At Microsoft, computer science pioneer Gordon Bell has worked with senior researcher Jim Gemmell for years on a project called True Recall, which will allow people to create a “digital diary or e-memory continuously,” something they predict will “change what it means to be human” as fundamentally as language development and the invention of writing. Total Recall: How The E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything examines the course of this development and explores where it may lead.
Based upon further development and integration of three already-extant technology streams (digital recording devices, memory storage, and search engines), the authors have worked toward this “third step” in the development of human memory for a decade and a half. A number of issues will need to be addressed, including privacy; the authors distinguish between being a “life logger,” with privately stored digital records, and a “life blogger,” whose Web posts are accessible to others (like friends or coworkers).
Bell and Gemmell outline the tests they’ve run since 2001, scanning and then cataloguing for retrieval a mass of personal data (documents, photographs, books and articles, Web pages visited, instant messages, telephone calls) and wearing miniature cameras that sense light shifts and take automatic photographs.
Readers of Total Recall: How The E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything will be wondering about the consequences of “recalling everything you once knew” long after they put down this fascinating text, of particular interest to techies, but clearly written for general readers.