For nearly all of human history, just about everything people have done has been forgotten because there was no way to record, store, and retrieve the events of their life and actions. With the introduction of photographs, tape recorders, and movie cameras, the advent of recording, storing and retrieving events of our lives began. Suddenly everyone wanted to retain memories of the past, thus ushering in the era of long-time stored memories. The good thing about these stored memories is they were generally private, thus not available to the world at large.
But now we have entered a new era of the stored memory arena. The Internet with its cached copies of every web page, blog post, photograph, video and social networking site profile has provided an archival record of all of our life’s events which are easily retrievable by the world at large. Before this mass retrievable archival records revolution people simply forgot about things after awhile. Social forgetting allowed everyone to move on with their life without the worry of some embarrassing passed event resurfacing at some ill conceived moment. Not anymore, just ask Marcel Proust (do an Internet search on that name, you will understand).
We now live in a society where remembrance of all things past is possible and accessible on demand. For many, this has created a fear that something they say or do online will somehow come back to haunt them in later years. The chances are it will. For this reason, we are becoming extremely cautious with what we say or do. People are beginning to stop taking risk and society will soon begin to suffer from this. Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, and everything you do there is some type of tool in place to automatically remember everything you do.
Think about…credit and debit cards compile and store how you spend your money. Supermarket and other retailer shopper membership cards record the food and clothing you buy. Traffic cameras are able to track you daily travel. Cell phone can be used to easily pinpoint your exact location and also store a record of every call you make…And it goes on and on. In this age of unlimited storage capacity, the age old art of remembering not to remember has been lost.
We are forgetting how to forget. Is there a solution? According to Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, author of Delete-The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, we need to stop creating tools that automatically remember everything, instead we should design them to forget. Some software and Web 2.0 developers are doing just that. Creating tools such as private sharing services, which automatically delete or remove your uploads, media, and post at a pre-designated time. There hope is to halt the amount of contributions fed into the automatic archive collection.
This is a start but there is still a long way to go. Technology has inverted humanities millennia old relationship with memory. Isn’t it time we converted it back?
Resource: Delete:The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger
Tags: technology, Delete-The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, memory, private sharing, forgetting