Microsoft Research: MyLifeBits, Multiple Monitors and You

My friend Tim Erlin, pointed me to this Fast Company article titled “A Head for Detail” about an experimental software project called MyLifeBits and how Microsoft Researcher Gordon Bell is using it to create a lifetime store of everything. Everything he sees and says, his phone calls, his e-mails, every document he writes or reads – everything one could conceive of is captured and stored in a searchable database designed for quick recall of every possible aspect of his life. Here is an out take:

“As we chatted about ious topics–Australian jazz musicians, his futuristic cell phone, the Seattle area’s gorgeous weather–Bell’s gear quietly logged my every gesture and all my blathering small talk, snapping a picture every 60 seconds. Back at his office, his computer had carefully archived every document related to me: all the email I’d sent him, copies of my articles he’d read, pages he’d surfed on my blog… He plunked down in front of his computer, pulled up a browser, typed in “Clive Fast Company,” and there they were: Hundreds of pictures of the meeting scrolled by on his screen, and the sound of our day-old conversation filled the room. It was a deeply strange feeling.”

Besides being a brilliantly written article, an engaging and fascinating read, it really highlights some of the groundbreaking findings that are coming out of Microsoft Research and it implications on productivity in the workplace.

For instance, the research on how multiple monitors increase productivity has provided backing to my personal crusade I have been leading at work to make sure that any IT staff member who wants an extra monitor receives one. I also hasten to remind the management types that the research actually shows that three monitors is the sweet spot (I am still working on winning that one). The point here is that searching around the Microsoft Research site can dig up some fascinating stuff that is just over the horizon including some stuff that you can use to your benefit today.

As a final note, there is a fun little side link to the article that tells you how you can start to create your very own MyLifeBits using off the shelf technology and software that is out today (including Mac Org-Fu cult favorite DEVONThink).

Remainders 11.10.2006

I have not used Microsoft OneNote much as I am not a very regular Windows user. That being said, here is an excellent tutorial on using it’s Note Flags feature to get your Org-fu on.

I am a big fan of Blinksale for invoicing clients for my business. Now they have added integration with Basecamp for sharing client info between the two apps. Pretty nifty!

Stikkit is a new web application that is basically like sticky notes – except these sticky notes get parsed for data. Enter a address for instance and it will automagicaly get parsed out and added to a contact section, links get added to bookmarks, etc. Looks interesting but it certainly wont replace my fave.

More Site News

A few more minor changes around here, some you can see, some you cant. I will run them down real quick:

  • The site is now running on Movable Type 3.3.
  • A new “popular” category has been added to highlight the articles that are getting linked to,’ed and read the most. Want to get a feel for what the site is all about? This is a good place to start.

  • I have added my most recent Flickr uploads to the “status” page.

  • I now use John Gruber’s most excellent Markdown formatting syntax for all of my posts.

  • Remainders now have both a header and comments in deference to Princess Bethany

Once again, thanks to Michael my web-fu sensi for all of his hard work.

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