Saturday, May 26, 2007

Life - stored in computers

Computers are fantastic for data storage, but there's so much more than can do. I've long followed the work of Gordon Bell, a 72-year-old Microsoft engineer who is gathering all the elements of his life into a digital storage system. His project, My Life Bits, is sponsored by Microsoft. Bell's biggest challenge is to come up with a meaningful use for such a powerful collection of life's flotsam.

You can read a fresh account of this project by Alec Wilkinson in the 5/28/07 New Yorker. More to the point, it might get you thinking about what you'd like to log as the memorable events of your own life. From the compulsive diaries of Samuel Pepys, the attention and introspection of such records is surely a noble effort, but I fear, one that I'd be incapable of stopping once started.

Another Microsoft researcher, Eric Horvitz, has intriguing ideas about creating a computer that could think like us. His Lifebrowser project uses a computer to do so much more than we've ever thought of. When computers are still, he feels they could be put to use to understand our minds, catalog and organize our memories, and " help you be a better you."

My personal commitment is on a much smaller scale. Using a Palm LifeDrive I'm able to capture more than 4 GB of data - all contacts, calendars, photos, books, business files in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, accounting, wi-fi, email, web pages and more more more. I'm listening to MP3 recordings of a conference I attended last month, simultaneously taking notes and researching web sites of the speakers.

It's a fantastic adventure to stretch technology and my mind til they converge in a smarter place. We live in a marvelous age.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Release Your Writing"

Good news for writers interested in publishing a book. I am completing my manuscript for Release Your Writing: Options in Self-Publishing and will have the book available for the Cultural Center Book Fair in October. Learn more at

Another nice award

After winning a non-fiction award for Computer Ease in 2006 at the Illinois Women's Press Association, I'm doubly pleased to have won 3rd place for Best Essay this year. It is for my contribution to The World Is a Kitchen, published by Lonely Planet's Travelers' Tales.