The Mechanization of Memory
As we age, our ability to remember becomes stronger and then weaker.
“To Live is to Remember” is the hallmark of our humanity, but we are now tumbling down the divide of mechanisms instead of memories?
What happens when we acquiesce our memory to non-malleable machines instead of the temporary human being?
Once, we drew images on cave walls to preserve the memory of our eyes. Then we created film and gave over our internals to celluloid negatives. Now we have total mechanization of our vision with Flickr and Picasa and other virtual storage bins that more quickly become shared, fake, remembrances with the rest of the world instead of private touchstones for a moment in time.
Once, we placed pen on paper and released our memories into inky fiber to seal the passion of our hearts. Then the typewriter removed the human touch. Now our writing exists only on mechanized, temporary, screens in fleeting clouds as Docs in the ether of the Net. A manuscript burns once; a document lives a thousand times lost.
Once, we walked across a dirt field to visit our neighbors to bond the immediate now to the probable future. Then we leapt on a horse to visit, then we stepped on a streetcar, then we rode a steam train and then we flew in an airplane to stay in touch with those around us. Now we visit through mechanized email, iChats, and text messages. Twitter replaced the telephone call.
Are we to mourn the loss of human memory as it becomes sifted, broken down, indexed, propagated, advertised, fed and minced for the profit of the Internet?
Do we want all our internal thoughts stored beyond us in the computing cloud — wafting on unprotected barges in polluted oceans — sitting and waiting for extortion by pirates and for destruction by terrorists that want to remove all evidence of our collected memories from our machines?
Are memories made more brittle with preservation beyond the mind — or are our experiences made more elastic with their stretching into bits and bytes as they float along the unprotected abyss?