The Life-Loggers and Human-Correcters

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I'm not going to lie. These two chapters kind of freaked me out a bit. They also kind of caught me off-guard a little since I was expecting to read more motivational tips like from Kleon.

That's not to say this wasn't EXTREMELY interesting. I think it was mainly the discomfort I felt from reading mainly Chapter Two's "We, the Memorius" where Thompson tells the story of MIT speech scientist Deb Roy, and his decision to document his life after placing video cameras and ultra-sensitive microphones in every room in his house.

It's kind of weird when you think about it, but in a way I'm sort of jealous since I'm currently in the process of trying to recover some old snapchats from when I went backpacking and for some reason thought it would be a good idea to not keep any of those videos.

Thompson asks the question "What would it be like to never forget anything? To start off your life with that sort of record, then keep it going until the day you die?" (23).

Well, first that's a LOT of digital memory, but I am not surprised to learn that some people have tried this out. And I've actually seen things done like this before. A couple years ago a dad finally published a fast forwarded montage of his daughter Lotte every day from birth until she turned 13. (Talk about an annoying dad). This is the youtube video link:


So what do I think? Well, the concept that "The future is already here—it's not very evenly distributed" (9) kind of correlates with this--in a more literal sense. We are already recording everything in pieces. Our pictures, snapchats, vines, etc. are all just short-term memory. Dr. Roy is experimenting with long-term memory, and with that comes the issue that technology is in fact, smarter than the human mind in a certain respect.

Just like the example of Dr. Roy not remembering certain parts of a day right, we are constantly altering our memories to what we believe them to be. We can remember them worse or better than what actually happened, and this is why so many people (for example: witnesses to crimes) have different recollections of the EXACT same event.

We are all different, and our memories are different. But a video camera can be the most unbiased recorder of events out there. It tells things exactly how they happened. And this could potentially be used as a device to correct our human error. And this is the future right? Is not everything we make nowadays used to correct human error?

But this scares me mainly because of many things and here are my main concerns:

1. Privacy. SO SO easy for hackers to probably figure out everything about you AND THEN SOME.

2. Psychological issues. People who already have a hard time letting go of the past will have an even harder time since it is now easier to relive those painful ex-relationships, arguments, happier days in the worst way possible.

3. A waste of electricity? Seriously? Has no one thought of the amount of power it takes to keep their camera on for so long?

4. No more ignorance is bliss. But honestly. I feel like some of my memories are probably better than the real thing. And I don't want a camera to ruin that for me.

But J.K. Rowling already had something like this. Remember Dumbledore's pensieve?



Well, he used it to fight Lord Voldemort. Which wasn't so bad...but still.


jmalone's picture

This was a phenomenal post,

This was a phenomenal post, Marissa!

I agree wholeheartedly that the stuff Thompson is talking about is frankly really, really freaky to consider. You did, however, do a great job of making it a lot easier to stomach in utilizing your keen sense of humor throughout. I'm a pretty obsessive photo-taker at times, feeling the need to document friends' birthdays, vacations, etc., and I honestly can't fathom having to sort through any more content than I already do. That being said, I'm thankfully in agreeance with you on the impracticalities associated with this extreme documentation, so there's little fear that I could deal with such an endeavor.

I'm more afraid that that mindset will become 'old-fashioned' someday in the near future!

laurenew's picture

Loved this post!

Hi Marissa!

I was also definitely expecting the book to be more motivational like Kleon's. I suppose it was still somewhat encouraging, though I think my time to become a chess grandmaster has probably passed. I completely agree that the concept of documenting one's entire life, every move made and word spoken is pretty freaky. Frankly, I'm not sure I want to remember every single detail of my life. The beauty of brief captures of memories like still photos are that you can choose to remember the best parts of them. I'm not sure it's such a bad things to remember moments in our own ways, and agree - I think a lot of my memories are much better than the real thing.

mamores's picture

Hey Marissa,

Hey Marissa,

I completely agree with your fears because I do a lot of embarrassing things when I'm alone in my house. I totally love Thompson's idea of social media being a mode of keeping memories; I'm a fan of looking back over my tweets and instagram posts for a good laugh. I think that the beauty of memory though is that it's characterized by being subjective. Memory is more of an engrained interpretation than it is a record of actual events. Recording every moment of your life takes away your ability to remember things as a interpretation, the video becomes evidence of your fault as a human being.