Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Every Memory of Your Life Stored Forever – MyLifeBits Project

Gordon Bell

What would it look like if you had a computer with every single memory stored on it forever? You would be able to access every webpage you’ve ever looked at, every email you’ve read, every photo you’ve taken or been in, videos of your public speeches, records of conversations. Everything that you felt was important or not important stored away for you to review or others to find out about you.

Back in the late 1990’s Gordon Bell decided, like many of us, to start scanning and digitizing some of the various bits of his life that backed up in closets, boxes under beds, and filing cabinets. This morphed, along with the help of Microsoft, into the MyLifeBits Project, a virtual database of his entire life.

You can learn more about this amazing project at Microsoft Research’s own webpage.

This really has me pondering how much information I have and how much of it is really of value. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog about throwing old letters away only to regret that decision years later. But that was a value decision on my part. In Bell’s case, it’s the project that counts, without any value placed on content. He has decided not to choose what is worthy of saving and what isn’t, just merely to save it for posterity.

I encourage you to post comments here about this project. I’d love to find out what everyone thinks of doing something like this.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

2 Responses to Every Memory of Your Life Stored Forever – MyLifeBits Project

  1. Larry Lehmer says:

    Unbelievable, Stefani. While I haven’t read enough on this project to come to a final conclusion, my first impression is that it’s just much too much. I have absolutely no interest in documenting each and every nanosecond of my life. And if I don’t care, how can I expect anyone else to care? By exercising a little of what we called in the newspaper business “news judgment,” we can focus on those things that are truly meaningful to us. It’s kind of like wedding photographers who put every one of the 1,000+ photos they’ve shot on a website and leaving it up to the customer to slog through them and pick the ones they want. Faced with too many choices, many people just give up and make no choice at all. The best memories and stories we can leave for future generations are those that we’ve deemed important enough to preserve and share. To pass the burden on to our descendants by sharing every event of our lives may have the effect of sharing nothing at all.

  2. Terry Penrod says:

    I agree. The majority of our lives is spent dealing with some pretty mundane things that simply aren’t worth preserving. The details of a person’s day-to-day existence are generally pretty boring unless he or she is coping with extraordinary circumstances. If we don’t employ a certain degree of value judgment and edit out meaningless content, it all becomes a blur of minutiae.

    As all good writers, biographers and filmmakers know, storytelling isn’t just a matter of recording random scenes and unrelated dialog. Those elements need to be framed with a plot or in the case of documentaries, a central theme. The same applies to personal chronicles and oral histories.

    Mr. Bell’s experiment however may produce some useful tools for efficiently capturing and storing a full spectrum of content in a variety of formats. But without filtering through the material, organizing, editing and putting it in context, I fail to see what real purpose it serves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *