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The Informed Brain in a Digital World
Interdisciplinary Research Team Challenges

The Informed Brain in a Digital World Interdisciplinary Research Team Challenge 3:
Define the trajectory, value, and risk of extreme lifelogging when nearly everything about a person is in Cyberspace1.

Challenge Summary
As data is ingested from and about our daily lives using phones, computers, and other sources, society is on a clear trajectory to have various degrees of “Full Life Recording”.  “Extreme Lifelogging” is a on a decade course to allow an individual to record everything they see (Caprani et al, 2001) , hear and much more with the aid of GPS tracking and on body health monitoring aids (Topol, 2012).

A log of our information interactions is a step towards management and integration of our information and ourselves. A log that includes GPS encoding, near-field interactions with devices, pointers to pictures we’ve taken or videos we’ve recorded begins to approach the fidelity of a lifelog with a potential to serve as a lifelong complement to our internal memory and our digital selves. This lifetime log is the basis for the creation of understanding and stories.

Being able to reliably store and retrieve a lifetime of information within personal devices and the cloud is practical, inexpensive, and inevitable. This inevitably raises issues in every aspect from recording though the lifetime use and hereafter life storage that research and dozens of companies are forming2 to solve.

As we struggle to find, organize, and use life records, one challenge is information fragmentation of our personal information or our cyberself. We need to know where our cyberself is located, who owns and can access it, and when (now and in the future). Of course control involving permanency, privacy and security of our digital selves is always a concern as we continue to allow or offer more public access to our cyberself.  For people’s lives that are maintained by public institutions such as universities and national libraries (British Library, 2009), maintaining life records of hybrid analog-digital people is a challenge. For example, who will be in public digital lifeboats?

We also want our logs to have existence and persistence independent of the applications and devices we happen to be using at any time and held anywhere. Our digital life is forever.

Key Questions
Will “extreme lifelogging” actually occur as determined by whether such systems can be built that serve a useful purpose i.e. are able to create a market? What privacy laws or concerns will inhibit their existence?

How can meaningful structures emerge as an effortless by-product of our interactions (with our information and with other people)? E.g.: Email threads tell useful stories of discussions which extend across and “over” time. “Stories” are perhaps the most useful structures about a person. How can these be constructed automatically?

How much can a person’s eMemory help that person in the event of declining function including various neurological diseases?

What are the costs to store my cyberself forever(t)?  Assuming I pay for this upfront, how can I guarantee my forever existence without a physical self?

What mechanisms e.g. standards, laws, technology is required to insure the long term accessibility of digital lives such that these personal bits will be always readable?

Will the BCI (Brain Computer Interface) play into such systems?  Ideally, a person’s eMemory is a person’s real  and lasting memory, and a URL and metadata to access this content.

Suggested Reading
Bell G. and Gemmell J. Total recall: Your life uploaded. Dutton, Penguin: New York 2009. (Videos, articles, and papers about the book accessed online March 28, 2012: http://totalrecallbook.com/videos/.)

British Library. First digital lives research conference: personal digital archives for the 21st century 9 February 2009.  (Summaries accessed online March 28, 2012: http://www.history.org.uk/resources/public_news_747.html.)

Caprani N, O'Connor N, and Gurrin C. Motivating lifelogging practices through shared family reminiscence. In: CHI 2011 workshop: Bridging practices, theories, and technologies to support reminiscence 8 May 2011: Vancouver, Canada. (Accessed online March 28, 2012: http://doras.dcu.ie/16342/.) 

Jones W. (XooML: XML in support of many tools working on a single organization of personal information. In Proceedings of the 2011 iConference 2011: Seattle, Washington;478-488. (Accessed online, January 31, 2012: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1940761.1940827&coll=DL&dl=ACM&CFID=78744649&CFTOKEN=40096615.)

Ringel M, Cutrell E, Dumais S, Horvitz E. Milestones in time: The value of landmarks in retrieving information from personal stores. Proceedings of Interact 2003: Ninth International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction September 2003: Zürich, Switzerland. Accessed online March 28, 2012: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/horvitz/landmark.htm.) 

Topol E. The creative destruction of medicine: How the digital revolution will create better health care. Basic Books: New York, 2012.

1Cyberspace includes a vast distributed network of information stores from personal computers, cloud services, and organizations that have acquired personal information.  Gathering functions include phones, computers, medical devices, companies, institutions.\
2Quindi, WisdomArk/MemoryArk, many Digital Cemeteries, Evernote, reQall, Lifebio, IBM Penseive, Famento, MyCyberTwin, Deepvue, egoArchive, Memolane, Erly, Calltrunk, Dadapp, socialsafe, lazimeter, memdedn, Evertale, Timehop, Facebook TimeLine, etc.