The memories remain

I’ll start by admitting that I have a soft spot for music, and especially music videos that tell a story. It was a contest between Daughtry’s “September” and Alan Jackson’s “ Remember when” but, hundreds of other songs could have sufficed.

Our lives are becoming more and more dependent on electronic gadgets and smartphones now almost define our identity. These devices also double as a repository for a lot of our daily experiences be it photos, videos, voicemails, text messages etc. Since the Christmas season is now upon us, these gadgets will be used to extensively record and document the family gatherings, reunions, laughter, cries and everything in between.

Paul Thurrott has an interesting article titled “The death of email” In it, he posits the theory that email is being supplanted by more instant forms of communication like SMS, IM and Facebook messages (Mr. Thurrott is not someone  who casually proclaims the ‘death technology “a” or technology “b” ’  so I was curious to read what he had to say) I can attest to that fact because most of my email correspondence is now relegated to work related stuff. IM, SMS and Facebook messages/chat with an occasional phone call here and there make up the majority of communication with friends and family. I have friends who in fact are far easier to reach with the “instant” means because they will hardly ever reply to an email but they will text me back immediately. The salient portion of Mr. Thurrott’s article that I would like to highlight is when he writes

These people (meaning this generation) don’t care about us or our traditions. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not malevolent about it. They just literally don’t care. And while they may find our muttering about "retention needs" and "conversation threads" interesting in a polite, don’t-agree-too-much-or-they’ll-keep-talking-about-it kind of way, they literally don’t care. Not about our concerns. And not about our previous and old-fashioned email technologies.

One of the strengths of emails and old fashioned letters is that you can easily search and find all those little precious notes that form part of your life experiences. This feat is a little bit harder with the instant methods because the content is usually siloed on different apps, and or trapped on obsolete gadgets when users upgrade. As we get older, I think the need to be able to go back to those memories and preserve them for ourselves and our future generations become more and more important.

When Microsoft introduced the Kin phones, they accompanied the devices with the most innovative companion called the Kin Studio. I hope that this service together with its slick UI will be part of a future WP7 update. The Kin team talked about how during their research, they discovered the difficulty users had in moving their data from their phones to the computers when it came time to upgrade , they even met some users who had kept all their old phones in a shoe box in order to preserve their text messages and pictures. The beauty of the Studio is that it aggregated all the content for the users and provided an innovative timeline feature that easily transported them back and forth to the relevant information they were looking for. As a side note, I wish Facebook had a timeline and favorite feature so that I could easily scrub through the endless news feed and have the ability sort the feed by what I favored.

Moving forward, I think a Studio like companion/service will be a “must have feature” for all smartphones as they continue to be deeply ingrained into our daily way of existence. While we, or some of us may not care about the archiving the texts, voice mails, pictures, videos etc. during the heat of the moment, the powerful human desire to reminisce still remains.