Looking back over over my life I regret that I have little record of my personal thoughts and ideas. Lots of writing but little record of what I was going through, what I was thinking or the spaces I occupied. There’s nothing to mark my day-to-day life. Sure, I have pictures of major events – birthdays, graduations and trips. But they do a poor job of really recording the quiet corners of my life.
So a couple of months back I started a personal journal on Evernote. At least once or twice a day I record my thoughts and grab a picture of where I am and what’s on my mind. No more than a couple of sentences. It was just an experiment but after a couple of months it’s amazing to see what I’ve captured. Random thoughts and feelings that I have already forgotten. Snapshots of my perspective while sitting in coffee shop. A picture of my night stand with its bric-a-brac. A short recorded audio discussion with my daughter while getting her off to sleep.
While there are probably a number of platforms that would get the job done, Evernote represents the perfect solution for this little project. It keeps the barrier to document low. It’s on my iPhone, I can record in multiple types of media and making an entry is as simple as hitting the + button. I get a time/date stamp and all entries are geotagged. I default to a notebook dedicated to this project. I don’t have to worry about backup since it lives in the great green cloud.
I would kill to be able to see and feel a record of my real life twenty years ago. So today I’m going to capture some of those moments that seem inane. It’s narrative self-quantification meets multimedia personal archive. It’s part of living the examined life as described by Courtney Boyd Myers:
Right now, you are living what’s referred to as “an examined life” by using applications like Evernote, Runkeeper, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook and Google which capture fragments of your digital self. But what if a program could follow your whole life, and you’d simply tap a green button on your phone, or your wrist implant to store what’s happening around you in an external memory- a phrase, a piece of music, the weather, your vital signs and your mood at that particular moment? If data aggregation and social technology continue iterating (which they undoubtedly will), those fragments will be put together in a holistic way, and they will become your digital avatar.
By allowing you to relive the past through your stored, contextual memories, you could effectively (albeit digitally) travel back through time and re-experience those memories through your digital avatar. I know it’s a lot to take in. But imagine explaining Facebook to your Grandmother in 1940. It’d be a lot for her to take in too.
Now, fast forward 100 years. I started using Evernote at age 26. Now, I’m 126 and I’ve been physically dead for 20 years after a bike riding accident in Provence at the age of 106. But for years after my death, for an eternity, my children and their children, could pour through my memories in a multimedia fashion, revisiting my life in a way that the present day diary keeper could only desperately imagine.
Let’s see where this goes.