With new apps like Memoto and Memoir in combination with ubiquitous recording and video devices, we have arrived in the age where we can capture, archive and retrieve every moment of our lives.
Creating a searchable database for our lives—if the way we’ve responded to other searchable databases is any indication—could result in having fewer personal details on the tips of our tongues. At the same time, it could allow us to retrieve almost every single detail, to show our children the first date with their father instead of tell them about it. “Every single thing in your life, you could have a perfect memory,” Hoffman says. Well, almost perfect. Cameras capture events, not feelings. Your perceptions of events may be different the second or third time around. Still, there are obviously upsides to a perfect recall of events. Michael Anderson, a memory researcher at the University of Oregon in Eugene, had his students keep “forgetting diaries” as a way to estimate how much time they wasted looking for the car keys and making up for other faults in our memories. On average, he estimated, forgetting things takes up about a month of time each year.