We like to quantify things now, with wearables and smart phones. And I must admit I'm prone to doing that. I don't know why others do it (well, I often have a good idea) but I do it as a conscious act of memory.
To some friends I have a phenomenal memory. It's true, too--what I remember I remember extremely well. I have noticed, though, that there are patches, stretches of years of my life that are like a shoddily-developed reel of film. There will be 160 frames that are crystal-clear, they never change, then several feet of footage--years--that have faded and burned over time.
Unlike a lot of people nearing 50, I'm not even worried my memory is fading; I'm sure it is not. However the thing that has come to concern me over time is the way my memory is organized--which is to say, badly. I know this isn't a unique condition. I know it happens to everyone. That doesn't mean I have to like it.
So I keep a very boring day diary. Passages are dull as dishwater. I note the weather that day. Odd household events. And I record things. This is the quantification. Today, for example, I used my wristwatch's stopwatch function to time a trip to the grocery, another to the bank, and then my workout. 36 minutes, 16 minutes and 23 minutes, respectively. I'm not even 100% why I do that, why it interests me, but it does, so on a semi-regular basis I set the stopwatch and time myself doing something stultifyingly normal.
And maybe it's even more than memory. Maybe it's a measuring of mortality. Maybe that's all quantification of self and activity. An effort to stamp a life into the either. Say 'I was here. I did these things,' and hope that somehow, one day, they matter.
Thinking of it that way, I can't fault the impulse, in myself or others. Memory is a negative burned with light, but pushing our information into zeroes and ones sets it down at a point in time.
I was here. I slept for 8 hours and 25 minutes. I ran for 23 minutes. My trip to the supermarket took 45 minutes. The day wheeled around me and I felt the wind and burned under the sun and I want to measure it. Measure, and record. And remember.