable more ofthe same kind of thing?

It is true that the worth grows as they years pass, that to know what you were doing a year, three years, ten years or two decades ago at least puts a rye smile on your face.

‘If you have ever tried reading an old diary entry of yours from many years ago, you may have felt this strange mixture of familiarity and foreignness, of sensing that you remember some, perhaps most, but never all of the text’s original meaning’. Mayer-Schönberger (2011. p. 34).

Which is why Bell’s approach my diminish the mind, not enhance it.

The mind reworks a memory every time it is relived – it isn’t the same memory when it reforms on a shelf in your mind. Whereas Bell’s ‘memory’ sits their unchanging. Crucially it lacks the mental context, connections and connotations of the person. Indeed, it isn’t a memory at all, it is simply a digital record snapped by a device. Afterall, it is a false input – lacking the filter of the person’s eyes and senses. The laziness of such a lifelog has serious flaws. Just because it can be done, does not mean that it should be. If it is to be done, then it should be research led, or as part of a problem solving, outcome driven project. Supporting those with dementia or cognitive disabilities, aiding those recovering from a stroke …

Is lifelogging a solution on the lookout for a problem?

Forgetfulness Bell and Gemmell, 2009. p. 52) doesn’t sound like a worthy cause, better to learn to remember, better to enjoy and use those around you – family and friends. Alzheimer’s disease is a cause. Parkinson’s too. Possibly those with cognitive problems. Could lifelogging be an assistive technology for those prone to forget? Does the lifelog to such a person become the calculator to anyone struggling with more the simple arithmetic? A prosthesis to their mind?

What might we learn from diaries and blogs?

Who has benefitted from these? What therefore might we gain from a lifelog? It matters who is the lifelogger. However, the lifelog by the very nature of keeping one, impacts on the life. You don’t want to keep a diary and do nothing. It invites you to be adventurous. On the other hand, it may invite you to live within the laws of the land, and moral laws.

Would Pepys have kept a lifelog?

 

 

The greatest value of extending our capacity to remember, both externally and internally will be to take a record and build on it, treat it is as living thing that grows into something more.

Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger on Napster's Second ...

Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger on Napster’s Second Life? (Photo credit: Berkman Center for Internet & Society)

Fig.1.  Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger

The greatest value of extending our capacity to remember, but externally and internally will be to take a record and build on it, treat it is as living thing that grows into something more.

If human remembering is the weak link, then perhaps memory needs to move from the brain to some external storage and retrieval device. By drawing or writing, we capture an event, an emotion, a thought. Looking at our own drawings or reading our own words aids us in remembering, making it possible for us to recall more, and do so more accurately’. Mayer-Schönberger (2009. p. 28)

Does a weak or false link matter?

If an author looking for material for a teen love story would it matter a jot as the parameters for the story would need to be met by fiction, not fact. Can we so easily make-up stories based on fact, if we are encumbered by the actuality?

Being selective though there are times when an absolute record may be of value – a surgeon operating so that multiple aspects of the experience can be shared, at a distance with colleagues and students.

An artist in their studio, working in a niche material and using rare craft skills not simply preserving their actions, but doing so in a way where many followers get as close as they can be to sitting at his shoulder? And of value to the protagonist, to identify mistakes where improvements could be made.

On the other hand, the act of creating your own version of events, of reflecting afterwards, adds value, adds originality and perspective, like the director’s voice talking through a movie they have made.

The real-time record lacks the context of the person’s thoughts.

These ‘inner-workings’ are surely of greater value to prosperity?

In addition, to personally make the effort to externalise events by taking notes, by creating a drawing or chart, or table … by translating the essence of the experience for others into a form we recognise we etch it into our memory. It benefits from the phsyiological attribution, something that will be lost if the ‘memory’ is gathered automatically.

It matters that we select as we go along, listening to someone talk, but only seeing them or caught by a conversation on another table as we are served, or watching the traffic and thinking of a cycle ride we had a child.

Memory creation is not as literal as a digital snap … and when we hear, as any professional sound recordist will attest, we filter out a huge amount of noise.

Mayer-Schönberger (2011) takes us through a brief history of how we externalise our thinking and touches on painting. ‘Painting is perhaps the oldest form of establishing external memory. It creates an image of a scene or an event, whether real or envisioned, and thus enables remembering’. Mayer-Schönberger (2011. p. 29)

If I want a record of events, translated through my mind’s eye, then perhaps a drawing or painting is a better way to do it than to write about it? Then again, a ballad might do the job. Either are preferable to a poor ‘absolute’ digital recording of what took place from the odd-perspective of my chest (or the chest of another) via a cigarette-packet sized gadget hanging around my neck.

