This story made me realise the value of reigniting personal memories. Burying some mementos in a box in the garden is just about nostalgia, but being reminded of events in your personal history can actually, it seems, help ward off degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Today’s invention is therefore a process by which this can be automated.
Once a month, a reminder would be emailed to individuals who sign up to the service. Ideally they would begin receiving these when still at school. There would be a short series of questions which would be different on every occasion and chosen randomly from a large pre-prepared collection (“Who is your best friend?”, “What’s the most interesting thing you learned this month?” etc) The objective is not to create a unified personal history, but to provide cues which, years later, can jog the memory system enough to keep it from collapsing.
There would also be opportunities to upload images, snatches of favourite music and an option to record an individual’s recent browsing history -all of which material would be held permanently on a secure server.
Forty years later, the monthly emails would change and, instead of asking questions, they’d provide glimpses of what was happening when the person was say 15 or 22.