“No digital natives but the devices themselves”
There are no digital natives but the devices themselves; no digital immigrants but the devices too, James Bridle writes. He extracted a history of 35,801 latitude/longitude codes from his iPhone after discovering in April 2011 that iPhones store location data without the users’ knowledge. He then plotted the geocodes onto a map for each day and published it as a book, Where the f**k was I.
Bridle writes that his phone’s memory is better than his own. He cannot actually remember each of these places he has been.
This digital memory sits somewhere between experience and non-experience; it is also an approximation; it is also a lie. These location records do not show where I was, but an approximation based on the device’s own idea of place, its own way of seeing. They cross-reference me with digital infrastructure, with cell towers and wireless networks, with points created by others in its database. Where I correlate location with physical landmarks, friends and personal experiences, the algorithms latch onto invisible, virtual spaces, and the extant memories of strangers.
(Other aspects of the device’s place-making I enjoy: I love its hunger for new places, the inquisitive sensor blooming in new areas of the city, the way it stripes the streets of Sydney and Udaipur; new to me, new to the machine. It is opening its eyes and looking around, walking the streets beside me with the same surprise.)
I have been using Evertale for a couple of weeks now, and it displays my locations to me by reading where my phone has been. So far I haven’t been anywhere much but home and work, the kids’ preschool and a café or two, but I am excitedly looking forwards to traveling so I can see more interesting memories. I assume services like Evertale will soon offer personalized books like this one, an automatically generated scrapbook of my life.
Or at least of my phone’s life.