A series of strokes
What’s the difference between losing a memory because of a stroke and losing one because of “natural forgetfulness?” Or because of senility—which is what you call an old person’s natural forgetfulness.
Not much difference, I say.
The result is the same. A lost memory is a lost memory.
What about losing a memory because the memory was never recorded?
What about a memory that was recorded—say on paper—and now can’t be found?
They’re all pretty much the same—as bad as having a stroke.
I’m tired of having strokes.
What I want to remember
I don’t want to forget anything that I think is—well, memorable.
That’s what memorable is.
Sometimes I don’t realize that I want to remember it until later—when I’ve already forgotten it. It’s retroactively memorable.
But unless an experience is—well, unforgettable—I will forget. And I will forget even some things that I deem unforgettable at the time.
It’s a series of strokes.
I can’t trust my brain to remember. It’s a convenient, large-capacity, low cost, low resolution, low-quality memory device.
It fails to remember things that I want to remember. It says it’s remembered things, and what it says it remembered turns out to be wrong.
It remembers things that I don’t care about. It remembers things that I’d be happy to forget.
Memories on paper last longer than memories in the brain, and they are more reliable. But paper is inconvenient. You have to carry it around, and then you have to store it somewhere. It takes time to record a memory on paper. Paper gets lost. And there’s no good way to search through paper to find the memory that you want.
“You can’t grep dead trees,” the old saying goes.
Memories in photographs last longer than memories in the brain. They used to require a camera. And film. And a photo lab. And time to see if a photo was any good. And a place to store the pictures. And there’s no good way to search through a pile of photographs to find the memory that you want.
“You can’t grep dead pixels” the new saying goes.
But the digital camera in my phone is almost as handy as my brain. True, I have to make an effort, but it’s relatively small. And digital is forever.
Post it or put in in a Doc, and it’s forever enough. Nowadays there’s always a device within reach—not as handy as a brain, but nearly so.
And search is easy.
The only problem now is sifting through multiple digital stashes to find the one where you put that memory.
And you’ve got to make sure you capture the memory.
What I’d like
When I find something that I want to remember, I’d like to capture it effortlessly. And then I’d like to find it again easily.
That applies to web pages, ideas, and the world. I might need slightly different tools for each.
For web pages, I’d like to have a responsive web clipper that I can use to select text on a page, then have it capture the text and the URL that the text came from.
For the world, I’d like an always-ready, small camera and an easy, unobtrusive way to have it take a picture when I want. No clumsy camera. No dragging out my cell phone. Just tap and take, and automatically upload.
For books, I’d like to take pictures that are automatically OCRd. For ebooks, a simple sharing interface.
For ideas, a simple way to jot down a notion that doesn’t get in the way of what I’m doing.
What I’ve got
What I’ve got isn’t bad. It’s just that my chair in the sky isn’t as comfortable as I would like. So I’m going to design the solution I want for memory.
This post is long enough, so I’ll post about my solution later—possibly after I’ve got one.