Friday, February 23, 2007

Some Issues in the Long Term

Issues in the long-term.

Discernment and constructing character: Through this customized storage and editing process one is directly able to construct one’s personal history. We can take out sad experiences and choose to store pleasant ones. In the throes of our emotions we may, out of comfort, choose to live without the memory of a lover’s deceit. In doing so though we also forget the valuable lessons “learned” from such an experience, thereby allowing ourselves to become susceptible to falling into the same sad experience once more. How would one judge whether certain “hard” memories are worth keeping, or any memory for that matter. The wisdom and discernment the person has previous to the surgery is the one that will guide these sorts of decisions on which to keep and which to delete. This person must then have a great and holistic sense of themselves and their ability to shoulder the burden of daily choosing which memories they would like to include in their personal history. If we concede the idea that our personal history shape our character and more so in this case as the person reviews his/her personal history just as the day begins; then the subject then has the ability to shape or propagate a character out of the mold of the memories he/she has stored. The temptation to create a persona you desire may be big or small and results of this sort of presenting or framing yourself can be analogous to the postings of carefully selected pictures, interests, and recording on internet characterizations of people on The Facebook and MySpace. This may also happen inadvertently as the person reviews the memories for the day and comes to the conclusion that his memories are devoid of happy ones thereby saddening the person mood.
Success is then knowing ourselves, and trusting the construction of our character is true to our personal ideals.

Interfering with life:
Shortcuts: A temptation for one having to deliberately record, review, and edit memories day in and day out for years on end would be to develop a system that would allow the most convenient and practical methods of recording. At the end of the day you know that you must look through these memories to decide which ones are important and to lighten the load of material you must look through you would tailor your storing process to reach a sort of efficiency. Would this drive for efficiency get in the way of your social interactions? How do the recording media restrict your ability to get at the ideal efficiency in recording?
Tailoring: In order then to catch the memory or experience the best, you must use the media most effectively. Whether this means developing excellent descriptive writing skills, photography tricks, or tweaking the audio recording device; you are still mediating this memory through a device thus tailoring the actual event/experience to fit the parameters/restrictions of the recording devices. In effect, you are shrinking or altering your experiences so they will fit the constraints of the media. You would not be experiencing life as it is but as you imagine you would like or need it sometime in the future.

Purpose: If this then is the goal of our external memory – to record for memory’s sake, how do we decide which memories have priority over others? Should we look to keep more fond memories or more functional/practical ones? What sort of toll would it take on a person if they knew the sole purpose for keeping these memories is to look back on them? Would they have the desire to pursue personal goals that stretch beyond a day? Would it even be possible to maintain goals simply by recording the fact that you have a goal? Can passion, goals and love be recorded so as to reignite themselves within you everyday? How difficult would it be to pursue a relationship knowing that you must recall the counterpart’s name every morning? Is there enough space in your memory to maintain facts about other people even? What are the opportunity costs of doing this? All these questions naturally point to an overall motive or a purpose to recording events and experiences, a recording paradigm. With our limited time of existence what do we dedicate ourselves to accomplishing?

The Perfect Day: A final and somewhat unrelated point that arose during our brainstorming session was the idea creation. Say our goal in life was to enjoy it the best we could, day by day and to make each day the best it could be. So then our memories that we’d choose to store would be a collection of enjoyable or meaningful things one can do to enjoy the day. Once a stockpile of enjoyable and meaningful memories built up and after reviewing these memories and instructions on how to accomplish them, one would proceed to have the “perfect day”. If one so chose, he/she could continue to do these things day in and day out until other less forgiving measures stole your ability to enact this perfect day i.e. aging, finances, society, and people around you. To make it interesting we can believe the person lived on his/her own and so there would be little constraints on finances or pressures to fit into a working society. And within this perfect day daily sustenance and so forth are incorporated. Presumably then, for a given time one would be able to enjoy this perfect day, day after day until time came and stole him away.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

External Memory: The System

Wake up/Remember:

After you have had your surgery and you don't have any internal method for recording new memories you must use a new external system. Every morning when you wake up you must review your memory blog. There will be separate posts for each respective day as well as a special section for long term memories (this is where you would post things that are very important, or things that you would need to know constantly such as a bus route you just learned). You would refresh your mind with the days past and skim through the posts paying special attention to the long term memory posts because these should be the most crucial things you would need to function each day.


Once you are done with your morning memory refresher you begin the recording process of all your memories. Based on an outline and your own judgement you must decide which memories will be relevant, useful or special and which ones you don't really need to record. You will use an audio recorder, digital camera and note pad to record your memories. The audio recorder for sound, conversations, etc. The digital camera for faces, places, events and visuals. The note pad to record thoughts, feelings, or to annotate and give context to audio recordings or images. Throughout the day you would accumulate these memories and try to only record things that you will really need or really want to keep (especially considering that each morning you will review more and more material as days progress).


Once you get home and before you go to sleep you must import all of your recordings. As you import you must compare your recordings with your own memory of that day (you still have the days memory in your head til you fall asleep) and decide which memories can be deleted or manually "forgotten" and which one's you must keep or want to keep. Then from the relevant recordings you make a blog post for that day which shows all the information you recorded. That days blog entry will then become your memory archive for all things that happened that day. Then you will go to sleep and forget everything that happened.

External Memory: The Scenario

By contemplating the dilemma of not having a memory for 24 hours our group came across many difficult obstacles which we would have to deal with to create a reasonable project. We decided that it would be close to impossible to have a useful external memory system because you would need lists, artifacts, documents etc. of every place you have been, people you know, or things you need to know how to do... right at your fingertips to recall. This task would be near impossible and to create a working system which would make recalling these memories easy and functional within the context of all the rest of your memory would be extremely difficult. In order to have a useful and realistic final project after 3 weeks of work we decided to create a narrative of sorts which would limit the scope of the project to the future of your memory. We decided to treat the project like a new disorder you must adjust to.

