With so much of our histories being uploaded onto websites, you’ve got to wonder: what’s happening to that data?
Do we ever expect to retrieve it, or have we relinquished control to some server, whirring alone, tucked in the plains of middle America?
We post photos on Facebook and don’t bother backing them up elsewhere. Our tweets chronicle a point in our lives—a knee-jerk blip, the tip of the ordinary—then toss them into the HTML ether, neglected by us, ignored by our friends.
How much have we posted, read, said, learned—and instantly forgotten? Whether or not we take social networking sites seriously, they are, in essence, archives of our online identities. And given that we’re spending so much time online, building these creatures, shouldn’t they become memories?
Enter start-up Memolane.
Snaring otherwise incongruent data across the social Web, Memolane aggregates our bleeps and boops and transforms them into an interactive story. Memolane will reach back as long as you’ve been building an online personality.
Memolane currently supports Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, Twitter, Last.fm, Foursquare, Tripit, Spotify, and RSS feeds for any blog, and they are working on adding many more outlets. It will snap these puzzle pieces together, assemble them in a gorgeous timeline, and make them as sharable as you’d like.
Imagine: you zip to Sturgis, South Dakota, to revel among the bikers. Along the way you’re scrobbling your roadtrip playlist on Last.fm, updating Twitter and Facebook simultaneously, snapping pictures and dumping them on Flickr, and checking into local greasy spoons on Foursquare.
By the end of the trip, your exploits are scattered. The story—and there is a story—stops making sense. But with a tool like Memolane, you could create a comprehensive tourbook, the modern way, the way we’re recording it anyway—but all in one place.
Memolane is still in beta and not broadly accessible, but you can sign up for its email waiting list. TechCrunch did a hands-on profile and found a lot of promise. The site says a basic membership is free, but eventually it may introduce a pay model for enhanced features (I see printing and publishing in their future).
The emphasis here is on the story. To say we’ve spent the last couple of years plugging info into these sites and letting them fester in someone’s backwoods compost pile is to—in a way—undermine our very existences. Sounds dramatic, for sure, but when you look at it, what’s our motivation for posting in the first place? We’re chronicling an event, or even a moment: a fall down the stairs, a binge at a bar, the birth of a baby, the death of a dog. It’s ours. It’s our lives. Isn’t that important?
To put all these random split-second happenings in one cookie jar means we’re not wasting our time (unless you’re one of those FarmVille people); we’re generating the autobiography of the 21st century. (And if you are one of those FarmVille people, you’re just clogging toilets with the unflushable.)