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Books & Articles I wrote.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Recording your life

For anyone who knows me, firstly i apologize.

Secondly, you may know about my ideas on recording tacit information - data you don't explicitly put in a database or CMS and categorize and index it and so on. My work over the last number of years has been around collabration, semantic web, tags, information and knowledge capture and smart mobs - how is our life going to get smarter.

But although i have a huge interest in HOW this data is captured (how do i record this 5 minute meeting - on my phone, pda, vide camera and so on...) my key interest has been in storage and retrival of this. It doesn't work like normal core information does - hell, people barely categorize that - bit it is much more fluid and dynamic... people don't want to spend much if any time categorizing and managing tacit information. They want a "save and store" mechanism which allows it to be retrieved across a number of slices.

You may have known of my work on TESARAC which i trialed at a large enterprise here in Scotland to see what the results would be. I started with collaborative blogs and emails, but the idea was to extend this. It wasn't promoted by the right people (on reflection, one of the key things i should have pushed for) and so it had some limited success.

I spoke endlessly with investors and enterprise agencies but none of them could see why you woudl ever want to caputre data such as your meetings, quick thoughts you had about something, something you saw that you captured on your phone and may be relevant to something and so on. They asked me "what kind of applications do you see this being used for" - i guess i just wasn't good enough in answering that part - although i DO have a number of ideas.

Well... after listening to a discussion on IT Conversations by Jamais Cascio about the MyLifeBits Project in Microsoft Research. This caught my attention:

Gordon Bell has captured a lifetime's worth of articles, books, cards, CDs, letters, memos, papers, photos, pictures, presentations, home movies, videotaped lectures, and voice recordings and stored them digitally. He is now paperless, and is
beginning to capture phone calls, IM transcripts, television, and radio.

Yes! This is it. Now, i would like to see their software which is what i will do in the next day or so, but i have been validated! I was not the first person in this area by a long shot, but i did spend 2 years of my life working exclusively on it so this is a good sign for me.

Maybe the time is right to get back into this again. I think it needs to start off small - asking people to do too much just doesn't seem to work. Focused, targetted and aimed at the right people this does actually work.

Now I am going to start recording more. I have been reborn! ok, not quite at that extreme, but what i am working on now is pretty cool, but not directly related, but i am already thinking about how the two could be brought closer together. Both projects expect devices to get smarter and more pervasive and yep, that's happening.

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