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I cannot through words share with my mother our collective memories, I cannot do a ‘mind transfusion’.
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.
- ‘We are not made of wood’: Van Gogh’s apocalyptic letter up for sale (rt.com)
- What Van Gogh’s Famous Self-Portrait Looks Like as a Photograph – Megan Garber – The Atlantic (theatlantic.com)
- Automatically Augmenting Lifelog Events Using Pervasively Generated Content from Millions of People (mymindbursts.com)
- Digital content, like its liquid equivalent in a digital ocean, has an extraordinary ability to leak out. (mymindbursts.com)
Automatically Augmenting Lifelog Events Using Pervasively Generated Content from Millions of People
In the pursuit of pervasive user-generated content (ugc) based on senors, by augmenting visual lifelogs with ‘Web 2.0’ content collected by millions of other individuals.
We present a system that realises the aim of using visual content and sensor readings passively captured by an individual and then augmenting that with web content collected by other individuals. Doherty and Smeaton (2009)
- Lifelogging, like keeping a diary, is a private and exclusive form of reverse surveillance. Doherty and Smeaton (2009)
- Using SenseCam from Microsoft. Zacks (2006)
- human memory operates by associating linked items together. Baddley (2004)
- supportive of those patients suffering from early stage memory impairment. Berry e al (2009)
- enhancing SenseCam gathered images by data mining from ugc sites such as Flickr and YouTube. Doherty and Smeaton (2009)
- See also MyLifeBits. Bell and Gemmel (2007)
- A commercial lifelogging product ViconRevue. OMG
- Flickr has over 95 million geo-tagged images. (2010)
- YouTube has 100 million video views per day (2010) YouTube fact_sheet
It has a camera and a range of other sensors for monitoring the wearer’s environment by detecting movement, temperature, light intensity, and the possible presence of other people in front of the device via body heat.
(I’d like the sensecam to be smaller still and include a microchip in a swimmer’s cap, or goggle or swimsuit to monitor various other factors, including heart rate, blood sugar levels and carbon dioxide).
How the mind disects, stores and correlates the information if gathers is somewhat different to the linear recording or cataloguing of current systems though.
After her first stroke a patient found engagement when otherwise unable to communicate by looking at family photographs on an iPad. After a second stroke the same patient, deemed incapable of comprehension or communication, responded to hundreds of images of paintings she had known in her lifetime – in particular responding to the question posed when looking at one painting. Where is it? Ans; Louvre. What is it? Mona Lisa. (Vernon, 2012)
As sensing technologies become more ubiquitous and wearable a new trend of lifelogging and passive image capture is starting to take place and early clinical studies have shown much promise in aiding human memory. Doherty and Smeaton (2009)
Fig.1. A game of pairs – our minds are far more interprative, chaotic and illogical when it comes to visual associations based on what we see around us.
However, it is presumptious, prescritpive and even manipulative to assume that a person recalls ‘more of the same’ when visualing sensing or surveying a place. The foibles of the human mind and system is that noises and smell, the temperature and weather, and the time of day have a part to play. I visit Trafalgar Square and smell pigeons even though they are long gone. I visit Buckingham Palace and recall finding a woman dead on the pavement one late evening. I see snow and think of the broken leg I got from skiing in my teens – not snowmen. I see any icecream van and think specifically of Beadnell Bay, Northumberland.
The mind is far, far more complex than a fancy game of ‘pairs’. I have perhaps 30,000 of my own images online, so why support, replace or supplement these with those taken by others? What if during my lifetime I tag, link and assocaite these images? How might these be linked to another personal log – a diary of some 2.5 million written over a 30 year period?
There are research challenges involved in further improving the quality of the lifelog augmentation process, especially with regard to “event-specific” lifelog events, e.g., football matches, rock concerts, etc. Other research challenges include investigations into selecting initial seed images based on adaptive radii, more sophisticated tag selection techniques, and also considering how interface design and varying methods of visualisation affect users’ acceptance of augmented data.
Baddeley, A., Ed. Your Memory: A User’s Guide; Carlton Books: New York, NY, USA, 2004.
Bell, G.; Gemmell, J. A digital life. Scientific American Magazine, March 2007.
Berry, E.; Hampshire, A.; Rowe, J.; Hodges, S.; Kapur, N.; Watson, P.; Smyth, G.B.G.; Wood, K.;
Owen, A.M. The neural basis of effective memory therapy in a patient with limbic encephalitis. J.
Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry 2009, 80, 582–601.
Doherty,.R. and Smeaton.A.F. (2009) Automatically Augmenting Lifelog Events Using Pervasively Generated Content from Millions of People
Vernon, J.F. (2012) Use of hundreds of image grabs of contempary artists, Leonardo da Vinci and Van Gogh to communicate with an elderly patient after a series of catastrophic and ultimately fatal strokes.
Zacks, J.M.; Speer, N.K.; Vettel, J.M.; Jacoby, L.L. Event understanding and memory in healthy
aging and dementia of the alzheimer type. Psychol. Aging 2006, 21, 466–482.
- Can Lifelogging Devices Augment Our Memories? (techonomy.com)
- Magical mystery machine: How Memoto’s lifelogging camera could change our memories (pandodaily.com)
- With Memoto, Affordable Passive Lifelogging Has Arrived (refer.ly)
- Our Digital Selves (nytimes.com)
- Memoto life-logging camera delayed (but gains digital compass) (slashgear.com)
Fig. 1. A plethora of session plans – what a year of elite swimming training looks like
Swimtag today, skitag tomorrow
Serendipity had me click on Swimtag and I’m hooked – as a swimmer and coach, but for the purposes of this note as a prospective PhD student looking for a research project for the next three years.
Fig. 2 . Swimtag
My interest is in e-learning, sport and virtual assistants / augmented learning.
Armed with a set of swimtags I’d like to research their use with a range of swimmers: masters, elite athletes, learn to swim and swimmers with disabilities. We have all of these in our 1000+ member swimming club Mid Sussex Marlins SC. Early days – I have only just completed a Masters in Open & Distance Education and am tentatively speaking to potential supervisors at the Open University, Oxford Internet Institute and Web Sciences at Southampton University with a view to submitting a doctoral research project in the next couple of months.
My vision is how swimtag becomes as commonplace as swim goggles, then translates into other sports and other fields, including business, but also as a potential prosthesis for people suffering from dementia or memory loss so potentially tied into other data capture devices.
I am seriously looking at funded PhD research for the next 3/4 years.
I am interested in e-learning, so Learning & Development particularly for v. large organisations. There is a groundswell of interest in devices/software that enhance or support memory and learning. There is a fertile crossover between health – providing support say to those who would benefit from cognitive support, what we call ‘lifelogging’ – so gathering pertinent data about the world around you, then using this in an artificially edited form (using Artificial Intelligence algorithms) to supplement memory loss or to enhance learning potential as a virtual companion. Those recovering from a stroke or with dementia included.
It may sound like science fiction but people have been working on these ideas for a decade or more.
I appreciate that simply tagging vulnerable people who may wander off and not know how to find their way home is one way to support but I’m thinking about quality of life and facilitating memory and communication too.
- Pause (mymindbursts.com)
- Deaf Olympic Swimming Hopeful Marcus Titus Makes History (healthyhearing.com)
- Try not to push (andreabadgley.com)