People forget stuff all the time. Sometimes we just can’t retrieve what we are after. More often though, our minds fill in the holes in our memories with educated guesses – providing the illusion that we remember when we don’t. Many studies have demonstrated just how inaccurate and prone to suggestion our memories are. For instance, Neisser and Harsch had college students record how they heard that the space shuttle Challenger had disintegrated at launch. The students recorded seven details like where they were and who they were with. Two and half years later they were asked again. 25% were incorrect about every single detail. They were, however, very confident in their responses. When it comes to remembering the details of your life, much of what you think you know is wrong.
unforgettable.me is a memory retrieval system – a kind of memory prosthetic. You can use it to recall specific memories of interest. For instance, in 2016 I visited Boston for the Psychonomics conference. If I type Boston into the unforgettable.me search box (after I log in) I get 162 results. Some of these are emails and some are National Public Radio news headlines. I can focus on those that were generated by the unforgettable.me app by also inserting the “__App__” keyword. This restricts the search to 91 results that range from November 16th to November 21st – so now I know exactly when I visited. The result for Saturday November 19th at 2pm looks like this:
You can see the date and time of the event, a number of searchable keywords like afternoon and clear, the number of data records recorded for each of the sensors and the address. This result also contains the moon illumination and age and temperature. To the upper right you can see a streetview image of the area I was staying in. All the information you might want to remind you of the visit. I really enjoyed my visit but lets suppose it had been a painful or embarrassing trip. Then I can hit the little cross at the top to trash it!
You’ll also notice the location icon in the top right hand corner. Clicking on this provides a map of the location like this:
So I will be able to find it again if I want to go back.
That gives you a small taste of what the system can do. Check out the other blog posts for more examples.