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Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  269 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
In 1998, Microsoft computer scientists Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmel began a herculean attempt to record Bell's entire life digitally. Not only did they document every particle of his ongoing existence; they also incorporated a digital record of his past, including letters, records, photos, and memorabilia. Not surprisingly, their monumental, technologically sophisticated pro ...more
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Published June 1st 2010 by Recorded Books, LLC (first published 2009)
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Hugh Chatfield
No no - not the Arnold movie

This covers much of what Robert Sawyer covered in his Neanderthal trilogy.... the ability to store everything about your life - what you saw, what you read or wrote, what you heard - eveything.

However, this is no science fiction story - this is the real life activity of Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell researching how this might be achieved. Fascinating idea. In Sawyer's novel, crime was pretty much non exisitent. If you get accused of murdering someone on a particular day
Aug 06, 2015 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look into a future where everyone records every moment of their lives. This book was published in 2009 and the authors were on target with many of their predictions, though I believe their overall vision is a long way off. They seemed to overestimate the penetration and availability of wireless internet service. On a recent visit to Seattle I still had difficulties connecting my devices in some spots, let alone here in rural Indiana. Unless Google gets into the game or the government ...more
Sep 14, 2015 Alhamza.Fadil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Total Recall provides a glimpse of the near future. Imagine heart monitors woven into your clothes and tiny wearable audio and visual recorders automatically capturing what you see and hear. Imagine being able to summon up the e-memories of your great grandfather and his avatar giving you advice about whether or not to go to college, accept that job offer, or get married. The range of potential insights is truly awesome. But Bell and Gemmell also show how you can begin to take better advantage o ...more
Darin Strachan
Feb 25, 2014 Darin Strachan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting forward-thinking book. It not only gives one man's view of how technology will affect the future of everyday life - how we will live, work, learn, etc. with instant access to our basis of knowledge, pictures, sounds, and experiences - but how the tech industry sees the future and where the industry is focused. The main focus at this year's CES, the annual consumer electronics trade show, was the wearable devices that will lead this e-memory industry. If everything comes to ...more
Devin Partlow
So the author gives us a prediction 10 years from fruition. A prediction made 5 years ago. A prediction that we're supposed to be halfway to. A prediction that aint happenin'!

The author is what I like to refer to as an Einstein-ian Technologist, a person who sees big things if only we could realize a unified theory of technology. Sure 'life logging' would be great if we eliminated all competition and then all the then monopolies worked together to make the world a better place, but that's just n
Tina Ye
Feb 01, 2010 Tina Ye rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: technology enthusiasts
Recommended to Tina by: Amazon
This work is part personal journal, part manifesto, and part self-help book. Essentially, Gordon Bell tries to make a good case for the "inevitable revolution" towards "Total Recall" (caps, mind you) that will "force" us to "adapt" to it. His diction gives you a good sense of what's to come, sigh.

If you can stomach his single-mindedly evangelical agenda, you'll find that this book pursues some interesting ideas about the implications of recording as many details of one's life as possible. And no
William Winkle
Aug 30, 2011 William Winkle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gordon Bell stands out as one of the most influential people in the history of computing. Unlike how it may seem at first glance, this book is not an infomercial for Microsoft. It is a series of well-meditated observations and extrapolations about what will happen to us as we're able to make the digital recording of practically everything we experience part of our permanent and immediately accessible e-memory.

For sure, there are some gaping holes in Bell's narrative, not the least of which is ad
May 19, 2010 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book describes the adventures of computer entrepreneur Gordon Bell into the world of "lifelogging," which can best be described by the motto "capture everything, discard nothing." Bell long ago started saving all email (except spam), wears a pendant camera to automatically log photos of his surroundings, has all of his telephone calls archived as audio streams, and has converted all paper worth saving to electronic form. He has now added much more, including a complete medical history and p ...more
Michael Jones
Feb 01, 2013 Michael Jones marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I abandoned this book in the middle. Actually, ironically, I was listening to it in audiobook format and forgot to rip the first disc to my player! I had no problem entering the book at the second disc, but after listening to several hours of the book I had three revelations: (1) the author is right - we are inexorably moving toward what he calls "life logging" - recording in some way almost everything that happens to us. (2) There are a lot of ins and outs to "life logging", including legality ...more
Gary Lang
Aug 06, 2011 Gary Lang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a subject that I've always been fascinated by – collecting a representation of everything in your life that it is possible to store digitally. Gordon Bell has used what would be his retirement years to probe the boundaries of Extreme Personal Information Management. Making good use of what he describes would require an extraordinary combination of visualization, image processing, 3D modeling, collective intelligence, and a panoply of format processors capable of extracting mea ...more
"The coming world of Total Recall will be as dramatic a change in the coming generation as the digital age has been for the present generation. It will change the way we work and learn. It will unleash our creativity and improve our health. It will change our intimate relationships with loved ones, both living and dead. It will, I believe, change what it means to be human.

