Lifeloggers: recording of our history

Plunged into a condition that when looking up they would admire the sky and when looking down they would face the land, primitive men lived between opposite conflicts, from earliest discoveries to the search of their true existence, trying to express their origins.

This situation really fascinates me because I see that we have been this way so far. Since the beginning, man wanted to leave his mark, tell his story. Even when communication was not spoken or written as it was based only on gestures, men were eager to express and tell about themselves, and they would draw their daily lives on the walls of caves in order to pursue it. Those men were superficially common and extracted their ignorance out of themselves. However, they aspired to undertake the search despite the obstacles, since their lack of self-­‐awareness was a hard burden to carry.

Thousands of years have passed, but to man it was part of a daring game to discover the world. Discovering and revealing himself at the same time have turned him into his biggest quest. In this context, the primitive cave paintings were replaced by the ingenious art of men who, by carving, painting, playing, singing, writing or dancing, demonstrated their essence in the inspiration of their moments as a way of telling history with a twist of emotion, feeling and culture. Man, full of creativity and imagination, creates art by seeing it as a way of spreading his beliefs while exploring new ways of observing and interpreting the world around him.

All information generated knowledge and knowledge brought power. Aiming to achieve this higher position, men felt the need to expand their searching and reporting horizons while dominating speech and writing. The press media did not exist yet and the few available books were handwritten. Each copy took months to be prepared; their high price was inaccessible to most. Few who had that access stored knowledge as mental treasures, becoming a sort of “human hard disk”.

Stories were told as knowledge was passed down from father to son, dividing teaching thoughts between two isolated branches: one purely philosophical and prepared in ethical concepts, the other empirical or practical aiming person’s preparation for life. The act of educating was based on “being” used for formation and maturation of man and the quest for his own complete or perfect attainment. It was a gradual transition from potential to act, from childhood to adulthood. This was a wonderful time that looked into science searching for a noble end in itself, without a specific goal that in the end would often become more important than the act of knowing – as we have seen throughout history. At that time people were advised to consider all scientific knowledge without getting ashamed for “learning from anyone” and “not despising others” after having attained the knowledge.

The story progresses, and in the Middle Ages we have German Johannes Gutenberg. I take the liberty of considering that Gutenberg, an early reader (even with the diculty of finding materials in his times), was also creative and successful and, above all, a dreamer. As a sometimes waning, sometimes full moon, he would behave in a burlesque and spontaneous, more intuitive than strictly logical humor. Gutenberg created the press and since then the way people communicate and obtain information has changed. Written words could be accessible to the mass, ie, to all who could read, making them unforgettable, unconventional, provocative. Printed, the words would rise the hunger for life contained in the books and novels, the thirst for knowledge, the passion for new ideas and information that surprise us as everything that is new. And until the new becomes common and common looks so old that is no longer worth it, people would remain confused yet dazzled.

In fact, what is new seems to turn our heads, and its ambiguous character surprises us as we recognize it in ourselves, as if it was a mirror that reflects our wills and desires, our thirst for creating in our world. If we focus on ways of communication, we can see that the new reappears several times throughout history. Letters, photography, telephone, television, and not that much recently the Internet are examples of these forms.

It is interesting to reflect on the impact that new technologies have brought to people’s innate desire to express themselves. As I first mentioned, since the dawn of humanity, man is eager to leave his mark. However, while before he would seek inventive ways to record a brilliant idea or passage of his life, the current generation does the same often unawarely. I nominate this internet generation as lifeloggers.

Every day, people (myself included) register experienced events. In many social networks, we “input” thousands of times, creating a kind of electronic journal through photos, videos, posts and blogs. By using our laptops or smartphones, we do it anytime, anywhere. We just have to want it. And we always do.

Not surprisingly, while identifying lifeloggers’ needs for expressing themselves, big companies like Google and Facebook have created or adapted existing tools in order to satisfy them. With Google Docs, Calendar and Google Search you have everything you need to store knowledge, to search for information and to remember important dates and appointments; with the new Facebook Timeline, writing our everyday history has got much simpler.

For man, the quest for communicating, obtaining knowledge and passing it on sums up not only to promoting his world’s improvement, but also as a nectar that relieves his pain while he seeks understanding of existence beyond himself. Registering his story, writing in blogs and social

networks, posting videos and exposing their own ideas are common behaviors in our daily lives. For example, I see myself writing every day something about me, my life or my routine. When I met Regis MacKenna, Steve Jobs’ great guru, surprisingly I heard the same thing: for 50 years, he has been composing and recording his ideas daily. He told me he does it as a way of understanding his present. Looking back at his past in an attempt to live the future.

I like to believe that when we do this electronic journal we are creating our own immortality. I think so because when our life is done our history will go on in social networks, through our “virtual being”. People can read and reread our experiences, relive memories and leave messages. We’ll keep fond memories and stories of our friends forever. Depending on the wealth of this information, our children may use them as a learning book, a guide to base their future decisions. With such attitude, consciously or not, we’ll be influencing generations.

As I conclude this article, I know that somewhere in the world, at this moment, someone is writing a text, recording a video or taking a photo with the intention of posting it in a social network, exactly the same way as early humans did with their drawings in caves, wishing like us to tell a bit of their history, aspiring to be remembered, commented, “liked”.

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