Sunday, May 15, 2011

If Life Had An Option Like "About This Mac:" A Thought Experiment

I'm always wondering how much we're able to remember or process about our day-to-day lives. How much can we really record? How much (and what?) is truly quantifiable?

This kind of thinking is such a product of our age, but I have this weird fantasy where I desperately wish that existence had a feature similar to "About This Mac," where you can learn, for example, how many battery cycles your laptop has been through. Except, you'd be able to find numbers about almost everything in your life. How many times in your life have you said the word "what?" How many cheeseburgers have you eaten? How many cheeseburgers have you eaten since you gave up vegetarianism on X/X/XXXX? How many times have you had sex?  What are the words you use the most in everyday conversation? How many hours of your life have you spent sitting at stoplights? How many pairs of shoes have you owned since birth? How many times did you say the words "I hate you" to your parents between the ages of 13 and 17? How many times, in your life, have you personally heard the song "Thriller?"

Clearly this is impossible, even for the most methodical of journalers, cataloguers and personal archivists, hoarders or strange savants. But it's something that frequently preoccupies me. If you were able to have access to this information, I imagine it would be at once scary, exhilarating, embarrassing, traumatic, interesting...the list could continue indefinitely, based on your personality and the kind of information you'd want access to about your existence.

Alternatively, my idea is that you could also get access to this catalogue or list or database at the very end of your life. I know I'd much prefer a run-down of my life's minutiae than a chat with St. Peter or an entrance into the light. Obviously, I have no ideas on where this information would be stored or how it would be accessed; this is just kind of a thought experiment, a cool "what if?"

1 comment:

  1. A lot of fringe people actually advocate for doing this kind of self-data-mining, but of course you have to develop ways to do the data capture first. It's in the works though.