Dredging up the Past: Lifelogging, Memory, and Surveillance
What if I stored everything, what would it mean, what are the implications? We don’t know. —Jim Gemmell
An exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair popularized the idea of preserving a comprehensive depiction of human life in a compact medium of storage. The Westinghouse Corporation stuffed a remembrance of America into a glass container sealed inside an 800 pound, bullet-shaped canister made of copper, chromium, and silver.2 Today, we use the term “time capsule” to describe just about anything intended to preserve the past for the future. The original Westinghouse time capsule housed specific articles selected by a committee formed to design an optimal record of national life for retrieval in five millennia. The Westinghouse Committee stocked its time capsule with small commonly used articles, textiles and materials, and miscellany including books, money, seeds, and scientific and electrical devices. The Committee also elected to store documents on microfilm, a newsreel of current events, and messages from Albert Einstein and other “noted men of our time.” In case the world forgets, a time capsule affords a means to remember.