Dear Me, Thanks for the Memories2018-05-17
I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind… At these times,” said Dumbledore indicating the stone basin, “I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.
— Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
You already know about the career-based reasons I chose to work at Air. This time around, I’m digging into why Air’s mission resonates with my personal interests. When you’re done reading, you’ll see why I’m working at Air so everybody can have their own personal Pensieve.
I began to journal daily in elementary school. At this point, I’ve kept it up for over a decade.
I started with paper notebooks but transitioned to digital methods in junior high. As the years went on, I realized that the ability to search through past memories was powerful.
I can relive pivotal life moments, revealing what I found important at the time (and it’s often amusing to rediscover what I found important). Journaling puts my current concerns in perspective and reminds me how much (and how little) I’ve changed. Like Dumbledore, it’s easier for me to spot patterns by jotting down my “excess thoughts.” From there, I can decide what habits and core values I want to preserve and which should stay in the past.
I referred to my journals extensively when I was applying for college, and you better believe I was flipping through entries to write this.
I started making videos around the same time I picked up journaling. As I mentioned last time, filming was a big part of my life growing up.
As kids, my sister and I used our dad’s Motorola Razr to record sketches we enacted with our Happy Meal toys. We would proudly run to our parents, who would crowd around the 2.2-inch LCD screen to view our latest masterpiece.
During summer vacations, I hijacked the family camcorder to make backyard documentaries. In high school, I upgraded to a DSLR and continued to film throughout college. Over the years, the technology evolved, but the joy of collaborating with friends stayed the same. Nowadays, I enjoy watching my blooper reels even more than the actual films I created. They remind me that behind-the-scenes, we were always a bunch of kids having fun.
I took loads of pictures with my DSLR during my freshman year of college. At the end of every quarter, I would go through them all in Lightroom. After editing the selected ones, I would upload them to Facebook and tag everyone involved in our frosh shenanigans.
After freshmen year, the sheen of the Perfect College Experience™ was starting to wear off. Most of the time, the hassle of lugging a DSLR around, organizing/editing files, and tagging on Facebook didn’t seem worth it. In addition, Instagram and Snapchat were on the rise, so Facebook albums felt clunky and outdated.
Fast-forward to the summer before my senior year at Stanford. I was back home and came across my high school yearbooks. As I flipped through the pages covered in signatures, I was flung back in time. Inside jokes and enthusiastic well wishes from old friends overwhelmed me.
I realized that the photos I took freshmen year would eventually have similar value to these yearbook pages. However, I didn’t have as much to show for the years since then. Here’s what I wrote in my journal the next day:
Thinking about doing a podcast once the school year starts as a sort of yearbook/time capsule…
And I followed through.
Every weekend, I sat down with a friend and recorded our one-on-one conversation. Afterward, I would edit and publish it as a podcast episode on iTunes. It was not only a chance to reminisce
on shared experiences but also an opportunity to learn more about each person. Even if no one else listened, I got to spend hours talking with someone I cared about without interruption. Thankfully, others did listen, and I was grateful for the privilege of sharing my friends’ stories.
I started my undergrad taking photos and ended it recording audio, but I’m glad I took the time to capture and share memories, no matter the medium.
In 1945, Vannevar Bush published an influential essay that anticipated our current data-driven society. Consider this excerpt:
Consider a future device… in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.
After reading his work in college, Bush’s idea of technology as an extension of memory has always stuck with me. All the projects I’ve worked on serve as active forms of reflection. The medium and message of each serve as a time capsule for that period of my life.
But why do I care so much about memory in the first place?
Mark Manson writes that civilization was built on “immortality projects,” endeavors accomplished in the hope that our conceptual selves would last beyond our physical bodies.
It’s why some people donate money for named buildings and others tag highway overpasses with graffiti. It’s why athletes and hip-hop artists strive to become the Greatest of All Time. It’s why stories exist, passed on from parent to child.
Despite all the rapid innovation that surrounds us, at the heart of it all, we just want to be remembered.
I love the contemplative nature of writing in my journal every day. I love the intimacy of a podcast and the visual impact of a photo. Most of all, I love how video harnesses all of these aspects to capture impromptu moments in life.
At Air, we’re building the ultimate tool for capturing and sharing memories: a camera that never runs out of space with intuitive navigation for all of your videos.
As I work, I imagine how I would use Air if I had it as a kid. I wouldn’t have to worry about organizing miniDV tapes or swapping SD cards between takes. I wouldn’t have to deal with redundant external hard drives with nested folders and limited lifespans. On Air, everything I filmed would be securely stored and simple to find.
I’d still be able to watch those sketches my sister and I made and one day share them with my own children. In the real world, they’re currently lost forever, trapped in a discarded relic.
I could message my friends a private link to a high-quality video instead of sending a compressed version to fit Gmail’s file attachment limit.
When I come into work, I’m building a product that I would use as a sixth-grader to create and share. At the same time, I’m building a product that I’ll use as an adult to reminisce and reflect.
I’m building a product that I hope you’ll want to use too.
Also posted on Medium!