Sunday, 9 August 2015

Storage is cheap, just record everything I consume (on the web)

In the long-run, once the technology catches up with the visionaries, I expect lifelogging technology to seamlessly be able to record a person's entire life into a personal database that is easily query-able. I'd be able to ask the lifelog (via my intelligent personal assistant) to remind me of every occasion that my friend Dave has said something funny. And the technology would be able to identify instances of my laughter that were antecedent to something Dave said (or perhaps an even more sophisticated understanding that Dave said something funny).

One of the things that attracts me most to the idea of lifelogging is being able to deal with those circumstances where you remember reading something, but don't remember the exact details, and don't remember where you read it. I can be surprisingly hard to find the original article with search engines, depending on the vagueness of your memory. And there's a great risk, with web content, that the content may have just disappeared.

One of the tools I use to record articles to address the "I've read something about this, but can't remember where" issue is Evernote. It's pretty trivial to clip a web page and tag it. But doing so requires action. It requires you to think "yes this content was good, I might need to refer to it later". Having to act takes time, and you might not always remember to do it. And further, your assessment of what's going to be useful isn't always that accurate.

So, given that storage is so cheap, should we now be auto-clipping: saving the full text and image (and video?) of every web page that is visited?

Possible problems with such an approach:

  • It might actually take more storage than I think, and cost more
  • It's incredibly wasteful of storage, unless the clipping service stores a single version, linked to multiple users
  • It may well breach copyright
  • Users may visit some websites that they don't want a record of them having visited

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