Total Recall

Total Recall Cover

Total Recall

How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything

By Gordon Bell; Jim Gemmell

Dutton Adult, Hardcover, 9780525951346, 304pp.

Publication Date: September 17, 2009


What if you could remember everything? Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell draw on their experience from their MyLifeBits project at Microsoft Research to explain the benefits to come from an earth-shaking and inevitable increase in electronic memories. In 1998 they began using Bell, a luminary in the computer world, as a test case, attempting to digitally record as much of his life as possible. Photos, letters, and memorabilia were scanned. Everything he did on his computer was captured. He wore an automatic camera, an arm-strap that logged his bio-metrics, and began recording telephone calls. This experiment, and the system they created to support it, put them at the center of a movement studying the creation and enjoyment of e-memories.

Since then the three streams of technology feeding the Total Recall revolution digital recording, digital storage, and digital search, have become gushing torrents. We are capturing so much of our lives now, be it on the date- and location-stamped photos we take with our smart phones or in the continuous records we have of our emails, instant messages, and tweets--not to mention the GPS tracking of our movements many cars and smart phones already do automatically. We are storing what we capture either out there in the cloud of services such as Facebook or on our very own increasingly massive and cheap hard drives. But the critical technology, and perhaps least understood, is our magical new ability to find the information we want in the mountain of data that is our past. And not just Google it, but data mine it so that, say, we can chart how much exercise we have been doing in the last four weeks in comparison with what we did four years ago. In health, education, work life, and our personal lives, the Total Recall revolution is going to change everything. As Bell and Gemmell show, it has already begun.

"Total Recall" provides a glimpse of the near future. Imagine heart monitors woven into your clothes and tiny wearable audio and visual recorders automatically capturing what you see and hear. Imagine being able to summon up the e-memories of your great grandfather and his avatar giving you advice about whether or not to go to college, accept that job offer, or get married. The range of potential insights is truly awesome. But Bell and Gemmell also show how you can begin to take better advantage of this new technology right now. From how to navigate the serious question of privacy and serious problem of application compatibility to what kind of startups Bell is willing to invest in and which scanner he prefers, this is a book about a turning point in human knowledge as well as an immediate practical guide.

Total Recall is a technological revolution that will accomplish nothing less than a transformation in the way humans think about the meaning of their lives.

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About the Author
GORDON BELL, one of the world s preeminent computer scientists, is a principal researcher at Microsoft. He lives in San Francisco and Sydney, Australia.

JIM GEMMELL, senior researcher at Microsoft, has been working with Bell since 1995. He lives in San Francisco."

Praise For Total Recall

"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

Total Recall


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