The Imperative To Record

In July 1945 Vannevar Bush wrote in his seminal essay As We May Think:

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, “memex” will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.


Presumably man’s spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his records more fully if he is to push his experiment to its logical conclusion and not merely become bogged down part way there by overtaxing his limited memory.

That and persistance beyond death have been the motives for recording my own life in this blog and elsewhere, mostly in digital form. It seems to be a pretty universal desire given the popularity of blogging. Now Microsoft (with the MyLifeBits Project) and DARPA (with LifeLog) are intending to take the concept one step further, recording GPS coordinates, phone conversations, and biomedical data, among other personal information. This time, however, the motives seem to include surveillance, at least for the DARPA proposal.

Anyway, while I’m at it, I should record that I just made myself a chocolate and banana milkshake for the first time, and it was uma~i!


amanda was writing an aa thesis that touched on the issue of techno-fantasy and the human desire to cheat death. my take is yes; technology and efficiency are driven by relatively popular concepts � to create a better means to perceive life, to maximize the time spent living �the life�, and squeezing more life into the space between here and death.

in the forties; without washing machines there was no time in the average british household for playstation. and it is sad to think that they still had 35 years to wait for telex strips. and that even now we need to wait five more years till they release memory stick reading photo-vending machines outside of japan and hong kong.

on a side note. on the way to work this morning, I passed one of the many electronics-shop-keepers along tottenham court road. he had with him a series of remote controls on what looked like a scaled up key-chain, and he was tuning in his shop front.