The Future…or Something Like It

In one of my last posts, I mentioned my personal lack of fear in emerging technologies. Are the computers we use in our daily lives turning us into robots? Does “HAL live?” As Nicholas Carr says, “We’re beginning to process information as if we’re nodes; it’s all about the speed of locating and reading data. We’re transferring our intelligence into the machine, and the machine is transferring its way of thinking into us.”

Did we not think there was going to be any repercussions as a result of using computers to interact socially or part of our jobs in our daily lives? Carr goes on to say,

Computers are technologies of liberation, but they’re also technologies of control. It’s great that everyone is empowered to write blogs, upload videos to YouTube, and promote themselves on Facebook. But as systems become more centralized — as personal data becomes more exposed and data-mining software grows in sophistication — the interests of control will gain the upper hand. If you’re looking to monitor and manipulate people, you couldn’t design a better machine.

I agree with his points…to a cautious degree. Sure Carr presents computers dictating our futures, but if not that, then what? Radio and television dictated their initial generations. To me this is just natural progression. I am on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and I have written for (albeit infrequently at times) for a few blogs, including this one. If I were to bash my current employer after having a bad day (they DO happen to us), is it fair to have to face the consequences if they find this blog? Depending on the nature of the bashing (which can be subjective), then yes. In the public eye, if a celebrity says something stupid or ill-advised, do they pay a consequence? Yes and in an age where everyone wants their “15 minutes” and try to have their voice be just as important, we have to expect that consequences would be similar, on a personal basis.

Gordon Bell

Speaking of personal logging, you may have heard of life logging. While posting on this blog and looking through my 3 year history on Facebook (only 3?), these capture moments in time for me…but not everything. Life logging is what Gordon Bell has experimented in with MyLifeBits. Life logging is the” digital storage of a person’s lifetime, including full-text search, text/audio annotations and hyperlinks.” Bell has a great track record of predicting technology’s future (he once said in 1992, “”Twenty-five years from now…Computers will be exactly like telephones. They are probably going to be communicating all the time …”), so it is hard for me to quickly dismiss his personal life logging. I post on blogs on subjects I WANT to talk about. Do I necessarily want to track everything in my life? Do I want to revisit a past relationship with an old girlfriend? Sure, I recall some good times, some bad, but I certainly do not want to revisit the intimate details of a bad break-up. However, I can be swayed on life logging.

When reading Eagleyedon’s blog, The Future, a family member with dementia was mentioned, along with the possibilities of life logging. When listening to Bell speak of life logging on The persistence of memory, I couldn’t help but think of think of the potential of life logging in a person suffering from memory loss as well. My family has a history of Alzheimer’s disease and life logging would certainly have been a technological breakthrough to explore (especially early on in the diagnosis). While the disease robs a person of their memory, it would be good to have a backlog and possibly curb the symptoms, if only for a little while.

As Communications of the ACM says, “HAVING a surrogate memory CREATES A FREEING, UPLIFTING, AND SECURE FEELING—similar to having an assistant with a perfect memory.” In the end, while many fear living your life publicly, there are advantages and disadvantages. While life logging can be extreme for some, we will all have a virtual “paper trail” on us sooner or later; it is what future generations will know as the “norm” for living. As Jim Morrison famously once said, “A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” The internet gives that freedom to express ourselves in new and exciting ways, just know that it is more than just friends that will perceive who you are.


  • “The persistence of memory.” link
  • Wired interview with Nick Carr. link
  • Gemmell, J., Bell, G., & Lueder, R. (2006). MyLifeBits: a personal database for everything. Communications of the ACM, 49(1), 89-95.
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