Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cost Benefits of a Total Recall Project

Not long ago, I read a post over at ProfHacker, the Chronical's Blog, on the 200 rule: Templeton suggests that we should write 200 words a day, a reasonable commitment, in order to keep our writing chops going. Many instructors, myself included, tend to write less during the school year. For myself, I have three classes this term with approx. 90 students. Since two of these classes are English Comp courses, I will have my hands full reading many, many term papers. But I would like to create this new habit of 200 words a day, and today is the first day of the rest of my life!

In all three courses this term, I am teaching the theme of Lifelogging or Total Recall based on the book, Your Life Uploaded, by Gordon Bell. The premise of this text is simple: digitalize and record everything in your life you possible can, download all that information onto a hard drive or cloud service, create a data base so you can start to search and track your e-memories. In the process, you will become clutter free, have a better account of your life and doings, can help your weak bio-memory and so on. The idea is inspiring and I have worked at implementing it in my own life. When I teach this theme, however, I tend to get two objections to the process: 1) I do not want to have my life public, and 2) it is too expensive.  Let me discuss each objection to this process.

1) Your Life Public:

I do not want my life to be publicly broadcast on the Internet! This is a fair objection but one that tends to miss the clear distinction between "life-logging" and "life-blogging." Gordon Bell makes this distinction clear at the beginning of this text when he states:

Those who put their lives up on the web for others to view are called life bloggers (blog being short for "web log"). I am a life logger, not a life blogger. That is, I log my life into my e-memory. I may be old-fashioned, but it strikes me as foolish to publish too much, especially to an unrestricted audience. (P. 20)

I agree with Bell, although I likely have published much more to the web about myself than he would. Indeed, I tend to be a bit of both: Life logger and a life blogger. But you do not have to broadcast your life to life log. Most of us life log as it it, but we do it on a smaller level. we take the occasional picture, keep the occasional voice mail message. Keep old letters, emails, papers we wrote in school and so on. So the question is not so much "do you life-log," but to what degree do you life log and have you made the digital jump yet?

2) It costs too much.

Poppy cock (I always wanted to use that word in a post).  I have found that I saved money because of my Total Recall work.  Indeed, I got rid of so much clutter and physical stuff that I was able to move into a small space.  This cost less in rent, utilities and just about everything!  I saved so much money.  And I enjoy memories more because I see them more by looking at pictures displaying across my computer and TV!  Also, I can find my memories super fast.  Regardless, let us look at the basics needed to start a total recall project:
  •  Purchase a scanner to scan pictures and documents you now have on paper.  You can use a smart phone application, such as Genius Scan PDF scanner, or a real scanner.   If you have a smart phone, you can get the genius scan, or a similar app for free, or you can spend as low as 100 for a portable scanner.  When I started my Total Recall project, I purchased a 100 dollar scanner and now I rely on my genius scan PDF scanner.  ($100 or less)
  • A computer that allows you to somehow organize, tag, and start to sort your info.  This is the most expensive expense, but in today's world, in Western Society, a computer is often a devise you likely have.  If you cannot afford a new computer, consider a used one.  Cost varies.
  • Time.  At the start of your Total Recall Project, it will take your time.  You need to scan, sort, and go through your stuff.  This takes time.  When I did it I spend my nights watching TV and scanning/tagging documents. I had boxes upon boxes of journals, pictures and memories to scan.  It took about over 3 months to complete most of the work.  I still have some pictures to scan actually and I am thinking of going to a business that scans images. So put your own price on the time.
That is all you really need to start your  Total Recall project.  The rest, a smart phone, super computer, massive storage (over 1 TB), and so on, are all icing on the cake.  If you want to spurge, the best devise for your e-memory/life-logging work would be a smart phone.  These range from $99 - $400.0 depending on specials, and contracts with a phone company.  But what makes the smart phone great is that it can support amazing applications that integrate the collection of memories, images, scanning, and other life-logging needs.  It also makes collecting of your memories easy and spontaneous. Some of my favorite smart phone Apps include:
  • Genius scan
  • Evernote (web, desktop and mobile app)
  • Momento 
  • moesnotes
  • reeldirector
  • voice memos
  • reQall
  • social media applications (Facebook, Google+, Foursquare, and so on)
  • food and health programs
  • exercise programs
  • headache trackers (I use iheadache for tracking my migraines)
And there are many more!  

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