With our aging population, Alzheimer's disease, and other memory-related disorders, are on the rise. Alzheimer's disease robs people of their memories, eventually rendering them helpless to take care of even their most basic needs. Those who care for Alzheimer's patients, and the family members of Alzheimer's patients, often take steps to ensure that the memories of those patients lives on, even after they are unable to remember the most basic of things like their names. In the past, such steps have included recording video or audio of the patient talking about some favorite memories, compiling photo albums and scrapbooks, and memoir writing. Some studies have even found that preserving the memories of Alzheimer's patients benefits the patients as well as their families and caregivers (see References, below).
We now live in a digital age, where much of our lives is recorded, whether in blog posts, Tweets, tagged photos, or YouTube videos. Taken as a whole, these digital documents form a picture of who we are, or who we were at a specific time and place in our lives. Yet the organization of such memories is not so well-defined: we rely on dates, and possibly manually-added tags, to provide context to the data. A picture can be worth a thousand words, as the story goes, but can a picture itself form a complete memory? Would the picture be worth more if it was somehow organizationally "attached" to a blog post, so that we could call up not just what we saw, but what we thought about our experience at the time? With this digital age comes the possibility of not just storing memorabilia, but digitally reconstructing memories as well. This project will explore how such a goal could be accomplished.
In this project, you will design a system to collect, organize, and store digital data such as photos, video, text, and sound; combine these sources to form "memories" (stand-alone stories about some aspect of a person's life); and present these memories in a way that is (ideally) easily accessible, retrievable, and searchable. You can design this as either a web site or as a standalone piece of software.
This project touches upon a number of computer science, media studies, and cognitive science concepts. The main concept areas of this project are:
Note that some of the references in this list are journal articles, which are not typically available on the web. Your group might want to meet before the summer to plan out what materials you'd like to obtain from the library before you leave if you wish to do some reading. Carleton has a very good electronic system for obtaining PDF copies of articles from journals which we do not own; you can get these via the "Interlibrary Loan" link at the library "Find" page.
Cohene, T., Baecker, R., Marziali, E., and Mindy, S. (2007) Memories of a life: a design case study for Alzheimer's disease. In J. Lazar (Ed.), Universal Usability: Designing Computer Interfaces for Diverse Users, (pp. 357-388). Chichester, England: John Wiley and Sons, Ltd. (Note: Read this article first.)
Baines, S., Saxby, P., and Ehlert, K. (1987) Reality orientation and reminiscence therapy: a controlled cross-over study of elderly confused people. British Journal of Psychiatry, 151, pp. 222-231.
Kasl-Godley, J., and Gatz, M. (2000) Psychosocial interventions for individuals with dementia: an integration of theory, therapy, and a clinical understanding of dementia. Clinical Psychology Review, 20(6), pp. 755-782.
Chen, B-W., Wang, J-C., and Wang, J-F. (2009) A Novel Video Summarization Based on Mining the Story-Structure and Semantic Relations Among Concept Entities. IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, 11(2), pp. 295-312.
O'Hare, N., and Smeaton, A.F. (2009) Context-Aware Person Identification in Personal Photo Collections. IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, 11(2), 220-228.
Cao, L., Luo, J., Kautz, H., and Huang, T.S. (2009) Image Annotation Within the Context of Personal Photo Collections Using Hierarchical Event and Scene Models. IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, 11(2), 208-219.
MyLifeBits, a Microsoft Research project.
MemoryMiner: digital storytelling software (2009). http://www.memoryminer.com/ (accessed April 2009).
Barrett, H. (2009) Digital storytelling. http://electronicportfolios.org/digistory/ (accessed April 2009).
Center for Digital Storytelling (2009). http://www.storycenter.org/index1.html (accessed April 2009).
Alzheimer's Association (2009). What is Alzheimer's disease? http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp (accessed April 2009).