Technology Tuesday: Memolane – Replaying the soundtrack of your life

If you are familiar with Last.FM, Memolane is relatively similiar. Except rather than simply “scrobbling” (the term Last.FM uses for cataloging the music you listen to) your music, Memolane scrobbles your life!

The process is simple. Sign up for a Memolane account on their site. Choose a user name and you are immediately taken to the services control panel where you can choose which services you want Memolane to use to build your personal timeline. Services available now include Last.FM, Facebook, Twitter, TripIt, Foursquare, YouTube and many others.

Adding services control panel in Memolane

After you select each service and give proper credentials to authorize it, you will have the option of making each service “Public,” “Friends Only” or “Private.”  This makes it easy to, for example, share your Foursquare check-ins with just friends, keep your TripIt plans private and your Twitter tweets public.

Public, Friends Only or Private Setting

Once you have set up your services, there’s nothing more to do. Memolane will work in the background and periodically query your connected services to see if there are  new Facebook posts, Foursquare check-ins, Last.FM scrobbles, TripIt trips, Picasa pictures posted, etc.  Then sit back and let your timeline build! Revisit as often or as infrequently as you want. Frankly, I had signed up for Memolane with a beta account and completely forgot about it. When I re-visited, I had a full year timeline completely built out. Conveniently, Memolane is actually able to aggregate much information prior to signing up and connecting the particular service. For example, if you have Picasa pictures or YouTube videos as part of your Memolane, the dates that you originally uploaded them will appear on your “lane”. Thus, the first dates of my Memolane date all the way back to 2003!

So What Does the Memolane look like?

All your connected services are neatly, crisply and stunningly displayed on a timeline that is easy to scroll to the particular date that you are interested in “replaying.”

Example of a “Memolane”

So with Memolane, it makes it very easy to relive a certain special weekend, trip or time in your life. You can instantly see your travel, posts, check-in’s, tweets and music you were listening to all neatly organized. Clicking Last.FM, Foursquare, and other services that are clumped by date expand that category. Oddly, Twitter does not seem to have this ability as every Tweet stands on its own. Once expanded, you have the ability of going directly to the source material for the “memo” (thus clicking the “link” button would take me to my Last.FM page), generating a link to share with others, or sharing directly with Facebook or Twitter.

Last.FM expanded

Scrobbling & Replaying Music

Of course, having your vast music listening history cataloged by Memolane necessitates having the music be scrobbled to Last.FM to begin with. If you are unfamiliar with this process, there are ways to scrobble virtually all your music listening to Last.FM. You can scrobble while listening to Android, iPod, iPhone, iTunes, Foobar, Turntable.FM, Songbird, Sonos, Amazon Cloud Player, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry and virtually any other way you consume audio. If you are uncertain on ways to scrobble for your device or machine, a simple Google should fix that.

Now, once your scrobbling is setup with Last.FM, not only are your statistics, plays and library being built in Last.FM, Memolane is creating a timeline of those songs. You’ll be able to look back in a few years and see what your music taste was at the time, re-acquaint yourself with a band you were listening to but forgot about, and even play back those songs.

In order to playback anything more than a clip from Amazon, you’ll also need to be a Spotify member. We recently reviewed Spotify on HiddenTrack. Once you’ve toggled Spotify as your play back choice in settings, when you are browsing your timeline, simply clicking a song initiates playback in your Spotify player.

Cool Things to Know about Memolane

  • You can create collaborative “stories” with other users Suppose you and five friends are heading out to say a Phish New Year’s Festival 2011. You can create a shared “story” on Memolane. All your tweets, Last.FM scrobbles, pictures, Facebook posts, Foursquare check-ins from your crew for the weekend are neatly displayed on a separate “memolane.” This creates a fun, easy way to relive a group experience with a virtual scrapbook of the event.
  • RSS Feeds You can add any RSS feed to your Memolane as well, making adding dozens of other services not natively supported possible.
  • Embeddable Just like a YouTube video, Memolanes are easily embeddable on a website making it easy to share your Memolane on a blog site or other website.
  • Toggle Different Views Clicking the ‘Person’ image on the date slider gives you the ability to toggle different views. You can view your Memolane as only you see it, as friends see it, and as the public sees it. This makes it easy to ensure that your services are set up with the privacy options that you desire.
  • Free & Open This is a free service and no invite needed. Sign up here: Memolane Sign-Up

Drawbacks

Memolane has a few things that can be improved. Some of the services need more fine grain control. For example, when YouTube is connected, there is no way to have only your own uploads added to Memolane. In YouTube’s case, “Favorited” videos are also added when this may not be desired.

Sometimes, scrolling large lapses of time brings a slight lag and your timeline needs to rebuild. Although a minor inconvenience, it does not detract from the usability too much.

As previously mentioned, not all the services have their “memos” automatically consolidated for a day’s time. The daily timeline that extends from the top of the page has the day’s memos dropping vertically from there. Without consolidating, for example, your tweets, it necessitates needing to click and drag the items from that day to see the remainder of your memos that are not currently visible.

Not a drawback yet, but certainly one needs to wonder about the future for Memolane. One of a few different scenarios has to happen. Memolane figures out a way to monetize the service or Memolane goes away wiping out your music, social and online diary. If it is the former, one would imagine either a transition to pay service or advertising. Currently, one of the most attractive features of Memolane, is the clutter-free, ad-free, beautiful display of your timeline. Juxtaposing ads either within your timeline or elsewhere on the page, decreasing available space, seems hard to imagine that it could be done effectively without destroying the well thought out display. And of course, not many people are likely to be willing to pay to aggregate all the items that can be cataloged already by their individual services.

What do you think?

Used Memolane? Enjoy it? Sound interesting? Let us know what you think about this service in the comments section.

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Notes from last week: Hope existing DropBox users found an additional use or two with the service. And for all the MANY of you that signed-up, first, hope you are enjoying the convenience of file sync and second, thanks very much for signing up with the referral link!


Hidden Track Technology Tuesday
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One Response

  1. Love Memolane! Signed up when it was in beta thanks to a tweet of yours. My favorite services with it are Tripit and Foursquare. Great way to relive all my travels. Keep up the great columns!

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