September 11, 2009
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Total Recall
Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything by Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell, Dutton Books, 304 Pages, $26.95, Hardcover, September 2009. ISBN 9780525951346 Imagine that you are in your doctor’s office complaining about an ache or pain and, to help her in her diagnosis, she asks you what activities you’ve engaged in lately. Did you lift something awkwardly or eat something odd two days ago? It can be tough to come up with truly accurate answers to those questions because, if you are like me, you are a busy person and have a hard time remembering what you did an hour ago! When you add age into the mix, it becomes doubly hard. Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell present the answer to this problem in their book, Total Recall. Gordon Bell, a preeminent computer scientist, and Jim Gemmell, his colleague at Microsoft, decided in the late 90’s to create a digital record of Bell’s past. That digital record would include all of his artifacts—high school yearbook, family memorabilia, emails, writings, and doctor records—going forward. This data would be stored offsite and access would be available on all his devices, from smart phone to desktop. The authors envision a “personal digital memory collection-and-management system that will (if you choose) be able to record just about everything you see, hear, and do and keep it all in one big virtual collection in the cloud. The uses of such an archive are limitless.” The book’s chapters are laid out around the application of this data storage and retrieval system to your work, your health, your learning and your everyday life. Then they show you how to get started with your own digital record with step-by-step instructions. The final forty pages of the book are annotated references and other valuable resources. Total Recall has really stuck with me and I find myself agreeing with the authors that this revolution could be life changing. “Biological memory is subjective, patchy, emotion-tinged, ego-filtered, impressionistic, and mutable,” they argue, while “Digital memory is objective, dispassionate, prosaic, and unforgivingly accurate.” Now imagine the efficiency of that next doctor’s visit.