NASA’s launch last Thursday was the end of an era – the final mission for space shuttle Discovery. Yet a timely video captured on a mobile phone shows that it was also the beginning of a new era – the dawn of lifelogging. Software developer Neil Monday was on a commercial jet flight out of Florida when he flew close enough to Discovery’s path to see it rocket into orbit. Acting quickly, Monday pulled out his iPhone4 and shot a brief video of the arcing rise of the space shuttle as seen from his airplane window. It’s amazing and beautiful footage from an angle you’ve probably never seen before, and we have it for you below. Check it out. Neil Monday’s opportunistic recording of Discovery’s final launch is an example of what we can expect in a future where everyone carries a video camera with them at all times. Every special moment can be saved, shared, and relished – that’s the promise of lifelogging.
Most of us probably don’t think of our mobile phone cameras as lifelogging tools, but that’s exactly what they are. Honestly, why do you need a camera on your phone? It’s not as high quality, nor as versatile as a dedicated device. You use camera phones for the little things, the unexpected events, the rare moments you want to capture. That’s the sort of mentality that opens the possibility for the next step: forgoing the hassle of whipping out your camera phone every time something interesting happens and just wearing a camera that runs 24/7.
We’ve seen many different devices that let you automatically capture video and images of your surroundings, many worn inside glasses or goggles. There’s also already the social network infrastructure (YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, etc) to share these recordings quickly with family and friends. The only thing we’re really waiting for is the spark that sets these fuels aflame. We need an event, or fad, or concept that gets the idea of lifelogging into the mainstream.
Previously I’ve speculated that it could be extreme sports, with its penchant for showmanship and bragging, that jumpstarts lifelogging. Alternatively, lifelogging could arise naturally out of the newest generation’s exposure to social networking since birth (often since their mother’s pregnancy). Neil Monday’s video is yet another possibility: the ‘once in lifetime video opportunity’. We all have those ‘once in a lifetime’ events that we wish we had captured on camera. Monday’s video reminds us that now we don’t have to miss the next one that occurs. Videos like this one are just so cool, so fun to share with friends, that they could inspire others to start recording more with their own camera phones. 1.5+ million people has already viewed this video of Discovery’s final launch. Maybe, when coupled with all the other remarkable ‘once in a lifetime’ videos that crop up on YouTube from time to time, more people will start taking the leap to lifelogging.
Even if we don’t adopt wearable cameras that run continuously we are still headed towards a day when everything is recorded. There are enough video phones in people’s pockets such that collectively we will have an eye on the ground (or in the sky) for every event. Discovery’s flight into orbit as seen from a plane – somebody had a camera for that. If a woman gives birth on a subway I’m sure we’ll have a camera there too. An elephant gets drunk and throws a car at a clown? You know someone will record that. All the weird and wonderful things in the world can’t hide anymore. We’ve become a civilization armed with camera phones and, individually or collectively, we’re not going to miss anything anymore. Get ready for the recorded future…it’s already here.