Lifelogging and Self Quantization : the good and the bad

There is a growing practice: recording and storing all what you see or what you hear on a daily basis to capture the most of your life. This is not really new and it already has a name: lifelogging.
Due to my activities I feel concerned by this new trend, so I would like to share some of my thoughts.

How people log their life

There are several ways to log your life, some are not new at all and others take it to the extreme level with the help of technology. You will find a non exhaustive list of manner to do it below, but, first you must understand that life logging and memories are deeply linked. Every time you take vacation pictures or write an article about what you saw, it’s considered as a kind of life-logging. The only difference with the practice we are discussing is that you don’t do it in a consistent manner but only for “special” reasons.

  • text: let’s take the example of a diary : recording your feelings, your thoughts and what you remember of your past days via texts is definitely a way to log your life.
  • audio: some people record everything they hear by taking a tape recorder with them everywhere. Even an iphone app already allows that.
  • analytics: recording stuff such as your weight or how much time you spent on the phone everyday is a form of life logging. We learn to do that early : when you were a child you often saw a pediatrician who records many things about you. In this case, the frequency is too low for a lifelogger. A better example of lifelogging through analytics is what Stephen Wolfram did.
  • picture: Taking pictures regularly of what you have in front of you is an efficient way to log. This could become  popular very quickly: Memoto, a kickstarter project of a portable camera, enjoyed a big success. It earned 11 times what they claimed, up to 550 000$.
  • video: video recording every moment of your life is the most extreme way of lifelogging. Some of these lifeloggers likes to broadcast their life 24h/24, 7d/7 but this has another name: lifecasting.

Life logging through pictures

Community

A community around this theme already exists. An active blog is dedicated to the subject and the community has its stars : Gordon Bell which ran a project called MyLifeBits about the subject, Stephen Wolfran, author of Mathematica, who lifelogged his life through analytics and Steve Mann, a pionneer, that started recording his life through a camera in the 80’s. Further more, with the rising number of self-trackings apps and the success of Memoto, we can expect that this community will keep growing.

memotoMemoto Camera

Self quantization

A few words about self-quantization. It’s a form of life logging but it does not have the same purpose. With self-quantization, you measure day-by-day some of your personal “parameters”, the most obvious ones are your weight or sleeping time, but you could quantize your cafeine consumption too… The objective is to achieve performance goal, to try to stop/diminish bad habits or simply to know yourself better. Of course various objects can help you in this task. See this dedicated blog for more.
NB: Softwares can use these data to help you in your decisions by giving you some advice. It looks similar to the Business Intelligence principles applied to individuals.

stephen_wolfran_email_activities

Social tools

Emails, collaboration tools and social networks are a form of lifelogger, when you do an interaction it is stored somewhere. Moreover, it becomes a collaborative lifelogging, because your contacts talk about you. Facebook team understood this by providing you the timeline, the activity log and the choice to post “life events”, such as the first time you wore glasses. Aggregating these trackings from every social media or tools you use would define you as an efficient lifelogger (Locker Project aimed to do that).

Gordon Bell doesn’t recommend Life Logging through social networks. But distributed ones that respect privacy which consequently will lead us to more intimate sharing and more logging.

NB: Max Van Kleek does great research about virtual personal assistant and talk about atomate, a software that uses your personal and social data to do automatic actions. In the same spirit, a company named Tray will provide  service around emails.

ownbits

Benefits

  • The most obvious one : it avoids the loss of memory, you can remember your whole life.
  • Make self improvement easier: you can set goals and see your progress. Having the whole picture of your problems and identify the wrong patterns helps tou to make the right decision.
  • Aggregating analytics from a lot of lifeloggers may improve studies like medical ones.
  • Allowing a software to take advantage of this data could help lifelogger to do more.

Drawbacks

  • This violates privacy of others : by logging your life, you log the life of others.
  • See ourself as a machine :  over self-watching could lead to more stress, endless suffering (always a bigger goal to achieve) and a lack of self-esteem by comparing too much with others. At last, It could make you appear less spontaneous.
  • The fact that we forget is not only a bad thing, the selection made by our brain is not useless:  with lifelogging there are possibilities of reviving bad events, secondly there is a good chance that you will be surrounded by data overflow.

My short term prevision

  • Reality shows will look boring compared to lifecasting channels.
  • Depending on the job, recruiters will ask you some personal analytics.
  • Social networks will allow to share continuous photo streams.

Science Fiction

To finish this article, here is where lifelogging could lead us in a thousand years (or less):

  • In a world where every one lifelog and shares his life, anyone could act as a god: seeing what everyone is doing on earth and commenting on it. But in that case, we would probably live in a 1984-like world.
  • We will see android that try to replay a given life in a new context. What would happen if Brad Pitt was born in another place at a different time ?
  • We will see androids that act as human because they will base their decision from what they learn from human lifestreams.
  • Amnesia will be cured through lifelogging.

NB: Why i’m interested in this trend

I’m not an extreme lifelogger, but like a lot of people I log a lot of stuff through my blog, my Facebook and Twitter accounts, my note manager and my todos. For the moment, the two tools I work on are actually life loggers. Newebe, like any social network, records all your social interaction. Cozy Cloud , which is a personal cloud, put all personal web apps in the same place: notes, bookmarks, feeds, banking.. that serves as an efficient personal data store. Both of these tools could be use efficiently by lifeloggers to achieve their goals, they have different functions that is connected to the lifelogger community.

