New Documentary Zeroes in on Lifeloggers


If you do any speculating about the future of technology, you might notice one thing – that a lot of different devices and services are headed toward a sort of singularity. Facebook, fitness trackers like Fitbit, and other photo sites are all converging, as more and more people wittingly or unwittingly set out to record everything in their life. Now, that singularity has a name – lifelogging.

Lifelogging is an idea forwarded by Memoto, a company that makes a small, wearable camera that snaps pictures automatically, wherever you go, and stores them for you (so automatic, in fact, that there are no controls actually on the device – you just wear it and forget about it). It’s doubtful Memoto will stop there, though – the company is interested in the idea of data as much as images.

The idea of being able to see any moment – including the kind you wouldn’t think to take a picture of, or wouldn’t have been able to – is surely an enticing one for many who like to look back. But, the idea of comprehensive data is just as important – if you know exactly what your eating, sleeping, working, and exercising habits are like, you can change them more easily. Knowledge, after all, is power.

Memoto funded a documentary about lifelogging, called Lifeloggers. Made by Amanda Alm and Ville Bloom, two students from Memoto’s native Sweden, the documentary is a series of interviews with people involved in a lifelogging movement. The movement is as diverse as each person involved, but general ideas seem to resonate with each person – self-improvement and self-understanding. And, it’s not just a technological movement. The filmmakers found plenty of people who have been lifelogging well before Facebook showed up, some even recording each day’s events in massive binders for years on end  (sort of like scrapbooking taken to its extreme conclusion).

With things like Memoto and Google Glass, this kind of technology-enhanced lifelogging is going to be possible on an unprecedented scale. Just imagine the day when a device combining Google Glass and a fitness tracker comes out, and you’ll get an idea of how simple such a grand idea as lifelogging might become.

Reactions to this are inevitably going to be mixed, as is always the case with rapid change (and has social change ever been more rapid that what we’ve witnessed in the past 20 years?). It might be a little too much looking backward for some, while others are going to justifiably chafe at being recorded by who knows how many people around them. After all, lifelogging doesn’t just involve the lifelogger – we don’t exist in a vacuum. And, others might not necessarily want to be part of your permanent memory. That said, with how easy (and, more or less, unpreventable) lifelogging is going to become, it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be much the privacy-concerned can do about it. And that’s going to cause some friction.

But, the documentary lists some inarguable benefits of lifelogging. Specifically, a lifelog can take all of your habits and confront you with them. It’s a forced reckoning with yourself, with the assumption that a lot of people aren’t going to like what they see in those numbers (steps taken, calories burned, hours of television watched) on the screen. The hope is that this can help people to make healthier meal and exercise plans, and for many, that’s probably going to be true.

You can check out the documentary for yourself below, and see what you think about the ideas these lifeloggers have.

Lifeloggers from Memoto on Vimeo.

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