You're Not That Interesting

Within 15 years, every single thing you say and see, and every place you visit, will be recorded.

It is inevitable. Every drunken escapade will be captured. Every atrocity man commits against fellow man burned into our collective memories. Every news event viewable in real time from hundreds of perspectives.

This will dramatically change your life, and in the process raise three fundamental questions:

1. Do we want the power to record and view every moment of our lives?

2. What are the consequences?

3. And most importantly, is a life well-lived, a life well-published?

Moore's Gone Wild
The reason you will never be able to forget that whipped-cream party in college, or evade your next speeding ticket, can be traced back to a brilliant technologist named Douglas Engelbert. In 1959, he predicted the rate at which computer speeds would increase. His prediction turned out to be fantastically accurate not only for computer processors, but for storage capacity as well.



Today, it takes roughly a gigabyte of storage for an hour of compressed high-definition video. If you had a camera attached to you recording 24/7, you would consume roughly 9,000 gigabytes per year.

A single hard drive today can store 2,000 gigabytes. If storage capacity continues to follow Moore's law (and historically it has significantly exceeded it), in 15 years, we will have petabyte hard drives, or roughly enough storage for 110 years of today's HD video.

This means that for the first time in history, our society's ability to store data will exceed the amount of data we create.

Google Gone Berserk
If every piece of data is stored, the next obvious step is to make it all accessible and searchable.

Accessibility will happen via cloud computing.  Companies like Google, BlueTie, and are already making huge strides in this area by offering your applications and data in the cloud, while companies like SugarSync and Dropbox are shifting your photos and files to the cloud as well. Within ten years, local storage will seem quaint and unthinkable. Everything will live in the cloud.

Making all this data searchable is a little more tricky. Today's SaaS companies don't have nearly enough security or privacy controls to trust with your entire digital life. Further, video and audio search is still relatively nascent, despite the efforts of Google, Microsoft, and others. Within 10 years, though, we will have nearly perfect video and audio search, too.s

Are There Still Publishers?
What is the role of publishers and news organizations in this brave new world?

It would be naive to believe that with seven billion people in the world, today's newscasters represent the most thoughtful perspective on each issue. When nearly every individual can record the action and share his or her viewpoint, the news will profoundly and permanently change.

The news organizations of tomorrow will no longer be loud-mouthed pundits espousing a barely informed worldview. Nor will they still be large monoliths attempting to maintain news bureaus worldwide. There is simply no cost-effective way for them to be on scene in every city, town, or village where the next big news story may break.

Instead, successful media will become aggregators and editors of content, rather than creators. The smart money will build a technology to gather, sort, and filter stories from every corner of the world, and couple it with smart and thoughtful humans to do the editing.

This could lead to the next renaissance in news: instant reporting from the heart of the action, technology-assisted compilation and editing, and leveraging social connections to make it personal and relevant.

Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood
Or, it could become a platform for the vain, the narcissistic, and the self-absorbed to post their every last photo, video, and audio clip.

I really hope not, because you're not that interesting. And neither am I.

10 comments about "You're Not That Interesting".
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  1. Nettie Hartsock from The Hartsock Agency, September 9, 2010 at 11:59 a.m.

    I think what we're witnessing is the greatest time in journalism, online media, and reporting through the use of these tools. The best content will rise and the lesser narcissistic driven content will cede.

    All of this new media and the accessibility of the tools will benefit those who want to use it to change the world for the better.

    The instant reporting is already happening - the news renaissance is already well into its change. One only has to see how the Japanese reporter was able to gain his release this week from the Taliban by tricking them into using Twitter.

    Or the fact that the AP yesterday said it will now start giving bloggers correct attribution in stories.

    The interesting thing is not you or I, it is the idea that this sharing of information is demanding relevancy, transparency and honesty in media. That's a giant benefit that's worth any tradeoff.

  2. Randy Kirk from Randy Kirk & Associates, September 9, 2010 at 12:16 p.m.

    My observation is that as we record more the value of the recordings become less and less. As a kid in the 50's, a picture was valuable. There was a real cost in time and treasure to take and develop pictures, and they had value. They were put into albums and the albums were brought out frequently and the family laughed and relived cherished events.

    This could be said, too, about Super 8 and early video cameras.

    Now I have many 1000's of pictures stored in boxes, and even 10's of 1000's of digital pictures stored here and there, that have never been viewed twice. The videos of kids baseball games and talent shows are so ubiquitous that it would take 100's of hours to merely catalog them.

    I thought that this explosion might result in folks spending more time reviewing their past than living in the present, but all that has happened is that the past is stored somewhere and completely forgotten.

  3. Kelly Wenzel from Centro, September 9, 2010 at 12:47 p.m.

    David, really loved this article. Very thought provoking. I also like Randy's comments about the value of the recorded material declining. One can only HOPE that Nettie proves true and the narcissistic content recedes. The compulsion to let everyone know everything we are doing is out of control.

    For me, I would trace it back to MTV Real World. And then Road Rules. I'm sure there are earlier examples of reality TV, but these are the first ones that made my radar (dating myself!) and had me investing time watching and listening to complete strangers, as if their trials and tribulations matter. It's spawned this perception that everyone has the right? the potential? to a star, to be heard, to broadcast and record every little moment.

  4. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., September 9, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.

    @Randy & Kelly, great points.

    I think unfortunately we are becoming a society that is driven not to live a great life, but rather to a live a life that sounds great when published.

    How long is it before people start doing interesting things with a goal of tweeting about it?


  5. Chris Gale from Datapop, September 9, 2010 at 2:26 p.m.

    Loved the article, the only thing that I am not really sure about was the assertion that we will have storage eclipse our ability to create data since data has been growing exponentially as well... petty issue though, we'll still be able to record damn near anything we want :)

    So glad this wasn't reality when I was in college!

  6. Randy Kirk from Randy Kirk & Associates, September 9, 2010 at 3:13 p.m.

    Living life that sounds great when published. Ha. I love it! The combination of wisdom so far on this subject seems very fresh and needs wider publication.

  7. Joey Jodar from Heavy Inc., September 9, 2010 at 4:06 p.m.

    A really compelling and thought-provoking article. Wow! Mediapost, why don't you commission more articles like this? There's definitely quite a bit more to explore on this topic as it strikes me that there will be a critical mass point at which the idea or notion of individual privacy and existence will no longer be possible as we understand it today. You will either exist because you are on the digital grid and will therefore have no privacy as we have come to understand it in the western European/Anglo-American politcal and historical sense OR you can attempt to guard your privacy and decide not to participate in a fully searchable and trackable universe as envisioned in the article, which could mean you might no longer 'exist'. From philosophy to sci-fi to reality. It definitely gives pause to think.

  8. Shyam Kapur from TipTop Technologies, September 9, 2010 at 8:40 p.m.

    I agree with those who commented before me that this is an excellent article. The future described is in fact not that far away. I happened to anticipate this future several years ago and have been working on the consumer product TipTop which embodies quite a bit of my vision. There is lot more coming out in this product in the next few weeks and months. You can also read some of our blog posts to judge for yourself how well you think we are doing.

  9. Liudvikas Bukys from PAETEC, September 14, 2010 at 10:38 a.m.

    "Instant Replay - Personal Edition" will be popular and handy for such things as remembering the grocery list, or reminding you about people's names when you see them at the cocktail party. You'll pay a lot extra for the "Pro Edition" with an Edit feature so you can prove that your spouse told you to buy brown rice, not white rice.

  10. David Koretz from Adventive, Inc., September 15, 2010 at 12:50 p.m.

    No more than a week after I wrote this, TechCrunch posted this:

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