- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Dutton (September 17, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525951342
- ISBN-13: 978-0525951346
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #819,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything
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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
"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
Top customer reviews
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This is a light read and is not a technical book. It is aimed at the masses, not the technorati. I'm a retired Microsoftie so probably not the target audience but I still found it interesting. And I have started scanning and then throwing away a lot more stuff after reading this book.
I thought it was worth at least 2 stars because I am very interested in the subject of easily storing and recovering memory. After reading this book I still haven't learn anything new that wasn't already learned from the tech we have currently out. That's why I got the book, for something new on the field. It left me very unsatisfied.
Today, that's coming true. Not from angels writing it down in a books on high, but self reported GPS, tweets, posts and purchase records.
"Total Recall" is a hand on look at just how close we are.. and why most of us will want to embrace this.
I read it cover to cover. Now in my 5th career, author, many times I've found my memory lacking (character attributes, where did I reference her parents, his quirky habit, what book/chapter in the series--if only my e-memory were in place). With each book, I create more and more piles. Being a piler I gained insight into how I can minimize the clutter and find more information as a result. Because of the way they set up the "Annotated References and Resources" I can easily dip in to get help on my current organization issues.
A fun read.
mj:) Author, "Murder in the House of Beads, Intercept, and Checkmate"
'Everything' consists of a much lower resolution then reality. Just digital images (scan, photo, a small bit of video), perhaps audio, and text. Not 24/7. No stereoscopic images. Nothing 3-D. No touch, smell, taste. No shiny gold-tape playback of e-Memories like in the movie, 'Brainstorm.'
'Total' consisting of some things we choose, some things we don't, some have legal issues.
Without a staff, interns, custom written software, hardware, and funding by a large corporation, it seems clear that 'Everything' and 'Total' will be boiled down to tiny e-Memories for most of us.
The premise is great and the current delivery may not be here, doesn't mean that this discussion isn't worth the read. I like the book for revealing so much about where current technology could go. Setting the goal for, 'a lifetimes worth of data' brings in very interesting issues. Perhaps, greater usability could come from intelligent built software for managing data. The less maintenance one does, the greater the benefit. A good example is automatic time and location stamping of digital photos.
The book does cover some interesting concepts about how embedded and integrated technology could have a greater impact on our lives. Though it seems to shy away from the corporate economic hold that technology has on individual data. Who owns your data? How private is private? How secure is it? Will it be accessible at a future point? How does it all get paid for? Will we sale Ad Space to support our e-Memories? Will people make comments on your e-Memories? Do people really want to spend time collecting data about their lives?
The methods described don't really address people who already do keep handwritten or visual journals. An area that technology has found difficult to solve. Yet, Leonardo Da Vinci's journals are some of the most interesting records of man we have from the past. Not because it tells us what his heart rate was, or which streets in Milan he walked, but because his creative thinking was captured in drawings and text. I believe that until common technology supports direct input of handwriting and drawing, it'll be difficult to have paperless e-Memories.
According to the authors, having a digital version of something, means you discard the original. Difficult for me to believe? Just because there's a digital copy of the Mona Lisa, I would not throw the original away. Even the author makes the point in getting started (Page 204) that an important task is to, "Third, make a print version of your interactive data." Paper requires no power source to access and no decrypting. There is a bit of irony, that the authors printed a book to discuss everything becoming digital and paperless.
It isn't just the software formats that become inaccessible, but also the physical format. Floppy disk and SCSI hard drives are losing the ability to connect with new computers. How far into the future will the current format of CDs and DVDs reach? How many different times will we purchase, 'Dark Side of the Moon,' or 'Snow White? ' Moving the data forward becomes more difficult the more you record and the idea that one has to keep converting it along, makes paper look the most stable storage. When I'm gone, who will keep converting my digital memories into future formats?
Current technology seems small when compared to how big and infinite the universe really is. Can our lives really be captured in a few bytes of data? Do these records constitute a copy of who I am? Even the vast Internet, as big as it is, is still missing a lot of data. How will the Internet deal with some of these issues? I like this book a lot, not for what it says as believable, but because I hope it will spark the conversation about how to make technology that serves the user. What is the lifelong format? How do I get my data out of software and formats that go obsolete?
This book frames the most important questions everyone should be asking about the function and purpose of technology in our lives. Do we want to spend our time creating, maintaining, and using any technology that gives us no control, integration, or future access?