Textual Healing & Meaning Mining
What could you do with an archive of every text and photo message you'd sent or received between April 2008 and December 2010?
This is the question I've been asking myself since O2 closed its Bluebook service, allowing users to export their data for posterity. The data is a prosaic 2.6MB package of XML documents, but buried amongst this archive are the stories of people, places, friendships, events and travels that represent almost three years of my life.
What could this data serendipitously surface about my life that isn't already apparent? What insights are buried in this XML…
Could cross referencing this with my Dopplr, Google, Flickr, Twitter, Gmail, Foursquare, Delicious, Last.fm, my blog, my bank and utilities records, give form to something unseen – or simply make the mundane tangible? Is this a Feltron-style art project, or the basis of an interesting product?
I'm starting to feel that this kind of "meaning mining" is something that's moving from the canvasses of data artists like NYTE, Jer Thorp, Nicholas Felton and Stamen, to something that everyday users will demand.
I joined the advisory board of Treasuremytext for this reason, it's why memory and recall are personally very important to me and why I believe the Quantified Self culture will yield an emerging field of 'revelatory life services'.
Incidentally, my friend Paul started sketching ideas based on a late-night discussion of meaning-mining 🙂