Distributed Social Networks digest – january 2013

Newebe version 0.6.0 released

Newebe new version is out ! Newebe is a social network where each user is independant, this provides several advantages such as data ownership, speed, ad-free… In a few words, we can say that using newebe is as good as talking around a campfire.

campfire

This version, the 0.6.0,  aims to fill a hole noticed on every social network : open file publishing. None of the major ones propose to share his open files with his contacts. Fortunately, now you can do it with newebe !

Of course it comes with a whole new set of features :

  • Contact tagging (contact lists)
  • Full-text search for your microposts
  • Python packaging, made by Majerti during PyconFR Hackaton
  • Config file refactoring, made by Majerti during PyconFR Hackaton
  • Public profile page (proof of concept)
  • Fabric installation script
  • Debian package

This upgrade requires to re-setup newebe from scratch (just keep your CouchDB installation), detailed instructions here.

Quick install (Debian) :

From your local machine :

apt-get install python python-setuptools python-pip
pip install fabric fabtools
wget https://raw.github.com/gelnior/newebe/master/deploy/fabfile.py --no-check-certificate
fab setup -H myrootuser@myhosturlorip

Or directly on your remote box (debian testing at least) :

wget https://github.com/downloads/gelnior/newebe/newebe-server_0.6.0-1_all.deb --no-check-certificate
sudo dpkg -i newebe-server_0.6.0-1_all.deb
sudo apt-get install -f

What’s next ?

Here is the roadmap for the next release :

  • front-end refactoring
  • desing improvements
  • UX improvements

Thanks to everyone who contributed to Newebe during the past 6 months !

See you soon on Newebe!

Photo from Jack Zalium

JDLL 2012 talks

A small post to share the slides of two talks I made @ JDLL about Newebe and Cozy Cloud.

Distributed Social Networks digest – october 2012

Winter starts well for DSN:

Distributed Social Networks digest – august 2012

Summer news for DSNs:

  • Tent is a new protocol for distributed social networks à la Newebe.
  • SàT has finally a real website!
  • Sneer is a DSN you run on your desktop focused on file sharing.
  • They introduce the concept of sovereign computing (sharing data and hardware).
  • App.net is  a social network where you pay to register, so they don’t need to sell your data.
  • By the way, the author has some doubts about federated social networks.
  • Diaspora launched a weird new project.
  • Jappix project has a new website.

Distributed social networks – july 2012

Here are some news of Distributed/Federated Social Networks :

Newebe @ LSM

Hey, I will be at Libre Software Meeting 2012 (aka RMLL) where I will hold two ligthing talks!

  • The first one will explain why Newebe is different from other social network, monday 12:15.
  • The second one will be about my startup project, Cozy Cloud, and will give you some hints on how to make organic web apps, tuesday 12:05.

See you there !

Image

Newebe version 0.5.0 released

Newebe finally reached the version 0.5.0! This one is a little bit special because now Newebe has the main features of the distrbuted social network I described two years ago. As you understand, this is a great satisfaction for all of people which helped to build Newebe! Sharing stuff without worrying about privacy issues is a real pleasure and we are glad to have made it possible.
But this should not be limited to a small bunch of users. So for the next release, we will focus more on adoption by improving installation process and adding popular features like file sharing or integration with other social networks. If you have any suggestions/requests feel free to write it in the comments of this post.

Now let’s speak about the new features! Here is the list of what comes with this release:

  • All connections (with browsers and between contacts) are based on HTTPS.
  • Notes and pictures can be attached to microposts.
  • Data from posted microposts can be saved in your Newebe notes.
  • Theming: you can put your own CSS and change the way your Newebe looks like.
  • Easy installation script for Debian-like distributions.

NB: For newcomers, if you want to see Newebe in action you can try our demo (password: newebe) or install it in a way we recommend. If you need any help, refer to the installation guide or ask for assistance on our mailing-list.

4 ways to host your own Newebe

The blocking point to start using Newebe, the real distrbuted social network, is the fact that you need to host your instance on a server. To be honest, actually I haven’t found an easy way to deal with that, but I propose here the most straightforward solutions to that problem.

1. Host it on an online box

Rent an online box from a provider like Online.net, OVH, Rackspace… After you did that you will have your own dedicated server available from every where. For this server, chose an Ubuntu or Debian distribution and run the newebe installation script. Good news, you’re done ! Connect to your Newebe through your browser to : http://ipadressofyourbox:newebeport/

2. Host it on a plug computer at home

Most recommended choice but hardest to set up: buy a plug computer (like a Sheeva plug or a Dream plug) with a Debian or Ubuntu distribution and plug it to your local  network (use an ethernet wire to connect your plug to your provider box). Then connect to it through ssh. Run newebe installation script. Finally, routes the port you chosed for your newebe to a port of your box that you will make available everywhere. Done !

3. Host it on your local machine and make it available through pagekite

What is pagekite ? Pagekite is a simple solution that allows people to give access to a local server from everywhere just by running a pagekite software. So you don’t need specific hardware. If your OS is Ubuntu, simply run the Newebe installation script on your main computer. Choose default port for newebe (8000) then read Pagekite howto . When pagekite installation is complete your newebe will be accessible from a url like this one http://newebe.gelnior.pagekite.me/ .

4. Host it on your friend box

If all of that sounds too technical, simply ask to one of your friend to host your newebe. So you will try it. Once you will love it, the effort needed  to set up your own server will be worth the deal!

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