Say you were having brain surgery on Tuesday and the doctor's told you that after the surgery you would not have any new long term memories from then on. You could remember things from that day, but once you fall asleep you lose that whole day and all memories after the surgery. So this means you would still remember everything in your life before the surgery, but you would need to catalogue your future memories to build a long and short term memory for the rest of your life. So on Wednesday when you wake up you must record your entire day and store that information so when you wake up on Thursday you will know what happened the day before. Then you would continually record and relive each of your days through this mediated catalogue of your memories. The records will be stored in a blog like this one which you can edit and personally manage.

Mike's 2 hour test run

To better understand what our project was about and experience the act of having an external memory I decided to do a 2 hour test run using the same audio, visual and note recording that would be in our final project. Here is a website archiving my experience.

From this walkthrough I realized that although I was self conscious at first speaking aloud to record memories with the audio device, this method actually worked very well. It was less intrusive and allowed me to experience things while recording them, where as with the note pad I would have to stop what I was doing to take notes. I couldn't eat my lunch because I had to keep on writing down my ideas, but then once I got the recorder working it was much less of a hassle. I also realized that I didn't take as many photos as I thought I would have. I think this is because the camera was too subjective, I would only take boring snap shots like the walgreen's sign or a snowman. I could have been more artistic with my photographing, but that would not have aided in me remembering those places or events. I think that through this test run I realized that audio seemed to work best as far as recording goes. This may have changed based on the situation. For example if I was in a very visually interesting setting, I may have better and more relevant pictures that I would want to keep, but audio seemed to be best for this runthrough.


Went to dinner and most of the house kept asking questions about the recorder and actively harassed me simply because of the recording.

Audio Files


Met up with Jeff to drive back to the house.

Saw Bob on the way home and gave him a ride.


Went to CS 498.

Talked about scientifically accurate worlds.

Dev session tonight at 6-8.

Assigned Mahmud and Woong Gyu to work on CEGUI.


Showed up to CS 411 late.

Lecture is about SQL code. Lecture slides and video are on website.

Class let out early.

Audio Files (includes following classes.)


Missed CS 257. Had lunch instead.

Audio Files


Worked on CS 411 on my desk.


I get out of bed.


Alarm goes off on computer, playing Eric Clapton.


I finally get to sleep. Set alarm for 11 AM.


Dave, Justin, Steve, and I head to Meijer.

I record almost everything.

Audio Files


Dave asked if I wanted to go to Meijer.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Realized the audio recorder was on the wrong input. Real recording starts on track 7.


Just arrived at meeting.

Listened to John Mayer Trio - Another Kind of Green in the car.

Saw a fight on Springfield between 5th and 6th.

Saw Mike Hull walking home.

Ran into Kang and we had to look for the room again.

Began using the audio recorder.

Mike will be getting a card reader at around 8 tomorrow.

Audio Files


Meeting with Mike and Kang in HCI lab in Siebel (map) in 5 minutes.


Watching The Boondocks - "A Huey Freeman Christmas"

Hosted on Griegs on the network.


Watching Battlestar Galactica Season 3 Ep. 15.


Starting project.

Professor Kwiat was over for dinner today.

Mike Hull brought a friend over.

Told Collison, Vlad, John, and Gesualdo about the project. They promised to harass me during recordings.

Been listening to the Eric Clapton discography all day.

Currently listening to the Happy Happy Birthday Eric album. Apparently it's a huge jam that Clapton just decided to record on his birthday in the studio. It even has Bob Dylan on a few tracks.

Remembering blind memory

How I experienced the world:
Initially, I felt very handicapped. Very quickly realizing the extent to which the seeing rely on this faculty in ways I never would have guess if I were to simply ponder on what it would be like to go blind. At this point Kyle, Mike and I were still just sitting in our chairs brainstorming.

During this hour of blindness my other senses came to life, but only after a conscious move to begin storing memory through touch, smell, sound etc. Before this sort of acclimating to my newfound blindness I was trying to fabricate a visual memory through a combination of my other sense along with some imagination. Since I had never been in the Speitz Lab, there was no spatial map or visual memory of how this building looks and how it would make me feel. For example, by feeling the sort and style of buttons in the elevator I could imagine how old the elevator was based on my visual database of button styles and the estimated era of their production. This visual fabrication would become apart of every thing I tried to experience with my hands. All objects in my mind then were constructed by bricks of previous visual memories and stereotypes. In effect I was tyring to make up for not having sight.

This then triggered thoughts on the discussion we had in class in regards to the provacativeness (in terms of memory) of pictures versus an audio recording. To myself, previously able to see, memories are stored in bundles of senses connected to varying degrees in time and space and so a picture of a girl laughing naturally evokes in my mind a sound of a girl laughing while an audio recording conjures up a related, visual thought or memory.

How I felt looking at the pictures: Initially it was quite shocking. It felt as if somone had stolen my body while I wasn't thinking and made me pose in a building I've never seen before. Actually, I felt so removed from this memory that I didn't believe I was looking at myself for a little while. Then the visual constructions I had produced during the walk-through of the building were clashing with the actual appearance of the room, furniture, doors, etc.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Kang's Blind Memory Test

Here are images that I took as I walked Kang around through a building he had never been in before and he was blindfolded. This was a test run to see what it would be like if Kang saw a visual record of a place he had been, but could not remember the picture at all. By cutting out the visual memory Kang was forced to see what it would be like if he lost visual memory, this way he could have a better sense of what loosing all his memory would be like.