Realizing Memex… Digital Capture, Storage, and Utilization of All Personal Information

Gordon Bell, Microsoft

For almost a decade, we have worked on MyLifeBits, a project that chronicles a person’s life by encoding every aspect of one’s communications with people and machines, what is heard and seen, and many aspects of their physical existence. Our manifesto: ; the cost to store and maintain such a cyberlife is negligible; an individual data increasingly exists electronically for short and long term use; the value of the data increases more than linearly by being able to relate all items. Three pillars underlie need – supplementing human memory including faithful reproduction of content, freeing an individual of both the atomic and electronic clutter of life’s bits, and providing the potential for a digital immortality. What started as a project for capturing books and papers evolved to art, articles, books, cards, email, letters, memos, papers, photos, posters, and physical objects such as coffee mugs and T-shirt logos. In 2005, it was clear that the system is fundamentally a transaction processing database for all personal interactions with the computer and other devices e.g. SenseCam that captures 1-2 thousand photos a day, and perhaps someday the 2+ billion heart beats.

Speaker Biography

Gordon Bell is a principal researcher with the Microsoft Research Group, San Francisco (1995-) working on a system, MyLifeBits to capture everything in a person’s life. His career includes: vice president of R & D, Digital Equipment Corp. (1960-1983); Professor of Computer Science and electrical engineering, Carnegie-Mellon University (1966-72); founding Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation’s Computing and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE) Directorate (1986-1988); National Research and Education Network (NREN) panel chair (1987-1988) for creating the internet; advisor/investor in 100+ start-up companies; and a founding trustee of the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA. He is a Diamond Exchange Fellow, on TTI Vanguard’s Advisory Board, and the Dept. of Energy’s Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee.