There’s a new company that caught my eye today, called Rewind. It claims to watch and listen everything you do on your computer (frightening yes, but also potentially powerful), while using transcripts and OCR to capture all the text that flashes before your eyes so you can find something you read or said or heard later on.
This isn’t a new idea, I remember over 20 years ago in the heydays of blogging when I’d churn through hundreds of websites a day on my desktop and forget where I saw something. Did I bookmark it? Add it to del.icio.us? Did I blog it? Or did someone on my blogroll write about it and I need to find it again? Anil even covered this way back in 2003.
These days, I might have seen a tweet with an interesting idea that I didn’t mark as a favorite and a week later it’s almost impossible to find. Or someone gave me directions to their house days ago and now I need them but I can’t remember if it was an email, a text message, a DM (on which service?!) or a Slack message. Most days I churn through thousands of documents and web pages and tweets and instagram captions and text messages and hours of video too. And none of that is very searchable. So I use a variety of breadcrumbs to find my way back, including my YouTube history, things marked as favorites, stuff saved in Apple Notes, etc.
It’s hard to say how this company is going to do it (desktop only? no way to do this on mobile, right?) because it’s in beta and not much is shown and yes, there are ethical implications of recording everything you see or say on your own computer (and trusting the company will never use your information), but it’s a fascinating thought exercise.
Today’s computers are pretty powerful. Compression algorithms are getting really good too. You can use AI to generate transcripts/captions for almost anything, and so the task of writing a search engine to make all that content and context available isn’t as big of a stretch as it once was.
I’m going to watch this project because it’s pretty close to the ideals of what me and friends have been talking about late nights over beers about what’s the last piece of the personal information puzzle no one has addressed yet.