Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Whilst doing some blog surfing yesterday, I stumbled upon a writer who rather eloquently described the changes to how our memories are stored, recalled and ultimately forgotten. Seeing as this blog is one way I store memories of things I stumble upon myself, it got me in a philosophical mood.

It's amazing how different 'storage' has become over the many thousands of human years. What originally was only in ones mind can now be conjured up in an instant, not from ones own mind, but on ones own hard drive. Narry a papercut, ink smudge or lost negative to remind you of that particular 'memory', just a bunch of 0's and 1's.

It brought back a conversation I had with my wife when I got my first digital camera. She felt it odd that with the press of a button, a piece of history is gone forever. Then there's the story of the Amish gentleman who refused to get his photo taken for his drivers licence since storing a digital copy of his image went against his religious beliefs. Beyond the risk of digital alteration (which has always been an issue since the invention of the eraser or airbrush), the digital age has crippled certain aspects of humanity, such as the ability to write longhand as the blogger pointed out, or the ability to rely solely on ones own recollection of an event. Being able to take 500 photos of a concert took away the ability to just sit/stand there and enjoy the event and replay it in my mind later. I was there. I know I was. I've got 500 photos to prove it. What was my favourite part? Hmmm....good question. Maybe I'll search YouTube and see if anyone's got video of it posted. Maybe that'll tweak me. How sad. Maybe to bring myself back to the dark ages, I'll get those last few rolls of film (from 2002) developed to see what my last pre-digital viewfinder captured.

Perhaps this is stubbornly why I hold onto old maps (rather than their PDF equivalents), old newspaper articles (ditto), and stubbornly make the trip to the local record shop to purchase a shrink-wrapped silver disc to play once, burn to my MP3 player, then file on a bookshelf. My version of Luddite-ism fills the walls of my little home office, although not exclusively. My "stuff" is scattered everywhere. Indeed, I could fill my 400 Gb hard drive with digital equivalents of much of said stuff, but where's the fun in that?

The only point to all this, I guess, is that our filing cabinets, fridge doors and magazine racks will soon go the way of tablets, hammers and chisels. My only hope is that when someone finds a way to decode the 0's and 1's on the little black box my kids have stored in their basement, they'll think that Dad was pretty cool.

Until they find the box of transit maps, anyway.

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