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Spying on Myself and LifeTracker

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Picture 3Fred Wilson had a post this weekend about MyWare and his love of it. I couldn’t agree more as i’m a huge proponent of tracking my own activity. For instance,

Fred wrote that he likes to keep this data because, “I am interested in this sector of implicit behavior data. I believe that publishing the things I do on the web will allow web services to get smarter about me and give me better experiences.” I keep track for different reasons.  I actually like to keep data about myself. I find it interesting and i use to remember events of my life.

But i see it going even further.  What i wrote was:

When i look at the web, i see people trying to capture experiences. They capture photos on flickr, videos on youtube, and notes with people on email. Their life is being tracked but not in a comprehensive way.

I could imagine a site – call it “Lifetracker.com” which tracks all the things you do. You plug in last.fm, gmail (or other email), google voice, flickr/picassa, twitter, credit card (mint), youtube and other web services. I then matches 3 things: the data, the contacts, and the time. It creates a timeline for you and marks who you’ve been interacting with and when. There’s an API so each new web service you start using you can plug into it.

There are several benefits: (1) as you mentioned, you can give this data to services for recommendations; (2) you can search your life. If google is web search, twitter is real-time search, this would be “me search”; (3) just like we don’t remember phone numbers anymore b/c we put them into our phone to retrieve any time we want, we can start throwing information into lifetracker such as meeting notes, audio recordings of phone calls, etc. so we don’t have to write stuff down and remember it. Use the cloud as a memory storage instead of your brain

I see this coming and it’s really exciting to think about it.

I do think it will happen.  What do you think?

Written by Mike Lewis

July 13th, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Recording Life

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I just read a great article by Clive Thompson called “Head for Detail” about Gordon Bell‘s latest experieement.  Please just read the first 2 paragraphs.  It’s about Gordon and how he is recording everything he’s doing (video, audio, emails, web, everything).  He’s been doing it for the past 14 years and is able to bring up almost eveyrthing.  Clive writes about Bell, saying:

He[Bell] had a tiny bug-eyed camera around his neck, and a small audio recorder at his elbow. As we chatted about various topics–Australian jazz musicians, his futuristic cell phone, the Seattle area’s gorgeous weather–Bell’s gear quietly logged my every gesture and all my blathering small talk, snapping a picture every 60 seconds. Back at his office, his computer had carefully archived every document related to me: all the email I’d sent him, copies of my articles he’d read, pages he’d surfed on my blog.

This really resonated with me as i am already trying to record my life. I have photos up on Flickr, i have my ideas going to my blog, i have my mundane thoughts going to Twitter, my videos going to YouTube, and my friend interactions recorded on Facebook.  I’m already on the web but just in the totality that Bell is.  Storage is getting cheaper and cheaper it’s gone from $233,000 for a gigabyte in 1980 to less than $1 today.  Soon there will be enough storage in your cell phone for your entire life to be stored.  I do this because i want to remember. I want my memories to be accesible all the time and reading the article made me realize how inefficent i’ve been in capturing them.

I really like articles like this becaues they make you think about where the world is going and wonder how human interactions and functions will change.  It touches on how humans will change when we no longer have to remember stuff.  I already don’t remember phone numbers beceuase of your cell phone. What if you don’t have to remember people’s names and interactions and you free you mind to be more creative.  Just imagine – that’s what i’m doing now….

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Why did Flickr stop innovating?

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Image representing Flickr as depicted in Crunc...
Why aren’t you better?

I’ve been a big flickr fan for years.  I take a lot of photos and that’s always been my favorite spot to put them.  Flickr‘s been great at pioneering the 2.0 photo experience. They were the first to have a photostream view – not just albums. And they were the first to have tags which allow you to organize your photos in a better way.  However, they haven’t done much lately.  Sure, they added videos which is GREAT but that’s about it.  The look hasn’t changed, there aren’t many new features and i feel that they are getting out developed by facebook’s photo experience and Google‘s Picasa.   Sure those sites have different goals for their photo experience but at least they are moving forward. What’s Flickr done for me lately? Nothing.

Both Facebok and Picasa allow you to specifically name who is in each photo. Facebook does this by “tagging” a photo with a user and Picasa does this by analyzing the faces in the photos.  Both are brain dead simple to use and are really slick.  I’ve always used Flickr’s tags to do this with thier photos but i’d like to more specifically associate a photo with a user.

I also think that Flickr could make the “editing” of photo metadata easier.  The order a picture shows up in your photostream is effectively the date you took it – but if you upload a photo much later, you have to go back and manually adjust the dates so it appears in the right spot. Flickr has always made title and description editing amazingly simply by keeping it in-line but adjusting the date and privacy of a photo still takes you to another page.  Why can’t they make that easier? Same thing with setting a group of photos to a later date. This is too hard to do.

The bottom line is that i still love Flickr but i feel that it’s getting stagnant.  i’m starting to think that Flickr has officially become a Yahoo company and not a nimble startup.  And i don’t want to hitch my wagon to something that is in maintenance mode.  I knew this day would come and i think the day might finally be here. I think i could say the same about delicious too.  That site could have been much bigger than it is.

I’m wondering now – where should my photos go? What’s going to be be even better.  I don’t like how Picasa is only albums but i do like how they are at least getting better and better.  Is there a 3.0 photo experience that i can use?

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Written by Mike Lewis

December 30th, 2008 at 6:40 pm