Sentimental? Me? No way. But what's this on my iMac? A screensaver of Jacob's first day at school. A sound clip of baby Martha's first cry. An MPEG of Danny's first sit-up-and-beg. (Uh, he's my dog.)
Most of us are similarly, hopelessly nostalgic. We turn everyday events into "Kodak moments" — and we spend hours filing, cataloguing, and scrapbooking them all.
Finnish phone giant Nokia wants to be a Kodak for the digital age, with the ubiquitous camera phone as its Brownie for the masses. And its scrapbook? That would be Lifeblog, a $30 piece of software set to debut at the end of June. Lifeblog gathers the mishmash of life — all the text messages, images, and video that can be captured on a cell phone — then organizes them into a digital diary.
Lifeblog's creator is Christian Lindholm, Nokia's director of multimedia applications and the guy who designed the "Navikey" button on Nokia phones. Lindholm got the idea for Lifeblog 10 years ago when leafing through a dog-eared notepad kept by Kazu Fujiwara, a colleague at London Business School. Fujiwara called it his "lifebook," a diary with details of the people he'd met, books he'd read, holiday snaps, and so on.
With Lifeblog, the phone becomes a life recorder. And your life becomes searchable. Can't remember who was at your bachelor party? Search for "bachelor" in Lifeblog. Lost an old friend's phone number that someone sent you by text message? Lifeblog will find it. Everything stored on the phone can be uploaded to a PC, where entries can be tagged with brief notes and descriptions. Other digital content — like photos from "proper" digital cameras, or emails from a laptop — can be imported to flesh out the scrapbook.
Lifeblog is simple to use, sync, and navigate. But its functionality is limited: You can't print or edit images, and while you can browse the diary by type of file, there's no way to create an album. The cell phone gives each image a location, but you can't drill down beyond country information.
All of which makes for a truly intriguing technological proposition — but not much more. That could be why, for now, Nokia is making Lifeblog available only with its new $600 7610 model. Lindholm hints that, ultimately, Nokia could become a "memory bank," with "savers" paying to store, retrieve, and share digital assets on Nokia servers. For now, though, I may just download Danny onto my next phone. Call me sentimental.
A version of this article appeared in the July 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.