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lifelogging

noun [uncountable]

the activity of producing a continual record of your everyday life by carrying a portable camera and/or other digital device around with you

lifelog

verb [intransitive/transitive]

lifelogger

noun [countable]

lifelog

noun [countable]

a record of a person's everyday life produced by a portable camera and/or other digital device which the person regularly carries around with them

'Last week news broke that a commercial version of a camera worn around the neck to capture photos of your every moment is to be launched … It has been said before that an era of lifelogging, in which people will record and broadcast their daily lives, is on the way.'

New Scientist 20th October 2009

'How I remember: The lifelogger … Gordon Bell records much of his life on a specially developed camera, which can be used to remember where you left your keys …'

Guardian 14th January 2012

'Keeping a lifelog is a commitment, and unless you find a method that really suits you, you're bound to forget all about it very quickly. So why keep a lifelog? … For one, it's a great way to look back and see how you've spent your time, and preserve the moments that matter most to you.'

The Next Web 21st July 2011

Here's me hanging some washing on the line, cut to shot of a hand chopping some veg, ah, now I'm flicking through the pages of a book, zoom into fingers moving across a keyboard … These are the kind of images I suspect might form part of a video stream of my daily life, not exactly gripping stuff that I'd want to keep for posterity or fondly look back on! And yet these are exactly the kind of things that are potentially recorded when someone participates in an activity now described as lifelogging, the pastime of recording your everyday movements so that you and the rest of the world can later see how you filled each of your days.

Lifelogging is the activity of carrying a wearable camera (or other portable recording device) as you go about your daily life, capturing every experience as you go. The resulting images are then uploaded to a computer for later retrieval, thereby gradually building up a digital record of your daily existence. Participants who take this activity particularly seriously, dubbed lifeloggers, typically wear a camera on a cord around their neck, which unobtrusively takes photographs whenever the camera's internal sensor is triggered by a change in temperature, movement, or lighting. The sensor can be disabled whenever the wearer prefers, which is handy if you don't want to end up with lots of pictures of toilets!

you don't need special equipment to have a go at lifelogging, since the term is often used more broadly to refer to other kinds of self-monitoring activities

However it transpires that you don't need special equipment to have a go at lifelogging, since the term is often used more broadly to refer to other kinds of self-monitoring activities, such as using cameras on mobile phones, storing emails and online messaging histories, keeping a record of music you listened to, tracking computer use, or using a digital pedometer to keep tabs on how much exercise you do.

But what then, is the point of lifelogging? Enthusiasts argue it's simply a more sophisticated, 21st century alternative to printed photos, written diaries and scrapbooks, an easily constructed personal archive giving a permanent digital record for ourselves or others. Another benefit of lifelogging is that it gives us an opportunity to take stock of how we run our daily lives, to look at what we get up to and possibly think about how we might manage our time more effectively. It might also help us to remember where we left the car keys!

Background – lifelogging, lifelogger, lifelog

The concept of lifelogging goes right back to the 1970s, when Steve Mann, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Toronto in Canada, started capturing video using a camera mounted on a helmet. By the mid 1990s he was broadcasting his every move, and even his heartbeat, online. However the word lifelogging itself was not coined until the late 1990s by Gordon Bell, an American computer engineer and the subject of Microsoft's research project MyLifeBits, a 10-year experiment in which Bell recorded his daily life by wearing a special neck camera referred to as a SenseCam.

The word lifelogging has various derivatives, including nouns lifelogger and lifelog, the latter referring to the digital record produced by the activity. Lifelog also exists as a verb, used both intransitively and transitively and commonly occurring in the passive or forming participial adjective lifelogged (e.g. lifelogged data/information).

Though use of the word lifelogging has been broadened to cover various ways of using digital media to record daily activity, it should not be confused with the expression lifeblogging, which usually refers more specifically to the writing of online diaries. Other related terms include lifestreaming, which refers to the activity of collecting blog posts, social networking updates, photos, video, etc to create an online record of your daily life, and lifecaching, which is the act of storing a collection of information about your life and making it available to a public forum.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 30th April 2012.

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