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Justin Jacoby Smith is an organizer, web geek, Buddhist, and poet.

the mixtape, the Timeline, & ambient richness

Lifeloggers have long touted the “total recall” that’s achievable if you obsessively store and organize personal records: Never forget a thing! But Wegener has found that less can be more. When you show someone their year-old check-ins and nothing else, it’s a very crude signal—just a bunch of points on a map. But our brains seize these cues and fill in the details (even if inaccurately). It’s geolocation as a Proustian cookie.

Jonathan Wegener & some partners created an amazing and wonderful little tool called 4Squareand7YearsAgo that shows you the log of your FourSquare checkins from a year ago.

This practice we're starting (and now with FB Timeline radically expanding) of extracting data points to create our narratives is rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. Wired's Clive Thompson really gets at it above, I think, when he hits on "geolocation as a Proustian cookie." I'm reminded too of my seasonal construction of mixtapes: the extracted data points (songs) serve as dots which I can then, on later listening, use my own memory to connect and imbue with meaning.

The Timeline, the mixtape, the geolocated traces of our presence--they'll never be the memories, but the collection of breadcrumbs will give us access to a specificity and richness we've never had before. Yes, we're offloading our memory to the machines to some degree. If offloading the quotidian gives us access to an ambient richness, isn't it a new and wonderful thing?