A record of what I read and watched might suffice.

Why complicate it by creating a personal digital log of all the above where so much will in future simply require a link – so not some grabs of a text book as I read it, but the eBook, not parts of a film that catch my attention, but the film in its entirety. This supposes a record that is even greater than that experienced, but one which may be of greater value to others so that they can ‘live’ a life alongside, rather than stepping into the shoes of someone else. This may be a more valid and useful way for someone to pick through the digitised memory too – as a video editor or director, at arms length.

Fig.2. John Seely Brown speaking at the Open University in 2007

‘The emphasis, though, is on mixing and recombining, on creating a bricolage as the former head of famed Xerox PARC John Seely Brown has suggested, in which the value is derived from the (re) combination of its parts, not necessarily from the parts themselves’. Mayer-Schönberger (2011. p. 61)

Dreams of technology enhanced learning as a micro-chipped jelly-fish in a digital ocean

Fig. 1. I visualised the biological and digitised memory as a huge, translucent jellyfish.

It is a deliberate exercise to fall asleep with a book or eBook in my hands and in my head. This may even be a mid-evening exercise lasting between 20 and 45 minutes. It works if I remember what goes on and then write it down. There’s no way this can be digitally grabbed.

In the skin of the jellyfish there is a microchip. This microchip represents the digital record, the stamp like artefact that is a snap of time, a set of images, a sound-bite, a record of the creatures physiological outputs. The rest of the creature is what isn’t capture – the tendrils of the jellyfish the synapses that connect the bulk of the creature memories that defy definition.

It isn’t a digital memory. The visual or sensory capture is a fraction of what forms the memory.

Not is memory static. It is forming and reforming, diminishing, refreshing and fracturing all the time. To grab a ‘memory’ is to capture and box a set of impossibly complex electro-chemical reactions. It is multi-dimentional too – when I see the Royal Cinema, I feel a sticky ice-lolly stick on my neck, I smell the fusty, cigarette-smoke embedded chairs and here the announcement of the serial. And what I see is filtered through my mind’s eye, not a lense.

I don’t see it in high definition.

There are three kinds of memory: (Bell and Gemmell, 2009. p. 53)

  • Procedural (muscle memory)
  • Semantic (facts that you know that aren’t rooted in time and place)
  • Episodic (autobiographical)

Perhaps if I am going to wear a gadget around my neck it should record something I cannot see or sense?

At a different wavelength or spectrum. i.e. telling me something I don’t know.

‘Biological memory is subjective, patchy, emotion-tinged, ego-filtered, impressionistic, and mutable. Digital memory is objective, disappassionate, prosaic, and unforgivingly accurate’. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009. p. 56)

The first is a memory the second is not. Bell appears to think that ‘memory’ is an artefact that is capable of a digital record – it is not. Nothing that MyLifeBits has done is a record of a memory – it is simply stuff digitised. For something to be called a ‘digital memory’ then it will need to have the attributes of its biological and analogue form.

A memory is a product of our lapses and distractions.

It matters that we daydream, as well as focus. It matters that what we see or experience once needs to be experienced a second, third and fourth time so that meaning aggregates and our minds adapt. What Bell is describing is a massive, relentless, comprehensive attempt at keeping a diary. Would it not be more useful to hire a personal assitance? If you have the wealth to support it have, like Winston Churchill, a secretary at hand to take dictation? This has to be a close proximity to the record of a memory as it is formed?  

With the written word came libraries.

‘If you have ever tried reading an old diary entry of yours from many years ago, you may have felt this strange mixture of familiarity and foreigness, of sensing that you remember some, perhaps most, but never all of the text’s original meaning’. (Mayer-Schönberger, 2009. p. 33)

On Gordon Bell – his goal is nothing short of obliterating forgetting. (Mayer-Schönberger, 2009. p. 50)

I wonder if the quest to make an Artificial Intelligence like the human mind will be a more fruitful one that trying to turn a human mind into a digital one? That adding AI attributes to a database will achieve more, than by thinking of the human as nothing more than a bipedal device from which to record external goings on?

 

%d bloggers like this: