Quick: how many web-connected devices do you have? The fact that you’re reading this on a screen means you probably have at least one — a smart phone? — and possibly more, like a laptop, tablet, watch, or even late-model car. And you’re not alone: according to networking giant Cisco Systems, Americans owned 441 million mobile connected devices in 2015, or at least one for every man, woman, and child in the country (some of us get extra). Sound about right? But wait, there’s more coming: by 2020, the number of future devices is expected to more than double to a billion. You may not put much confidence in palmistry or tea leaves, but it’s probably a safe bet that the future will be full of devices, and they’ll be connected.
While we can’t be entirely sure what we’ll be using all these devices for in the future, we do know what we use them for today:
Text, VoIP, video calls, social media, and the occasional ‘phone call’
Shopping, news, games, but mostly: cat videos
Writing, photography, illustration, videos
Contacts, calendars, to-do lists, planners
Let’s take a look at number three for a minute: Creation. Most of today’s devices have super-capable cameras, and we do, as a species, take a ton of pictures. How many pictures in a ton? According to research firm InfoTrends, we took over 1 trillion pictures in 2015. (Let’s pause for a minute to let that sink in. Because that’s a lot of pictures. That’s a one followed by 12 zeroes. If you personally set out to take that many pictures, and managed to squeeze off, say, 10 million every day, it would still take you — wait for it — 273 years to hit your goal). We take a lot of pictures. When you look at your handheld device, chances are that most of your storage is taken up by pictures. Let’s call them portable pictures.
Until now, Snapchat aside, we’ve had, well, a casual relationship with our portable pictures. There’s only so much space in that thing in our pocket, so we generally keep pictures around to post, or send to friends and family. After that, they sit on the device until we need to free up some storage, or we leave the device in a cab, or drop it in a puddle getting in a cab, or just replace it with the new fabulousness. You might hold a black belt in backup, but you get the general idea: portable pictures are also perishable pictures.
Right. But what if they weren’t? What if we each had one location to store all our portable pictures, from all our devices? What if we could quickly organize them into the stories of our lives (which is what portable pictures really are)? What if we could pass these stories on to our kids, and our kids’ kids, as stories are meant to? If we did that, we’d cross over from the Creation function of our devices — capturing moments in pictures — and into the Remembrance function. Our moments, kept kept safe and organized, have crossed over into memories. Accessible — and viewable, sharable — at any time.
But not so fast. There are important friction points to consider before we can realize this vision. What about…
Individual devices have limited storage, and can’t hold everything we’ll create in a lifetime. (How many zeroes was that again?)
Unless time is taken to manually consolidate them onto one system, pictures are typically stored on the device that generated them.
Many consider using a Cloud solution like Dropbox, iCloud or Google Photos. But ‘cloud’ is just another name for someone else’s computer. In other words, it’s simply another device, also with finite capacity, and, significantly, it’s a device owned by a corporation who can and will use information it harvests from your photos to sell you things, or any other purpose in their lengthy Terms of Service. (Black belts in Terms of Service are rare indeed).
Only one or two of your devices is likely to be handy at all times.
One way to solve this problem is to have all your devices talk directly to each other, sharing content sized to fit the view screen and memory available… a self managing network of all your devices working together to make all your pictures available to you all the time.
That future is closer than you might think.
Apps like Mylio are doing exactly this using a 20th-century technology called peer-to-peer. You may know about peer-to-peer from Napster’s wild and crazy days, or more recently from services like Pirate Bay, where different users shared content directly (and often illegally) with each other via the Internet. Mylio removes the need for the Internet and creates an encrypted peer-to-peer connection between all Mylio connected devices on a local network (like your home or office WiFi), allowing Mylio to intelligently and securely monitor and manage your pictures on all your devices. You choose one or more devices to be the one(s) that store all original files; these files — perishable as we know them to be — are then backed up to ensure they are protected from the catastrophic failure of any one device. Even better, you can set up devices at different locations, like home and work, and be redundantly backing up all your originals in multiple locations, protecting the files from loss from __ (Fire? Flood? Theft? Insert your force majeur here).
Mylio is designed to be what they call “platform agnostic”, meaning that Mylio doesn’t care what kind of devices you are using. You can have Windows PC, Mac OS X, Android Phone and Tablet, and Apple’s iOS on iPhone and iPad, and all of them can run Mylio and manage your pictures. The most gratifying result of this system is being able to view, edit and share all your images from all devices from any one device.
Apps like Mylio are ushering in a paradigm shift of epic proportions. If our devices could talk to each other, regardless of operating system, and take over the organization, management and protection of our media while we’re creating more than ever before, now we can talk about our media legacy for the first time in history. We can collect the pictures that matter, telling the stories of our families, our adventures, our misadventures — our lives — and have them available to share with future generations. This future: it’s at hand.