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Photographic memory made easy

Mike Elgan | Jan. 26, 2016
Lifelogging used to be an obscure area of geek research. Now you're doing it every day. Here's how to lifelog even better.

We've all learned the easiest photography trick: You'll get better pictures by taking more of them and cherry-picking the best.

The result is that (at least in my case) I probably take 100 pictures for every picture I post, and I probably post too many.

Anyone looking at the pictures I post might think: Wow, Mike is a really good photographer.

Anyone looking at the pictures I don't post might think: Wow, Mike is a really horrible photographer.

Both my good and horrible pictures are hoovered up by Google Photos. And guess what? My Google Photos is a lifelog. Good or bad, my photos remind me of events and experiences I otherwise would have forgotten.

We all have some version of this. As long as we have access to photos, whether published or not, we have a photo lifelog.

Meanwhile, as we move to the cloud with our email, documents and other content, more of our communication and word memories are retained, because the cloud often does a better job of not losing that stuff than we did on our own.

Many us (we know who we are) constantly take selfies, photograph our food, and automatically report banal events like airport arrivals and random thoughts on our social feeds.

Personally, I record just about every notable idea or article I come across on Twitter and pour my heart out (and promote my work) on Google+. I register most family-related events on Facebook.

My Automatic car adapter keeps a running record of where I drive, how much I spend on gas, how many times I "hard brake," drive over 70 mph, and "hard accel."

My "Moves" app tracks every place I go and how long I stay there, as well as how many steps I take, how long I walk or run and more.

Google also keeps a record of everywhere I go, every word I say on email and Google+, every document I write on Google Docs, every idea I jot down in Google Keep, and every search I conduct with Google Search.

An Apple Watch app called HeartWatch logs every heartbeat.

All this together is the stuff of a lifelog more detailed than anyone imagined. In fact, it's too detailed for a lifelog.

Most active technology users (like me) are already lifelogging. But we're doing it wrong. Here are the three steps to doing it really well.

1. Come to terms with the reality of lifelogging

Let's think clearly about this.

First, lifelogging is super valuable. In my family, we have vivid, fond memories of the moments we shared that were photographed. The unphotographed moments are mostly forgotten. Pictures matter. Memory matters. We're incredibly fortunate to live in a world where lifelogging is easy.


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