Earlier this month, at a friend’s house, she read aloud a notification from Facebook informing her that at this time, on this date one year earlier, she had been at Bar X watching Band Q. It made me think of how much we rely on our digital “external” memories to keep a running log of our lives, so as to not burden our brains with having to remember anything we do. Yet, we can’t always control how those memories resurface or become connected within our apps.
The FB notification was seemingly only triggered by the date/time. I find date/time is rarely something closely associated with a memory or experience. Other elements, such as location, company, smells, ambiance, emotions, etc. are more likely to conjure up memories for me. In fact, unless something really specific happened on a certain date (e.g. anniversary, birthday, large event), I won’t rely on a specific date as a reference point.
I notice a lot of apps trying to recreate memories for us based on time stamps, geotagging, and contextual clues gleaned from emoticons and tags. This also means the information has to be available for the app to synthesize. But how much information has to be captured to imitate how humans remember something?
As mentioned earlier, many of my triggers are based on non-tangible elements such as emotion and smell. Maybe if I put a little emoticon next to every post there could be a running log of my emotions. That way even my emotions could be translated into a readable code ready for analysis so I could be reminded every time I felt a certain way. But is that useful or beneficial for me?
Would it be cool to know what you were thinking at a certain time/date? Maybe…
For how long would that information be useful?
Personally, I would rather not preserve and record every moment of my waking life with images and digital logs, even if it was all done automatically. It would be too much content to search through and manage. Likely I wouldn’t even care about most of it. I have a lot of silly thoughts and do some pretty dumb things I would rather not be reminded about.
Also, digitally preserving memories means they maintain the same interpretation every time. When I preserve memories in other ways, I’m allowed to recreate, or imagine them in different ways.