Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Article: Turning Your Life Into Bits, Indexed

Gordon Bell, of Microsoft, has created "a system known as MyLifeBits (soon to be formally renamed 'Memex') aims at nothing less than creating a digital archive of a person's entire life." This product takes advantage of the ability to digitize a wide variety of items and the plummeting cost of digital storage. As ofMay, "the archive held 206,000 items in 101 gigabytes, including 84,300 e-mail texts, copies of 53,400 Web pages Bell had visited, 38,600 pictures and more than 15,000 documents. It grows at a pace of about 1 gigabyte per month." The LA Times article provides more details on how Bell came up with this idea. The question it doesn't answer is how many people will really want to archive everything associated with their lives as Bell is doing.

4 comments:

Dennis Moser said...

Sorry, Jill, but this is exactly the kind of project that abuses the term "archives"...

Time and again, we strive to counter the "meaning drift" that technology, and digitization in particular, have perpetuated against the use of the term. This is not an archives, unless it can be shown that there has been an arrangement of the material collected that provides us a context for its' assembly and existence as a "collection."

While it is clearly a "collection" by most any definition, it lacks the process of appraisal that distinguishes any "archival" one. The two terms I've used, "arrangement" and "appraisal" both have a specific meaning with the field of archivy.

And you're right: It really doesn't answer the vital question of how many people will really want to collect ("archive" is again abused here) everything associated with their lives. The archivist's job, after all, is to get RID of things...not to keep everything...that's part of the process of appraisal for them!

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