Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Memolane Makes Web Memories Last

Social media has a memory problem. Services like Facebook and Twitter exist primarily in the present. If I deleted my account on either site tomorrow, it would be a chafe to recreate all my connections, but I could start where I left off content-wise without feeling that I’d lost much. Though so many of our lives’ moments now exist online, rarely do we sit back and reminisce.

Facebook now allows users to “Download Your Information” into a Zip file, and Twitter has gotten somewhat better at storing older tweets so you can scan and search through them (they used to seemingly drop off a cliff). But there’s still an opportunity to help people enjoy the archive of their lives by making beautiful mashups and skins for these services.

The best-designed site I’ve seen to help create digital scrapbooks is named Memolane, and it calls them “web time machines.” If you want to try Memolane out, the Copenhagen-based company is doing its first public release of beta invites today.

Memolane’s interface is a horizontal timeline (partially pictured above). You plug in your social media accounts: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, TripIt, Spotify, etc., and Memolane imports everything you’ve ever done on them and organizes it chronologically. Then use the arrow keys to scan through your life, or click on the expandable time line to see a specific day. You can keep your Memolane account completely private, make it public, or create a shared account where people can add items related to a specific group experience (say, all the pictures taken at a wedding).

Memolane is a lot like FriendFeed and other services that don’t make sense for people who don’t already express themselves in multiple places online. And there may not be a strong enough reason for some people to come back. This is basically a presentation layer for data that’s stored elsewhere, with no real interactions happening on Memolane itself (yet).

But I could see Memolane being useful in a number of different ways: in addition to personal scrapbooking, you might want to create a Memolane of your public-facing feeds and turn it into a personal splash page, something that’s more dynamic than alternatives like Or you might want to write a collaborative story of a major event in your life like the founding of a startup, as Memolane itself has done.

The company has already built some neat integrations; for instance, if you plug in your history from or Spotify and then scan to a day where you were listening to music, you can replay those tunes inline. Overall, the HTML5 interface is responsive though not terrifically customizable.

Memolane has raised $2 million from Atomico Ventures and August Capital (CEO Eric Lagier is connected with both firms from his work running mobile for Skype from 2005 to 2008). Lagier said like to move the company to the San Francisco Bay Area if he can; for now its official headquarters are an SF mailing address on Market Street.

In terms of competition for Memolane, there are some direct ones like OurStory and AllofMe but they are not nearly as well designed. Dipity is a nice service that helps people build interactive timelines on any topic. There’s also the angle of making your archive of data more interesting by making it searchable, which is what Greplin is doing. But I don’t even want to look up the market research for how much money was spent on scrapbooking in the last year.

Memolane – Your time machine for the web from Memolane on Vimeo.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik