Basser Seminar Series

MyLifeBits a Memex-inspired personal store for everything: A TP Database

Gordon Bell
Microsoft Bay Area Research Center

Tuesday 24 May 2005 1.30-3pm

Eastern Avenue Lecture Theatre, University of Sydney

(NOTE: Different day, time and venue)


Vannevar Bush's 1945 inspirational Atlantic Monthly article "As We May Think," posited Memex: "a device that stores all of an individual's books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility." Memex would have virtually unlimited memory and support annotations and "hyperlinks". Our MyLifeBits system that began in 1998 implements the vision.

With yearly doubling of storage, research aimed at every aspect of personal storage systems is increasing from visualization and categorization to information retrieval. Examples include Haystack, LifeStreams, and the Remembrance Agent. At Microsoft Research, Stuff I've Seen, Sapphire and MyLifeBits have tackled the problem. In October of 2004, the First ACM Workshop on Continuous Archival and Retrieval of Personal Experiences sold out and generated strong enthusiasm, opening up new areas of research.

Since the project began, the number and richness of new data types continues to increase. Challenges include acquisition of more real time streams coming from an ever expanding and networked "personal environments", never ending creation of schema and meta-data, privacy, and long term preservation, to name a few.

Speaker's biography

Gordon Bell is a senior researcher in Microsoft's Bay Area Research Center (BARC), San Francisco, CA. He has an SB and SM degree from MIT (1956-57) and honorary D. Eng. from WPI (1993).

He spent 23 years (1960-1983) at Digital Equipment Corporation as Vice President of Research and Development, where he was the architect of numerous mini- and time-sharing computers, led the development of the VAX, and pioneered multiprocessor designs. During 1959 he was a Fulbright Scholar to the Univeristy of New South Wales, and during 1966-72 he was Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Carnegie-Mellon University. In 1986-1987 he was the first Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation's Computing Directorate. He led the National Research and Education Network (NREN) panel that became the NII/GII, and was an author of the first High Performance Computer and Communications Initiative. Beginning in 1987 he sponsored "The Gordon Bell Prize" for Parallelism, awarded at the annual ACM/IEEE Conference on Supercomputing.

Bell has authored books and papers about computer structures and start-up companies. In April 1991, Addison-Wesley published "High Tech Ventures: The Guide to Entrepreneurial Success", which describes the Bell-Mason Diagnostic, for analyzing start-up ventures. His first book, "Computer Structures", with Allen Newell was published in 1972. Bell is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Fellow), the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ACM (Fellow), IEEE (Fellow and Computer Pioneer), and member of the National Academy of Engineering. His awards include: the IEEE Von Neumann Medal, the AEA Inventor Award for the greatest economic contribution to the New England region, the IEEE 2001 Vladamir Karapetoff Eminent Member's Award of Eta Kappa Nu, and The 1991 National Medal of Technology.