A while back, vis-a-vis Borges, I wrote about lifelogging without knowing there was a name for it. Today I realize it was prescient — people have been experimenting with lifelogging, going around with audiovisual cameras slung around their necks like slack nooses, recording every minute of their lives. Apparently scientists have been talking about doing this for years.
Total documentation of a life; total recollection. The notion is so vast and so obtuse in my mind at the moment that I keep staring at the issue, blinking myopically at it, trying to see it in its true dimensions. Privacy and legal issues aside (a whole other can of worms)…on one hand it’s a perfectly logical progression from flickr, blogging, vblogging, del.icio.us-ing, the endless meta-documentation that is happening in furious magnitude around us every day. On the other hand…what if the meta-documentation burgeons to the size of the documentation itself? What if e.g. my RSS feedreader aggregates the feeds from every single webpage on the internet and thus becomes the size of the internet itself — what would be the point?
So I’m a little fearful of lifelogging — I have an odd sense of eschatology, a cul de sac, the icy and terrible perfection of an endgame. When the map is exactly the same size as the mapped — when it will take us exactly as much time to ‘recall‘ our lives as it does to live them — when the sculpture is indistinguishable from the woman — which is real, which is valuable, which is true? With lifelogging, life is literally a stage upon which we are all actors — but without a backstage behind the curtains. Are we widening the division between self and representation, or are we obliterating it altogether? If we are precisely what we represent, is there anything left of ourselves; is there a self at all?
And, implications for history: how can it be written at all? — faced with an infinite archive, how does one organize the search and selection of documents? Indeed, as with the internet and an internet-sized RSS, what would be the point? Lifelogging would turn history’s heartbeat into a flatline — every moment democratically equal to the next; white noise as valuable as Beethoven, and the damnable problem of historical selection amplified thousandfold….
Odd disjointed thoughts, and really, in no way coherent. Perhaps more later. In the mean time, this is cross-posted at the other place.