Today Rudy Adler, co-founder of 1000Memories visited us at Institute for the Future to share about his project, which links to the future of death, the future of connecting, the future of memories, and the future of storytelling.

Here is an example of a memories tribute page, designed to remind us of a patchwork quilt.  It’s complete with stories, photos, videos, songs, and scanned artifacts of the beloved one who has passed away at various ages and even features handwitten notes:

Rudy is a smart, genuine guy (which is important for a site that promises to preserve your memories forever.)

He opened his talk with a personal story about losing someone in his life and his company’s call to action evidences big picture thinking: “We need a new oral history.”

The site that results is a well-designed and interesting signal (early indicator of a future direction of change) around the future of connecting.

Here is a summary of the idea in 1 minute & 12 seconds:

1000Memories has gotten a lot of press, but my favorite description comes from a TechCrunch article that resonates with my own personal experence of the site:

Visitors are first presented with a big picture of the deceased, presumably that one image that best captured his soul and personality. From there it’s easy to navigate to your next step as a reader, and sign a guest book. You can also invite others to the page at that time.

But what makes each site really rich are the stories and pictures that loved ones add to the site. Some are silly. Others rip tears from your eyes. But it helps fill out the picture of a man, and it helps family and friends remember that man more richly.

We are indeed becoming People of the Screen, as our Technology Horizons Future of Video research suggests.

This experience of digital life after death is one of the more meaningful ways I’ve seen this come to life so far.  Intrigued to see where 1000Memories will go.  Who do you want to remember?

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Note:  Also posted on the IFTF blog, FutureNow

A couple of days ago, a new interview with James Fowler came out on NPR:  “Genes Play Role in Selecting Friends, Study Finds.”

As I recently posted, Fowler is a co-author of Connected:  The Suprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.


Have a listen here, it’s less than 5 minutes long.  You just might find out why we are friends, or the real reason why I married you. 😉  An excerpt:

I think what we’re going to find is that there are different systems at play. And so with the dopamine gene that we found – that we share in common with our friends – there’s a very intuitive explanation there, because it’s related to this behavior that’s very social behavior.  But for the opposites-attract genes, we might find things like genes that are related to the immune system.

It’s been known for some time that people tend to choose spouses who have different immune systems, because you don’t want to be exposed to a disease that you’re susceptible to. You spend a lot of time with your spouse, and so if they get it, then you’re definitely going to get it. You want them to be able to fight off all those diseases that you can’t fight off.

Ever wish for a personal assistant for optimally connecting with others?  Find yourself falling short of your best intentions?

Enter Thoughtful, a start-up that aims to augment your connecting behaviors:

Here is a quick & easy overview of Thoughtful from Mashable:

The premise is simple enough: Men need help buying gifts; Thoughtful connects to Facebook to surface local experiences and gift recommendations that match their mates’ tastes.

Thoughtful curates gifts sourced from local merchants who work with the startup to feature their products and experiences. Gifts start at $25 and include affordable spa options or much pricer fare: clothing, accessories, Valentine’s Day dinners and romantic weekend getaways.

The service will continue to keep track of important birthdays, anniversaries, and special events and will follow up with reminders to ensure the user’s gift-buying plans are prepared accordingly.

This begs the question of course, in augmenting ourselves and our connecting behaviors in this way, are we likely to become thoughtless human beings?

Maybe, but ultimately, I am guessing the Thoughtful team has great intentions to benefit human connectivity in authentic ways.  On their website, they are articulate the essence of the conundrum:

We feel, even on our ornery-est days, that most people are fundamentally good, and in fact, would like to be better. The simple fact is there’s just not enough time in the day for most of us to act on all of the great ideas that cross our minds, or even sometimes to do the really important things that remind the people around us that they matter to us. Our lives are full, work is consuming, and family routines become increasingly hectic and crazy.

As we build out the vision of Thoughtful, we hope to make it easier for people to act on their best impulses, and have some fun along the way.

Ever since Christakis & Fowler released Connected:  the Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, social contagion theories and next generation social network analysis seems to be popping up everywhere.  It seems to be catching (dad joke).


The basic thesis here is that we are connected to each other in ways we have never realized (at least by correlation, if not causation) out to the third degree of separation…that is to say, I am connected to my friends’ friends’ friends.

Even though social contagion has gotten a bit buzzwordish,  it is broadly relevant to the inquiry of Allons! so it’s worth saying a few words here at the start.  Here are Christakis & Fowler’s 5 Rules of Life in a Network:

Rule 1:  We shape our network

Rule 2:  Our networks shape us

Rule 3:  Our friends affect us

Rule 4:  Our friends’ friends’ friends affect us

Rule 5:  The network has a life of its own

This framework will be great for shaping the discussion about spirituality, connecting, and beliefs.  Here is Christakis’ TED talk that introduces the basic topics:

 

 

Today’s New Scientist features a write-up on a new research tool for studying human social interaction, a dual-headed fMRI scanner.

This tool will enable new research on how our brains light up as we socially interact–not only through being exposed to video of a loved one, as current research features, but also through the tactile and visceral experience of tangible presence.

Ray Lee, of Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute is credited with the lead on this work, and here is how it is described in IEEE:

One of the major functions of the human brain is to mediate interactions
with other people. Until recently, studying brain social interactions
has not been possible due to the lack of measurable methods to observe
two interacting minds simultaneously. We have developed a novel
dual-head MRI coil that can scan two subjects’ brains simultaneously
while the subjects are socially interacting in one MRI scanner.
Meanwhile, a novel scheme for decoupling two quadrature coils (not
surface coils) is introduced and validated.

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Note:  Also posted on the IFTF blog, FutureNow