Life Logging


What is Lifelogging?

  • “A lifelog is a detailed chronicle of a person's life involving large amounts of data. In recent years the data is usually captured automatically by wearable technology or mobile devices. People who keep lifelogs about themselves are known as lifeloggers (or sometimes lifebloggers).”

History of Lifelogging:

  • Lifelogging began as a concept since the 1990s; very much a research based tool by
  • Two dominant forms: both of which are rooted in record keeping and data collection.
    • Form One: information tracking; includes the collection of every moment to formulate conclusions uses applications use as GPS, body cams, constant filming of activities.
    • Form Two: memory keeping; typically used in the realm of social engagements. This type is aligned in the contemporary use of lifelogging by society.

Reality VS. Perception:

  • Lifelogging started as a means to record and gather information for future examination, distribution, qualitative support for modifying and creating certain developments
  • Encompasses numerous of things outside of the perceived social media aspect; such as health and fitness apps, emailing and video conferences. This extends the definition to something more of surveillance connotation.
  • Lifelogging, in its original definition has not gotten the traction it would but developed into something of leisure and memorabilia.

Positive Characteristics:

  • Memory augmentation
  • Enhanced access to info that can bring people together
  • Health monitoring
  • Improved collective memory
  • Better “object memory”

Negative Characteristics:

  • Legal issues with privacy can arise if a body-worn camera is not used appropriately
  • Sometimes the camera does not synchronize with the system
  • Equipment can be expensive
  • Can be difficult to interpret too much information

Case Study: Strava:

  • In January of 2018, the U.S military realized a fitness social media lifelogging app called Strava was putting our national security at risk.
  • Strava gives each of it’s users a photo based profile and allows their users to use the gps system on the user’s smartwatches to create a heatmap of their location.
  • Similar to instagram the app has a “private” feature which allows the user to determine who can see the data the user provides however, not all members of our military used that feature.
  • “Twitter users identified a potential CIA base in somalia, a patriot missile defense system in Yemen, and US special operations bases in the Sahel region of Africa”
  • There is a growing question of how much the military can truly regulate.

Case Study: Treating Dementia:

  • Lifelogging can be used to help construct the identity of people with dementia
  • Functions by simulating the person’s cognition through photographic cues as ways to reinforce identity.
  • SenseCam was the primary tech tool, used in adherence to certain rules and evaluating processes, with other therapeutic methods in place.

Case Study: Sedentary Behavior in Adults:

  • Lifelogging, using body worn sensors (activity monitors and time lapse photography) has the potential to shed light on the context of sedentary behaviour. The objectives of this study were to examine the acceptability, to older adults, of using lifelogging technology and indicate its usefulness for understanding behaviour.
  • 6 older adults (4 males, mean age: 68yrs) wore the equipment (ActivPAL™ and Vicon Revue™/SenseCam™) for 7 consecutive days during free-living activity. The older adults' perception of the lifelogging technology was assessed through semi-structured interviews, including a brief questionnaire (Likert scale), and reference to the researcher's diary.
  • Older adults in this study found the equipment acceptable to wear and it did not interfere with privacy, safety or create reactivity, but they reported problems with the actual technical functioning of the camera.
  • This combination of sensors has good potential to provide lifelogging information on the context of sedentary behaviour.”

What does Lifelogging look like now?

  • Phones, not dedicated lanyard cameras, are where we typically take photos and record video
  • Any interest we may have towards lifelogging is usually directed to our social media usage on sites such as Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
  • This is where we think to record and share our lives. This is where we’re tagging, forming groups, and being reminded of our memories.
  • In a sense, Facebook and other social media platforms are our lifelogs, just low-fi, externally owned and controlled, and badly organized versions.
  • Nearly 69 percent of Americans are already tracking at least one health metric, whether it’s in the form of calories burned, quality of sleep or heart rate.

Case Study: Gordon Bell:

  • Computer scientist
  • Founder of MyLifeBits (1998-2007)
  • Aim: To collect a lifetime of information of and about Bell
  • Designed by researchers at Microsoft
  • Attempt at an automated store of the documents, pictures (including those taken automatically), and sounds an individual has experienced in his lifetime, to be accessed with speed and ease
  • Bell digitized all documents he has read or produced, CDs, emails, etc.
  • He gathered web pages browsed, phone and instant messaging conversations and the like more or less automatically

Bell's Findings:

  • Bell found that it was nearly Impossible to manage all of the data necessary for lifelogging currently
  • This is a result of:
    • Information overload aka “data fatigue”
    • Unprocessed data creates very large file sizes
    • Difficult to store and transfer information between devices
  • In 2007 or so, at the conclusion of the project they were working on the assumption that 1 terabyte, or a thousand gigabytes of data, was enough for a human lifetime
  • Bell himself, one of the most prominent lifeloggers in history, actually quit capturing his daily life as he’s gotten older

Future of Lifelogging:

  • Cheaper alternatives to record information about one’s self
  • May be used to treat illnesses like Dementia and Alzheimer's
  • Helps people become more self aware through noticing odd changes in their daily lives
  • Improvements in technology are only making lifelogging easier and more accessible for the average person if interested

Other Studies Relevant to Life Logging:


  1. “What the Failure of Lifelogging Tells Us about Technology and the Future.” Bryan Alexander, 12 Sept. 2016,
  2. Weinberger, Matt. “This Microsoft Legend Has a Mind-Blowing Theory for How Tech Is Changing Our Memories.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 28 Apr. 2016,
  3. Juliet A Harvey, Dawn A Skelton, and Sebastien F M Chastin. “Acceptability of Novel Lifelogging Technology to Determine Context of Sedentary Behaviour in Older Adults.” AIMS Public Health 3, no. 1 (March 1, 2016): 158–171.
  4. Rawassizadeh, R., Wac, K., and Tomitsch, M. “Theme Issue on Electronic Memories and Life Logging.” Personal and Ubiquitous Computing (2012): 1–2.
  5. Juliet A Harvey, Dawn A Skelton, and Sebastien F M Chastin. “Acceptability of Novel Lifelogging Technology to Determine Context of Sedentary Behaviour in Older Adults.” AIMS Public Health 3, no. 1 (March 1, 2016): 158–171.
  6. Piasek, Ms. Paulina. “Using Lifelogging to Help Construct the Identity of People with Dementia.” (2014).
  7. “What Is Lifelogging?” Trisent, 19 Nov. 2016,
  8. Berlinger, Joshua, and Maegan Vazquez. “US Military Reviewing Security Practices after Fitness App Reveals Sensitive Info.” CNN, Cable News Network, 29 Jan. 2018,
  9. Reporters, Telegraph. “Top 10 Strava Tips and Tricks.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 1 June 2017,
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