Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Webcam as Memex


I am intrigued by Vannevar Bush's 1945 idea of a memex, a "lifetime store of everything". I wish I had a device built into my eyeglasses that recorded everything I see and hear, everything I type (for instant retrieval later), every website I visit, every email, every phone call I receive. It's often useful to be able to go into the past and recall what you were doing, or retrieve a document or email from the past. And it's just fun to see pictures from a week ago, a year ago, a decade ago.

Well I don't have a wearable memex, so I've set up the next best thing which is a webcam that takes my picture automatically every 6 hours. It reminds me of Mena Trott's project to take a picture of herself every day for the rest of her life. Or Project 365, in which you snap a photo every day. The beauty of this setup is that it's done automatically, so I don't need to remember to do it.



  • You're obviously pretty confident nothing untoward is going to be happening in front of your webcam at these intervals! Or are you just storing the pictures locally?

    And +1 for the recording-everything eyeglasses. That I would queue around the block for ...

    By Blogger Thomas David Baker, at 7/05/2007 8:33 a.m.  

  • Ha! Yeah, I'm living dangerously.

    Thing about those glasses is they may be invading other people's privacy. Ah well - it's just a pipe dream anyway.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 7/05/2007 10:57 p.m.  

  • I'll have to see if there's some OS X software for doing something like this. Have you read Rainbow's End? It's got some interesting ideas in it along those lines.

    By Blogger Phil, at 7/08/2007 4:51 p.m.  

  • Hi Phil - I'll check that out!

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 7/08/2007 9:57 p.m.  

  • You are most likely aware of the number of portrait-a-day guys out there, but just in case, here are some of my favs:

    This guy's consistent for 8 years:

    The 'Arrow of Time' Family, 30 years, once a year:

    Noah K. 6 years everyday timelapse:

    By Blogger Jeff Werner, at 7/12/2007 8:11 a.m.  

  • Jeff - I enjoyed checking those out - thanks!!

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 7/12/2007 10:29 a.m.  

  • You might look at Waymarkr ( It turns your cell phone camera as a way to constantly document what you are doing / where you are going. Almost perfectly describes your memex.

    (Disclaimer: One of the developers of Waymarkr has the same name as me, but I am not him. I discovered them while EgoGoogling myself. ;-))

    By Blogger -.--.--, at 8/02/2007 10:10 a.m.  

  • Mike - How serendipitous! Thx - I'll take a look now.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 8/02/2007 9:59 p.m.  

  • An addition to my system: Slogger for recording the full text of every webpage I visit.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 9/06/2007 1:18 p.m.  

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