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RememberMe: Future Everything and the Internet of Things

Have you ever wanted to know the story behind the things you buy? Who owned the object from that charity shop and what about its history, the memories associated with it and why is it now for sale?

In association with Oxfam and part of the Manchester Future Everything Festival (12th-15th May) we are putting the history back into objects with the Art Project: RememberMe.

At the Oxford Road branch of Oxfam in Manchester, TOTeM (Tales of Things and Electronic Memory) will be attaching stories to the things that people leave behind, and allow new owners to access them.

The Oxfam Shop is appealing for donations of all shapes and sizes that can be tagged with memories as part of the in-store exhibition. Oxfam manager Emma Cooney has asked people to “Help us be part of this exciting project. Anyone who wants to share their memories of the things they donate to the shop is welcome to take part. It’s entirely voluntary, but maybe a once treasured object you no longer want has a story that can be passed on to its new owner".

The advent of digital tagging technology means that every new object in the future will be tagged and logged in a database accruing logistical information such as temperatures, prices, owners and transportation. The exhibition RememberMe introduces an opportunity to build an Internet of Old Things based upon stories not data. By attaching a barcode loaded with memories about the clothes and artefacts that visitors donate to the Whitworth Park branch of Oxfam, things will gain a social and cultural value.

Using scanners, delegates of Future Everything and the general public will be able to listen to memories and buy objects that come tagged with their very own story. We will have more on the 'scanners' soon - think iPhone RFID reader / Bluetooth Android device and with full details on how to make them yourself....

The RememberMe artwork is a collaborative project between TOTeM and Oxfam in Manchester which will be showcased at the Future Everything Festival (12-15 May 2010). During the time leading up to Future Everything (FE), a research assistant will be based in the shop and will ask people who drop things off to tell a brief story about one of the objects into a microphone: where they acquired it, what memories it brings back and any associated stories.

With their permission, this audio clip will be linked to an RFID tag and QR code. During the event, all items that have been tagged with a story will then join the shop’s stock. Visitors to the shop, including conference delegates will be invited to use our bespoke RFID readers, or their own smart phone to browse artefacts that are displayed amongst the many thousands of other objects.

Labels will highlight the RememberMe objects and once triggered, speakers located in the shop will replay the story, evoking ghosts of the past. Once tagged the objects are in the public domain for purchase by other members of the community, our iPhone apps will allow them to access the story for years to come.

You can tag your own objects, or indeed everything and anything via complete with its own free iPhone app, Android is coming soon. We do have a tendency to get fired up over such things, but really this one is going to be good -

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