I am a cyborg.
And cloud services help me remember my life.
We live our lives in moments, and as soon as a moment has passed, the memory of the moment begins to fade. That is, assuming we made a memory in the first place.
And when we die—as we will—all those memories will die with you.
Fortunately, I am a cyborg.
Not all my memories will fade.
Some of them will live on. Not to the end of time, but maybe to the end of the internet.
The old days
In the old days, my memories were hard to make, and most faded fast.
Facts that I needed to learn I'd press into my memory by repetition. That's how I came to know, for example, that 8 x 8 was 64.
As I lived life, only a few important details of an event would impress themselves strongly enough to be remembered even half an hour later. And only if I was "awake" enough to have formed any impression at all.
I might as well not have lived most of my day, most of my days.
Nearly everything about nearly everything quickly went by.
My recent attempts to wake up more aware, awake, mindful now help me make better, clearer impressions of more of those moments. But in the end, it's the same. Even when I see things that are—well, memorable is a good word—the memories fade.
Even if I say "I want to remember that," I will remember, at best, only a few details and most often only for a little while.
Why? Because, in the old days, my brain was limited. My memories were limited.
In her infinite wisdom, Mother nature developed algorithms that let me use my limited human resources in a reasonably effective way. Effective enough for my ancestors and then me to be alive today.
But not as effective as I'd want.
Fortunately, I have evolved beyond my primitive, human beginnings.
I am a cyborg
I am a cyborg, and I celebrate that fact.
Realize it or not, you are, too.
I am no less human than I ever was, but now I am more than merely human. Some of my memories still live in my head, where they fade, fade, fade as they always did. But now I have other places to store my memories.
Thanks to writing, we were able to store fuzzy memories in diaries and notebooks, in journals and files. Thanks to photography, in photo albums.
And we could retrieve them, but not easily. But now—praise be -- I can store my memories more and more completely and more and more easily in the cloud.
I'm no longer limited to remembering and easily retrieving what I can sense with my primitive, crude, evolved sense organs. I have new ones that complement the old ones. For vision, I have photographic sense-extensions that can record, in an instant, the detail that would take me hours to capture the old-fashioned way. Then I can store (memorize) the image, and it will persist with no degradation, pretty much forever.
My kinesthetic senses, which help me perceive my body's position and location in a small region of space, are complemented by my GPS-locational sense that can detect and record my position in much larger space (though with much lower resolution) and store the history of my position forever. Another sense can record some of what I hear (and some of what I don't hear) and save the auditory memory forever. With some visual detail loss, my video sense can record images in motion with sound and store them for later retrieval.
Part of what I am is stuck in this deteriorating 73-year-old body. That part of me will die when the body dies. But part of what I am -- some of my memories -- are found in the low-rez form in this body, and some are found in hi-rez form in the cloud.
My thoughts and ideas tied to this body are moving to the cloud as posts in this blog, emails to friends, chats in hangouts. They will all live after this body goes. And low rez versions of what I am will live on, for a while, through our kids, our friends, and others whose lives I have touched.
Google provides services that help me move some of my experience and what I am effortlessly into the cloud and, equally important, to retrieve them after they are stored. Google's services keep track of where I am (because I let them know), automatically upload the photos and videos that I take with my mobile devices, and upload the photos that I'm taking with my digital camera. Some of what I am is what I've learned, and some of what I've learned I've found in the cloud. I remember details that fade. Google helps me find the thread again through search history, chrome history, and other services.
Google Timeline is a new and awesome tool that helps me organize some of those memories to retrieve them as whole experiences, not just isolated facts. I first tripped Timeline a few months ago and found a record of our trip to Europe for Dana's wedding, complete with maps and photos.
Timeline keeps track of my location over time (or the location of my phone, anyway) integrates that information with maps, information about the world that it knows (like the names of restaurants and motels), and things that I have told it (like 47 Beeswax Line is "Mom's house") the pictures and videos that have been uploaded. Maybe other stuff.
Today, I remembered Timeline as I looked for something to write about and catch up on my posting. Went there. I went to the first day of our current trip, Jan 7, for which I owed a post. The image at the top is what I found.
I'll write about that day later (or earlier, depending on what time stamps you believe). There are parts of the story of that day that Google has not captured for me.
But today's big insight is what I ended up writing about: I am a cyborg.
I am a human/computer system.
I am more than a machine can be.
But I am also much more than the human that I used to be.
If you are interested in all the features of Timeline, you can go here.
If you are interested in more of the features of me, cyborg or not, you can subscribe. If you click the button below, I will sign up. Or my cyber-half will.