TRENDS | 10,000 photos on your hard disk are only the beginning, Ahmad Humeid prophesizes
How many photos did the average human being have of him or herself 300 years ago. None. People where lucky if they had someone do a portrait of them. Only kings and barons could afford an oil painting of themselves.
How many photos did your grandfather make? Maybe none, maybe a few hundred. Ok what about your mother? Definitely more. Still, the cost of film and developing made photography somewhat expensive. Now how many photos do you have on your hard disk (mine are nearing 10,000, taken over the space of 5 years)? How many videos do you have of your family? Are you starting to store more and more little videos on your cell phone? Do you have a blog. Is that becoming a digital diary.
Now stop for a moment and take this trend to a possible, logical conclusion. Here’s a scenario for you to think about. Imagine a pair of glasses that you’ll start wearing as a kid with an embedded camera and an always-on wireless connection (or a small hard disk in your cellphone). The camera is always on, recording everything that you’re seeing and hearing and storing the video on the hard disk.
At night, while you’re sleeping, the contents of the hard disk are emptied to you PC via Bluetooth. In the next morning your camera switches itself on and starts recording the new day.
Days, weeks, months and years pass by. Every second is recorded and stored, alongside you physical coordinates (via a GPS global positioning device). You entire past life experiences are accumulating on your hard disk.
What were you doing on February 15, 2002 at 1:30 pm? Just type in the date into a search box and up comes a video. Oh it was that boring meeting with that salesman. At 4:30? You see that you were driving to your parent’s house. Hey look, that old house on the corner was still standing? A green Opel was driving was front of you. Fast forward. An argument with your older brother! What was his problem?
Scary? Exciting? This is not science fiction at all. It is possible with today’s technology. Does it raise privacy issues? Oh yes it does. If I walk into you house for a visit today and I had a little camera stuck on my forehead that was recording our conversation, will it make you feel uncomfortable? Will you talk normally? What if you too had a camera stuck on your forehead? Will that make any difference?
Take this one step further. Imagine that people started making video archives of their entire days available online. Do you know the photo sharing site Flickr? Well, 80% of the pictures there there are public. So again, there is the trend right there.
So on the video for January 12th 1998 at 8 pm, you see that you were sitting in a restaurant. You go online and do a search to see if anyone who was sitting in the same place at the same time (remember, GPS!). You find someone. She left the restaurant an hour later. You keep watching the next 30 or 40 minutes of her life that day as she went on to visit her mother in hospital.
Just as you surf from one picture set to another on Flickr, you surf from one person’s life to another.
As a human civilization we are recording more of our history in an audio visual format. As individuals, we are recording more and more of our experiences in photos and videos. Where is the limit at which humans will decide to turn the cameras off? How will all of this affect the recoding of histories. How will it affect our concept of memory. Will you one day watch the screen of your PC to see what you were doing one year before, just to discover that, on that day, you were watching your life 5 years before (while you’re doing that, the camera will also be on of course!).