Courtesy of Anita Schmidt
A screenshot of Alex Schmidt's Memolane album. The reporter, left, and her sister Anita, created an album of images and social media postings from a trip to Paris three years ago.
A screenshot of Alex Schmidt's Memolane album. The reporter, left, and her sister Anita, created an album of images and social media postings from a trip to Paris three years ago. Courtesy of Anita Schmidt
My sister Anita has been on Facebook since the beginning — more than seven years — and she's been posting pictures all along.
But she hasn't exactly considered that she's been creating a history of her life.
Social media is all about what's going on right now. Twitter asks, "What's happening?" when it prompts you to update. But a new service called Memolane promises to feed your nostalgia by tapping your social media history.
Memolane enables you to create a graphic online album of all your postings on a timeline. It can include content from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Last.fm, Vimeo, Foursquare and other social media outlets.
A Social Media Album Of Paris
Anita and I used Memolane to look back at a trip to Paris we took three years ago. It showed us statuses, pictures and tweets — all of it.
Right after the trip, we created photo albums. Neither of us had realized that our social media usage from that time could be an album itself.
"Our experience on the Internet is just at the very, very beginning," says Marshall Kirkpatrick, co-editor of the tech blog ReadWriteWeb. "We are producing so much more data now than ever before. It's not going away. But that's always been thought of as a problem and not an opportunity."
A Different Outlook On The Past
It's not a problem for Memolane. With this service, you can instantly access a detailed historic record of your life. But that could also change how you feel about the past.
"So, if these sites make our past more present to us then it may end up failing to create that sense of distance," says Jeff Olick, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia who studies memory. He says we need to have distance from the past in order to feel nostalgic.
Imagine if you moved out of an old apartment and then looked at a picture of it every single day. You probably wouldn't miss it too much.
When we tried out Memolane, my sister and I hadn't relived our Paris experience for a while. So, the memories held their magic. Nice as it was, though, Anita doesn't plan to constantly review the past on Memolane.
"It allows you to stroll down memory lane," she says. "That's not something everybody needs to do every single day."
Maybe not — but a sappy procrastinator like me could end up strolling more often than I should.
- Learn how to create a Memolane timeline here.