Gordon Bell and MyLifeBits in Levy’s article “This Is Your Life, Every Bit of It!”

This in a recent Newsweek magazine, Steven Levy’s article “This Is Your Life, Every Bit of It!” with a look at individuals (such as Gordon Bell) who are working on “capturing everything [they] see and hear… a Pandora’s box for the digital age.”

“Since 2001, Gordon Bell, a 72-year-old computing legend now at Microsoft Research, has been heading a project called “My Life Bits.” The idea is to accumulate a definitive record of one’s life, from images and sounds captured by a “SenseCam,” to phone calls, e-mail, Web searches and so on—and then to develop techniques to search those disparate media on demand. You won’t be surprised to hear that Google is also developing its own solutions to searching video and audio. And a start-up called Ustream (now in beta) lets anyone do Webcasts live—sort of lite.”

And, for reference, this on Bell’s MyLifeBits…

“He is putting all of his atom- and electron-based bits in his local Cyberspace. It is called by MyLifeBits the successor to the Cyber All project. This includes everything he has accumulated, written, photographed, presented, and owns (e.g. CDs). In February 2005 an epiphany occurred with the realization that MyLifeBits goes beyond Vannevar Bush’s “memex” and is a personal transaction processing database for everything described in June 14, 2005 SIGMOD Keynote.”

As noted in a previous entry, see “How To Build Your Own version of Gordon Bell’s “MyLifeBits” (Wired)” Wired, Nov 2006. See the complete article “A head for detail.” 

At home, we’ve attempted our own small slice of MyLifeBits, with a couple of scanners (sheet fed and a slick yet inexpensive see-thru HP Scanjet 4600 Scanner), Paperport software (for collecting scans and managing image files) and Windows Desktop Search. In addition, we have the bulk of our bills and statements sent in electronic form.

But we’re not as hard-core as Bell: one of the biggest collection of papers so far that we simply don’t have (or make) the time to process? Paper receipts (a drawer in the kitchen is just easier, thank you), our children’s artwork and schoolwork, and hard copies of a select few magazines: I enjoy having the paper versions of Wired, Fast Company and Fine Homebuilding. Everything else is scanned or referenced on the web, especially nice as so many magazines are now available via on-line archives (usually free for subscribers).