Ah, time capsules. It seems like nearly every high school senior class puts one together and buries it in the school yard. Maybe our ancestors will learn something about who we were. Or will aliens find the capsule one day?

Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing was the first to create a (hopefully) properly sealed time capsule as part of the first World’s Fair exhibition in 1939. As much as time capsules spark the imagination about what the future will be like, time capsules have actually driven technology.

Westinghouse’s Time Capsule I was the reason for the creation of a new alloy called Cupaloy that is expected to resist rust and cracking for 5,000 years. Westinghouse’s Time Capsule II is made of Kromarc, a type of stainless steel that was invented in time for the 1964 World’s Fair Time Capsule II. Kromarc was used for the second time capsule because it is much lighter than Cupaloy. The first time capsule weighs approximately 800 pounds, while the second weighs approximately 400.

The new Life in a Day time capsule won’t weigh anything near what the Westinghouse Time Capsules weigh because it a time capsule on film. Google, YouTube, and Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald have joined forces to create a time capsule that attempts to capture one day in the life of all humans on Earth.

On July 24, 2010 people all over the planet are encouraged to film their day. From mundane daily tasks like washing laundry and cooking dinner, to the big moments that we humans live for, like the marriage of good friends or the birth of a grandchild, the idea is to get it all on tape. Then, every person who participates will upload their footage to YouTube’s Life in a Day channel by July 31, 2010, thereby creating a sort of video time capsule that will be available to every person, everywhere, who has Internet access.

The bonus is that it is also a competition of sorts. Macdonald and executive producer Ridley Scott will watch all of the footage and will use a selection to create a feature-length documentary. The film will be released at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011, and contributors whose footage is used will be credited as co-directors of the film. Plus, 20 contributors will be chosen to attend the Festival premiere.

More comprehensive information on the project and how to participate is available via Google’s blog and YouTube’s Life in a Day channel. Guidelines are available here.

In this video, Macdonald talks about the documentary and offers ideas about what you might film on July 24, 2010.

Will you participate in the experiment? What do you think would make the most compelling video content? Take the poll and then share your thoughts about Life in a Day in the discussion.

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