Microsoft is working of Lifebrowser, an application that access all information on your computer and your connection to the web, analyzing photos, e-mails, search history and more to identify what can be landmark events. Basically, and this is what Eric Horvitz a distinguished scientist at Microsoft and creator of Lifebrouser say, the application is a personal data miner focussing on you and visualizing the timeline of your life, easing your navigation through your life content.
This is a step forward in the path of My-Life-Bits, the other MS project that set the foundation to store all of your life bits into a computer.
Facebook provides you with the possibility of creating a timeline, but the burden is onto you. With Lifebrowser this happens automatically, and it visualize only those events it feels really matters. This is done using some artificial intelligence but you can control the depth of relevance to make some events pass the thresholds of visibility.
Searching can identify events and cluster them around a landmark. Obviously you can manipulate the landmarks automatically generated by adding some new and deleting others but the application is pretty good in coming up with something reasonable.It is also pretty good in analyzing photos, detecting how many people are there, correlating faces from one photo to another and hence creating relationships. Photos with the associated EXIF (the information about the photo at the time it was taken provided by the camera) are rich information sources allowing to timeline our relationship with other people.
It all depends on the volume and range of data it can mine, of course. Up to few years ago we used to delete (or just lose) data but with storage getting cheaper and cheaper and an easy transfer of data from the old computer to the new one it is more likely that data will keep growing over time. In perspectives, we will be synchronizing data in the cloud and (as Google said several years ago) we will never need to delete data anymore. That will really create a digital shadow of our life and applications like Lifebrowser will come handy. If you like to try one of these applications, try MUSE. It will look into your email and highlight the ups and down in your life, pop up some forgotten acquaintances, and identify patterns in your communications.
It is really amazing what can be done once you have a huge collection of data, and we have just begun.