Microsoft Research: MyLifeBits, Multiple Monitors and You

My friend Tim Erlin, pointed me to this Fast Company article titled “A Head for Detail” about an experimental software project called MyLifeBits and how Microsoft Researcher Gordon Bell is using it to create a lifetime store of everything. Everything he sees and says, his phone calls, his e-mails, every document he writes or reads – everything one could conceive of is captured and stored in a searchable database designed for quick recall of every possible aspect of his life. Here is an out take:

“As we chatted about ious 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… He plunked down in front of his computer, pulled up a browser, typed in “Clive Fast Company,” and there they were: Hundreds of pictures of the meeting scrolled by on his screen, and the sound of our day-old conversation filled the room. It was a deeply strange feeling.”

Besides being a brilliantly written article, an engaging and fascinating read, it really highlights some of the groundbreaking findings that are coming out of Microsoft Research and it implications on productivity in the workplace.
For instance, the research on how multiple monitors increase productivity has provided backing to my personal crusade I have been leading at work to make sure that any IT staff member who wants an extra monitor receives one. I also hasten to remind the management types that the research actually shows that three monitors is the sweet spot (I am still working on winning that one). The point here is that searching around the Microsoft Research site can dig up some fascinating stuff that is just over the horizon including some stuff that you can use to your benefit today.
As a final note, there is a fun little side link to the article that tells you how you can start to create your very own MyLifeBits using off the shelf technology and software that is out today (including Mac Org-Fu cult favorite DEVONThink).

One thought on “Microsoft Research: MyLifeBits, Multiple Monitors and You”

  1. Although I think something like MyLifeBits is inevitable, I’m not so sure it’s a good thing. A lot of our ability as adults to change, mature, and improve is our ability to forget and soften all those embarrassing and inconsistent moments and life! And I certainly don’t want anyone but me having access to all that data.
    On the other hand, I’m a big believer in multiple monitors, or at least 1 REALLY big monitor. Right now, I’m writing this on the screen of my MacBook Pro, while to my right is a 2nd screen, a 20″ widescreen Dell monitor is displaying my Outlook calendar in Windows (running in Parallels).
    But no matter if we want it or not, I don’t think we’re far from having full, HD video from our personal POV and multiple cameras pointing at us, 24X7.
    I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Deville.

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