In the course of trying to catch up on a couple weeks of reading (which, by the way, is due in large part to the slim number of people that have some insane hope that I'll turn this pile of crap around into something interesting again. Thanks for your faith in whatever it is that you think that I'm doing here. It may be completely bogus but it still makes me feel all blushy and like I have better virtual friends than I really deserve) I found this fascinating article on a Microsoft research project that would be pretty amazing if it wasn't a research project and such a cumbersome configuration of machines and accessories.
The albatross cam that Bell walks around with seems a little ridiculous and intrusive to people surrounding him. Would you want every part of every conversation taped? How then do you separate the intent of a conversation when it is automagically taped and archived? This is one good reason that a project like this would be difficult to legitimize for someone that wasn't a researcher or wasn't involved in a project that actually necessitated something that obsessively preserved every interaction. Jesus, imagine what LiveJournal would like with the ability to preserve each and every interaction.
The ubiquitous availability of every single thing you've done is a little bit scary as is the idea of preserving all of it on media that is connected (read the whole backup and distribution schema in the story and think of all the little holes) for easy access. I'm trying to avoid using the obvious argument that you are trusting MSFT with all of your data in a literal sense but that has got to be a consideration given the historical porousness of their platforms. The article uses the analogy of Nixon's recorded conversations in the Watergate scandal to ponder this and that seems like a pretty reasonable summary of why ideas like this start jabbing at my paranoia buttons.
I like the idea of memory as a private process which allows us to make stupid mistakes that may evolve over time into better ideas or the rejection of bad ideas without public scrutiny. Just think of the impact of social networking stuff on how people interact with one another. Find an application that tracks listening and viewing habits of people and you will find, seconds later, people laboring to falsify that data as the visualization of their data, presumably made public, makes them self conscious. That said, I do really enjoy the idea of looking at a 1000 foot view of the data you've looked at over a given day or week. Would it be useful? Probably not but it would make you a lot more apt to remember that thing you read before lunch on Tuesday and the path of thinking that brought you there.
The health applications seem like a more sane way to implement the idea. Missed details seem more relevant and less scary when presented this way and protected legally by things like HIPAA.