This book is based heavily on Gordon Bell's experience with the MyLifeBits research project - a prototype system to digitally
Mike Templet
Jun 22, 2012 Mike Templet rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I honestly never finished this book, but I lost it and haven't really cared enough to start looking sense. If I ever really do find it I'll most likely skim through the remaining chapters, give it a whimsical "hmm", and throw it behind me and over my head where it will lay wherever it lands for around a year. I did try my best to best into it. I find the subject of extending ones memory beyond the boundaries of the mind. I got the books in hopes that it would attempt to lay down some proficiency ...more
Keith Kendall
As I began reading it soon felt like an infomercial. Thus, I set it aside for a few days. but later resumed because it is a topic I am very interested in. For the rest of the book, I used speed reading techniques.

As a boy I dreamed of having a computer in the basement. I imagined that I could put it together from scrap parts. I had no idea how I could pay for the air conditioning bill, but knew that I had to do it. I imagined that it could be doing complex computations that would not be practica
Feb 24, 2012 Michelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psych
Microsoft researcher Gordon Bell is leading the charge to record every waking moment of your life (and even your sleeping ones) to digital media. *Total Recall* investigates what it would be like to be able to record and access all the data about your life anywhere anytime. Among other experiments, he wore a camera around his neck that took a picture automatically whenever the light changed, as when he entered a new room, and recorded his location via GPS; he tried out all sorts of health and me ...more
This book made me want to get rid of more of my stuff and record less! I'm into the Quantified Self but the idea of archiving it to review the distant past kinda creeps me out. I want a picture of today that I can use to direct my future. I don't want future generations to interact with a simulacrum of me. I'd rather be able to interact with simulacra of THEM! A lot of food for thought here but for some reason, I found this to be a very slow read.
Aurelia Brouwers
Wat een saaaaai boek. Echt waar, ik had er meer van verwacht. Bell heeft kennelijk een heel boek nodig om iets uit te leggen wat in een paar bladzijden ook wel verteld had kunnen worden. Daarnaast vind ik het allemaal wat overdreven. Letterlijk ALLES willen bewaren, van boodschappenbonnetjes tot alle websites die je hebt bezocht en wanneer en waar en hoe laat? Dat gaat mij een beetje te ver. Volgens mij ben je dan meer bezig met het organiseren van wat je allemaal doet dan überhaupt met leven. I ...more
Mar 12, 2015 Gurvan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, the authors are working for Microsoft and the companion website or the associated Facebook address have not been updated since 2012... What does that tell us?

Probably that the world is not really ready yet for a Total Recall Revolution. The trend might be here, but this is still not a commonplace attitude...

Interesting book nonetheless and only three stars because it read too much like a Microsoft ad at times...
Nov 14, 2013 Troy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
A book that any tech geek will love. Bell is a strong advocate for digital storage of everything... and I mean EVERYTHING! While I don't completely agree with his mentality on many of the topics, I still admire his passion for what he has developed and his vision for the future.

