I came across this post while looking for information on attention recording and one of the paragraphs regarding self-documentary really resonated with me.
I’m also running the Attention Recorder because I’m afraid of forgetting. When I studied Russian history, some time ago, I was struck by just how little remained of people, only a few centuries after their deaths. Only scraps of documentation survive, if any; many individuals have simply ceased to exist. Provided I take care of the data, the Attention Recorder can serve as a record of me, allowing future generations to reconstruct how I thought and when I thought it. Perhaps I’ll be a good Master’s thesis a couple of centuries down the road. Or – more importantly – perhaps I’ll still be around in a couple of centuries. Ray Kurzweill raises the possibility in his The Singularity is Near, a book that’s been on my mind recently – and in case he’s right, and my lifespan is dramatically longer than my ancestors’, I want to make sure I remember who I am and where I came from in the centuries ahead. I wish I could record it all; what I see, what I hear, what I feel. I can’t, yet, although I’m confident I’ll be able to someday, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to make use of those recorded surroundings some day after that. For now, my clickstream is a good start.
I’m into this idea of recording my digital stream as well. Practices of self-documentary and sousveillance have been re-occuring themes in the arts and sciences. It’s just a matter of time before we have the tools to do this for ourselves in our digital lives.
In terms of current software, there are a few programs that map and track our activity within our computer OS, such as Slife for the Mac. With the Internet, there’s basic archival and tracking methods available to us – browser history, site traffic patterns from users, software to track browser usage – but most web-based activity and attention recording is fairly limited. Or it’s not the kind we want, like those used by employers or the government for citizen surveillance. The Attention Recorder mentioned above attempts to give individuals access to their web-base digital trail.
In general, though, our web-based and OS-based activities are disparate and exist in two separate worlds. What we need are tools that combine the two experiences to allow us to track, visualize, and understand our myriad digital activities.