Memory is a fickle thing. As far as my brain is concerned, I didn't exist before age three. Remembering four or five is easier, but there are holes. Thankfully, all it takes are some voyeuristic navigation tools to fill them.
Before there was random access memory, there was delay line memory. It was random in a different sense; it involved turning electrical pulses into sound waves, sending them through long tubes of mercury, and re-electrifying them at the other end.
You're looking at a woman who resembles your mother. She moves and talks like your mother, and she's even dressed the same as your mother. In fact, she is your mother. But you're absolutely certain that she's an imposter.
Imagine a format that lies somewhere between photos and video, and a device that takes that format automatically, without you having to click a button. Microsoft's SenseCam is a prototype that hangs around your neck, lifecasting everything you see.
All this talk about preserving digital legacies got me thinking: What about the bits we don't want to leave behind? Y'know, the risqué material? Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.
Just a few years ago there were no virtual social networks, no synchronized address books, and no smartphones. But people had social networks and phones, and they had to memorize and organize thousands of contacts. Or have a Rolodex.
It seems like something out of a movie (and hey, it is), but there's some scientific evidence that we actually carry the memories of our ancestors with us in our genetic code. Apologies in advance to my hypothetical descendants.
Before David Carr was my favorite NY Times columnist, he was an asshole.
So your hard drive just died, and you didn't back it up. I'm so, so sorry. You can expect to go through the following five stages once you discover that all of your photos, files and music are gone forever.
If you take the guts of a Blu-ray or DVD player, blow it up, and spread it across a work bench, it looks like this. So you might be surprised to know that you're looking at the future of storage.
Nothing brings up memories as smells do. In my case, it's the smell of plastic. Thousands of little colorful plastic pieces in cardboard boxes. Literally, all those memories live in a secure, temperature- and humidity-controlled, fireproof archival vault in Denmark.
It's easy to claim that the stuff you liked as a kid was way better than the crap kids watch today, because you haven't seen it in years. But now you can, in better quality, even. Does it hold up?
Talking with Bill Nye the Science Guy is like meeting your favorite HS science teacher in a bar—the conversation might flail wildly, but you learn something at every twist. This week, I picked his brain about, well, brains.
The Wayback Machine offers an incredible catalog of what the web once was. But unlike that beloved Polaroid of your dad donning tweed and an afro, anyone can access the skeletons in your digital closet, anytime. Here's our peek wayback.
Dave Pell, on what it means to have our heads in the cloud, as he puts it:
Consciousness lost, breathing stopped, pulse gone. Someone just slipped into cardiac arrest. In order to preserve the precious memories and thoughts at risk right now, we're gonna have to squirt some perfluorocarbon coolant up a nose and chill a brain.
There's something to be said for watching a concert with your own eyes, not mediated by the lens of a camera or the fuzzy screen of a cellphone, compulsively trying to capture it forever.
There's little action, no sound, and the footage is grainy. But this brief clip may be the only existing video of writer Mark Twain and his daughters Clara and Jean. It was captured in 1909 by inventor Thomas Edison.