From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. At Microsoft, computer science pioneer Bell has worked with senior researcher Gemmell for years on a project called True Recall, which will allow people to create a "digital diary or e-memory continuously," something they predict will "change what it means to be human" as fundamentally as language development and the invention of writing. Based upon further development and integration of three already-extant technology streams (digital recording devices, memory storage and search engines), the authors have worked toward this "third step" in the development of human memory for a decade and a half. A number of issues will need to be addressed, including privacy; the authors distinguish between being a "life logger," with privately stored digital records, and a "life blogger," whose web posts are accessible to others (like friends or coworkers). Bell and Gemmell outline the tests they've run since 2001, scanning and then cataloguing for retrieval a mass of personal data (documents, photographs, books and articles, web pages visited, instant messages, telephone calls) and wearing miniature cameras that sense light shifts and take automatic photographs. Readers will be wondering about the consequences of "recalling everything you once knew" long after they put down this fascinating text, of particular interest to techies, but clearly written for general readers.
"I am not sure whether recording everything we see, hear and do is the landfill or landscape of our lives, because thoughts and memories are their own reality. But I am sure that Total Recall is a must read due to its inevitability, seminal nature and clairvoyant authors." -Nicholas Negroponte, author of Being Digital
See all Editorial Reviews
"Gordon Bell is one of the great visionaries in the computer industry. In Total Recall he paints a picture of a world where computing is far more personal than anything we have seen so far, where digital memory appliances supplement the human mind and store all the details of your life. Like much of Gordon's work it is a characteristically bold and exciting vision of computing. He takes us to a future which is just around the corner, but which would be hard to glimpse without him."
-Nathan Myhrvold, co-founder of Intellectual Ventures
"For decades, the tech world has been going gaga for "Moore's Law", which describes how much faster and more powerful personal electronics becomes over time, but in the last decade, most of the really big freakouts have been as a result of the explosion in our ability to capture and store data... What happens when being alive means being in record mode, for everybody? It's a change that is at once astonishing and imminent. Gordon and Jim are at the center of this kind of work, and just the guys to write the book."
-Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody
"Total Recall does a marvelous job of exploring first- hand the implications of storing our entire lives digitally. And just in time! -- the technology is already here and will be ubiquitous before we know it."
-Guy L. Tribble, MD, PhD, Vice President of Software Technology, Apple Inc.
"Economists, along with everyone else, will be astounded by the wide ranging social and personal benefits of Total Recall digital technology."
-Tyler Cowen, author of Create Your Own Economy
"As you warm to the ideas expressed in Total Recall, you find yourself reaching for your digital camera to record the moment just gone by."
-Donna Dubinsky, CEO of Numenta, co-founder of Palm and Handspring
"Wow! Thanks for this book. I've been fascinated by MyLifeBits for years; it's certainly inspired our thinking at Evernote."
-Phil Libin, CEO, Evernote
"Extraordinarily prescient but also entertaining...Total Recall is of paramount importance in the new, increasingly paperless world."
-Leslie Berlowitz, Executive Director of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
"Total Recall offers a prescient view of the powerful use of today's information tomorrow. Gordon provides provocative insights, entertaining stories, and fundamental advancements in recall enabled by tools readily available today that immediately enhance the capture, access and sharing of numerous forms of information."
-Jim Marggraff, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Livescribe, Inc.
"Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell paint a vivid and personal picture of a revolution that is already in progress, a revolution that will transform our future by making our past transparent. Clear, detailed, and permanent knowledge of ourselves and others will change the fiber of our lives and societies, pervasively, from meal planning to constitutional law. If we are blind to the implications, we'll be trying to solve the wrong problems with obsolete tools. Total Recall will open eyes, and the more, the better."
-Dr. K. Eric Drexler, author of Engines of Creation