There are certainly many benefits to Bell's approach to a digital catalog of one's life, but there is something to be said for the impermanence of certain aspects of life. He does touch on the subject of forgetting painf
Thelma Kastl
Interesting take on where digital technologies will/can lead. Some sound promising- while others sound like a social menace. Perhaps there is nothing to fear but fear itself... but one must consider the implications of so much personal data recorded and stored in one place. This could be a liability.
Rana  Essa
الكتاب فى مجمله عبارة عن واحد بيحكيلك تخيل لو و لو و لو و لو..الحياة جميلة لو منسيناش ادق تفاصيلها.اللى عايزة هلاقيه بمجرد الرغبة انى الاقيه لأن حياتى كلها بأدق تفاصيلها متوثقة الكترونيا..كلام عن جمال التذكر الكامل حرفيا.وامثلة على انه يقدر يوفر لنا فرص أفضل لممارسة حياتنا وشغلنا وما الى ذلك.....شخصيا.معتقدش ان التذكر الكامل مفيد زى ما الكاتب بيحاول يوهم القارىء..ممكن تذكر جزئى عالى المستوى زى الموجود دلوقت على اجهزة الموبايل والكمبيوترات المكتبيةوالحواسب الشخصية لكن تسجيل حياتى تصويريا وكذا ملي ...more
Dec 06, 2012 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in paperless lifestyle and/or personal archival technologies
2012 has been my year of going paperless and aside from a collection of unread books, I think I'm actually going to make it. I've been scanning like crazy (no really - like crazy) and formulating long range archival/retrieval plans. Total Recall seemed both cutting edge and out of dates - all in one. Out of date (for me) because I'm on the leading edge of the e-memory revolution; cutting edge because his vision of where e-memories will take society are amazing.

It might be a bit much for a casual
Oct 04, 2010 Stephen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
I feel this book had a true bias, and motivation to spin e-memory as only positive. Unlike another recently read book called "Delete," "Total Recall" seems to only nod at the dangerous dilemma all cyber-users put themselves in. Yes, this ability to call up just about every aspect of one's life can be a good thing- but in an age of identity theft, internet stalking, social parasitic behavior- e-memory really only takes away from individualism and will remind us only of what is there to see on the ...more
The Conversation with Ross Reynolds Reynolds
Ross interviewed Jim Gemmell, co–author of "Total Recall," on the September 21, 2009 episode of "The Conversation."
Download the podcast here:

In 1998, Gordon Bell began to digitally record as much of his life as possible. Today the technology makes it easier for everyone to track their lives. What is gained from having the specific data of your life recorded and at your disposal? How could data mining the facts of your life improve your life? What if someone s
Feb 23, 2012 Dave marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I am an information hoarder. If I learn something, however trivial I want to be able to recall it later. This book sounds like it has some interesting (if extreme and perhaps scarey) ideas on technology that can do this.

"...exploring first- hand the implications of storing our entire lives digitally... the technology is already here and will be ubiquitous before we know it."
-Guy L. Tribble, MD, PhD, VP Software Technology, Apple Inc.

Video here:
Apr 03, 2010 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is worth a skim, but there's not much meat. The idea of being able to save everything you ever read, see, peruse, hear in your life in some digital media is a little creepy. But I have to admit, if the search of this material will be as easy as the author suggests it would be awfully useful to remember people's names, what was discussed at what meeting etc. I would also love to have a resource like this for some of my great great grandparents. Still, it's creepy.
Lauren Albert
Gordon Bell decided one day to record everything--and I mean everything possible. He digitized documents, photos. He recorded conversations. He snapped pictures as he went about his life. This book is his take on the future of such endeavors. What could we do with all of this information--good and bad? What technologies could be developed to make use of it? Digital memory is of no use, he understands, without smarter searching. Interesting. 10/09
May 02, 2010 Dax rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Imagine a time in what you can sit in front of the computer and review every important information about yourself. And if you want more detail you can point and click - that detail will show up on screen (...), besides all other information about someone could have interest in, including the ones that are not available today.", Bill Gates, 1990. This time is coming fast and this book will give a good insight about the impacts of having an integral memory
Rita Kay
A peek into the future of storing memories so that our lives can be the subject of total recall for our heirs. While some memories are worth storing, I can't imagine anyone wanting to know every detail of my life. I am interested in getting rid of stacks of records that could be stored digitally, and I think health information that could be shared with physicians showing daily and even hourly changes might be helpful to health care providers.
Matthew Harlow
May 11, 2012 Matthew Harlow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recommend this book to all gadget junkies, closet techies and organization adicts.

As I ran today listening to Total Recall on my smartphone with internet access, a camera, my planner and live links to facebook, twitter and linkedin, I ralized how close we already are to that technology.

If you want to stay anywhere near the cutting edge of technology or business or even life. This book is a must read.
Nick W.
Got a little long by the end. Book focuses on the benefits of capturing your entire life digitally and making it searchable. Also, it gives practical advice on how to start this process and makes a few predictions about how this could change society. I'm very glad I now have this perspective. My life could definitely improve as a result of some of the tips in here.
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