Thursday, 28 December 2006

The Texture of Memory

The Texture of Memory by James Young is an amazing book. While it primarily focuses on holocaust memorials, the book is filled with brilliance about memories, history and our perception of events in the past from multiple perspectives. As one reviewer put it:

"...the author reminds us, [that Memory] is never neutral or value-free. We do not have instant recall--direct access to the facts as they were. Thus it is not just the future that brings change: the past, too, is always being altered, caught between an originating event and the impossibility of ever recapturing it."

And yet now we have these networks of intertwined memories. How will this change our ability to have a collective interpretation or claim some form of objectivity in the future looking back on our past? Do we now, as we might assume, have direct access to the facts, or is it the opposite with our ability to manipulate the facts that much greater in this networked world?

We appear to trust the network and trust the memory of the network almost more than our own individual memories and that is likely to grow as more and more of us document bits and pieces of ourselves over our lifetimes online.

In a larger context, it means that events begin to be interpreted by the network and it becomes not just something said by one person but by a 1000 or a million and soon it becomes our memory whether it be necessarily so or not.

It will be interesting to watch what the longer term affects that this age of user generated content (or whatever your buzz word you choose to describe it) might have on history and our later historical interpretations of our collective memories.


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