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The Pensieve: a database that collect and display memories

The Pensieve as an online application would work as a letter database that collects and displays people's memories about the late one.

Photo of Hongbo Guo
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

By designing an application which could allow others record their reflections on one particular person, the accumulative memories could serve as a looking self mirror to reimagine the experience.

Somewhere in the back of our minds, we all know that we are going to die. Even further back in our minds, we have a vague understanding that death could happen to us at any moment, though millions of moments have been spent and we are still breathing.

Human beings are social animals. That means we are never alone even if we are. Contemporary sociologists raise the idea of individualization arguing modern social institutions prompt people to be independent and self-determining individuals who take responsibility for their own life choices. However, this is not necessarily contradicted to 'strong ties' individuals have built through their lives. There are always people who care about you, help you and wish you all the best. Therefore one's death could possibly mean so much for his or her social connections who constitute one's memories.

Through the lens of 'looking-glass self' theory, a social psychological theory arguing that a person's self grows out of society's interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others, we learn that what makes us 'us' could possibly be constructed by others: our families, friends, acquaintance, etc. So it is assumed that one's life could be re-present by his or her social network.

Remember the first time you met he or she? What is your first impression on him? What events you have been together? What have you learned from this person? If you could summarize his or her personalities in three words, what would it be? What makes you admire or have respect for this person? ... Why don't we record our thoughts on this person and keep it in Pensieve?  

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Start small conversations with people to construct specific contents of the application.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

IT engineering.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a college student doing HR studies.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mansi Parikh

Great idea Hongbo. Our Member Tim de Roos has come up with an idea Legacy ( that could easily combine with yours. I thought I might connect you two and you may be able to work together. 

Photo of Hongbo Guo

Hi Mansi,
Thank you so much for your advice. I have just checked Tim's idea and I have to say I am so impressed and inspired by it. I would start a conversation with Tim soon. Thanks again.

Photo of Mansi Parikh

Great! I'm hope you guys can collaborate and create a really awesome combined solution.