What’s the future going to be like? Search me.

I just had one of those “oh, shit!” moments, when the future opens up before you like the mouth of a whale, and all you can do is wait helplessly for your tiny raft to be sucked into its distended bowels.

I use gmail for basically every written communication I produce. Work, friends, relatives, strangers – everything. The benefit is that if I need to remember anything I ever wrote to someone else, or they wrote to me, I know I can just type a query into a seach box and bam, it’s right there in front of me. I also load my gmail onto my Powerbook via the POP3 interface, so it’s instantly searchable offline using Spotlight. The usefulness of this system is such that I already can’t imagine life without it.

Today, a friend mentioned an old spoken conversation we’d had, and I couldn’t quite remember how it had gone, and I suddenly found myself wishing I could search my spoken conversations as easily as I could search gmail.

And then I realised what’s going to happen. As mobile device storage goes up, there will be absolutely no technical impediment to just constantly collecting data about the world around us – images, video, audio. You will be able to search your entire life experience. Your own personal Google engine, constantly indexing and categorising the stream of data that your life produces without you even needing to be aware of it.

The potential utility of such a system is staggering, and so are the privacy and security implications should someone gain access to your personal databank. Nevertheless, it will soon be possible to store and index your life experience, and you can absolutely guarantee that some people are going to do it.

So here’s one that I’m going to throw open to the audience (if I actually have one) – what do you think are the implications of being able to collect and search every life experience you have?

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