The Persistence of Memory

Friday, January 04, 2008


Computer scientist Gordon Bell is at the vanguard of a movement called "lifelogging," digitally recording every moment of his day in an effort to create a complete virtual memory of his life. But why? We talk with Bell and also technology writer Clive Thompson about the implications.

Listen to Brooke's unedited interview with Clive Thompson here.

Comments [5]

Mark P from San Mateo, CA

This piece sounded really familiar. Then I remembered why: you ran it about a year ago.

In the future, when you recycle pieces, can you mention it and mention whether there's any new material? I kept listening to see if you updated the content or whether it was simply a version of the original piece that you re-cut (for length).


Jan. 10 2008 04:02 PM
Devender Narang from Pasadena, CA

I always thought less of myself for not remembering my childhood as vividly as a few others in my circle. However, I did experience a few tragedies as a teenager and the piece has helped me understand that forgetting is part of the healing process and sometimes it is better to let go of these memories...

Jan. 07 2008 12:53 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

I can’t say who said the printing press robbed people of our once more prodigious memories, but it sounded reasonable. When we could not depend on books to maintain the facts we need (or our cell phones the numbers), we were forced to keep them in our heads. (I hear Marlowe's Faust, attempting to ward off Mephistopheles coming for his soul, swearing to Heaven, "I'll burn my books!")

The memory bereft victims brought to mind "50 First Dates", reminding me of one funny little discovery about my own memory. In a very busy period in my life, I kept both a schedule and a journal. A woman, whom is important to me, had been away a long time and reappeared. I wanted to recall exactly when we met. I knew exactly which meeting and found the date in my schedule. I was shocked to find that she did not enter my journal until weeks later and, even then, with only a casual reference, since I remember being immediately electrified.

Of course, I already knew memory was tricky. I first fell in love at 11 with the girl across the street, then moved at 13, swearing to myself that I would return to find her when I could drive, only to get “short-term” amnesia 7 months later, for a few weeks. However, when she died in a car accident, when I was 20, I had no clue as to why I cried so bitterly upon being told of it.

At 33, while a school bus driver picking up children where we had lived for the first time, it all flooded back. Luckily, the kids were understanding.

Jan. 06 2008 03:07 AM
Avi Wenger from pittsburgh, pennsylvania, my kitchen, an alcove, a desk carved from an old closet, above me books

another excellent radio moment. i particularly loved the section about the modifications we make as individuals and a culture to our brain, its capacity to remember, and the underlying structure our brains have evolved to account for memories, and how we are on the cusp of modifying this structure. now, if i can only remember what i did with dog's leash...

Jan. 05 2008 08:21 AM
Dan Strum from NYC

Lifeblogging reminds me of a Steven Wright joke --
I have a map of the United States, actual size.

Jan. 04 2008 07:23 PM

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