I’m at PLA in Portland OR and probably a little overwhelmed but I thought that this series in Gizmodo on Memory was just too interesting not to share:
“You have more of your memories stored online than all of your ancestors ever left behind. The future of memory is already here.”
“Our DNA determines our physical appearance, the reasoning goes, and our predispositions to various illnesses, and plays a role in our general disposition and skill set. All of that has been passed down to us through countless generations. So why not memories? It sounds far-fetched, but there are still vast swaths of genetic code whose purpose is unknown. And the evolutionary advantages of having memories passed down—even one as simple as “FIRE BAD”—are overwhelmingly clear. Will we be able to tap into those memories any time soon?”
“Memory is a fickle thing. As far as my brain is concerned, I didn’t exist before age three. Remembering four or five is easier, but there are holes. Thankfully, all it takes are some voyeuristic navigation tools to fill them.
Google Maps and Street View. These burrs in the side of privacy advocates and “get off my lawn” technology-distrusting geezers are what I’ve found most useful when it comes to rebuilding hazy memories from a life long past”
“Lots of times the families will go down to Kinko’s,” the funeral director tells me. “They can do a memorial folder thing down there.” Do you help them get photos off Flickr, off Facebook? “We don’t really help with that.”
“The mad geniuses at DARPA have their next project lined up: a camera that can guide itself and report back from the field. That kind of visual intelligence has been an exclusively human trait, until now.”
“Take a good look at the downward trend of this graph—it’s important. It’s the reason why you’re only getting worse at first-person shooters and why you never feel as sharp as you were yesterday. It’s the human condition.”
“When memories can live forever online, there’s bound to be relationship issues, so we enlisted our favorite love doctor, Debby Herbenick, to share some advice. The question: When it’s all over, who gets custody of those shared digital memories?”
“Before there was random access memory, there was delay line memory. It was random in a different sense; it involved turning electrical pulses into sound waves, sending them through long tubes of mercury, and re-electrifying them at the other end.”
“So, all this storage talk has gotten you excited about upgrading your laptop’s crappy old 120GB drive? It’s about time, dammit.”
“Today I’d like to talk to you about…backing up. I don’t just mean connecting an external hard drive to your laptop and transferring all your files over. I’m talking ’bout backing up the cloud.”
“It’s easy to rip your CDs and turn them into easily stored digital files: You pop in a CD, click a few buttons, done. Now try ripping a book into a digital format. Struggling? Here’s setup you’ll wish you had. More »
“Just like hard drive sectors can fail, neurons can go bad as data processing, memory-storing units in your brain. In this video, a neuron lacks the protein needed to make connections with other cells, essentially becoming a bad sector”
“You’re looking at a woman who resembles your mother. She moves and talks like your mother, and she’s even dressed the same as your mother. In fact, she is your mother. But you’re absolutely certain that she’s an imposter.”
“Just a few years ago there were no virtual social networks, no synchronized address books, and no smartphones. But people had social networks and phones, and they had to memorize and organize thousands of contacts. Or have a Rolodex.”
Imagine a format that lies somewhere between photos and video, and a device that takes that format automatically, without you having to click a button. Microsoft’s SenseCam is a prototype that hangs around your neck, lifecasting everything you see.
“We say pictures can’t replace memories, but when Halley’s Comet last swooped across the sky, many of us were too young to care. Our next chance to see it—about 50 years from now—will be probably be our last.”
“Carr’s book, the Night of the Gun, is about that change, mostly. His story is one of the downtrodden man coming around to a sweeter life; classic. But what’s also striking is Carr’s self awareness. That in order to confront his past—which is muddled through drug addiction and time—he has to first fact check it using a reporter’s toolbox, interviewing ghosts from his past, police records and medical files. One lesson, as it pertains to this week’s theme: Memories can deceive and escape us because it’s sometimes safer and easier to let them. And so, facing down the darker facts of one’s life takes a type of courage seldom seen, but demonstrated, by Carr, in this book.”
The Future of Storage
“If you take the guts of a Blu-ray or DVD player, blow it up, and spread it across a work bench, it looks like this. So you might be surprised to know that you’re looking at the future of storage.”
“It’s easy to claim that the stuff you liked as a kid was way better than the crap kids watch today, because you haven’t seen it in years. But now you can, in better quality, even. Does it hold up?”
What Happens (Online) When We Die: Twitter
“One day, you’re going to die. And when you do, your online presence—like your social network profiles, your blog comments, and your web services—will serve as your very first memorial. Here’s how it’ll play out.”
“Consciousness lost, breathing stopped, pulse gone. Someone just slipped into cardiac arrest. In order to preserve the precious memories and thoughts at risk right now, we’re gonna have to squirt some perfluorocarbon coolant up a nose and chill a brain.”
There’s little action, no sound, and the footage is grainy. But this brief clip may be the only existing video of writer Mark Twain and his daughters Clara and Jean. It was captured in 1909 by inventor Thomas Edison.
“”The cloud” isn’t some nebulous thing existing just beyond your computer’s consciousness. As Microsoft showed us, it’s stacks of hard drives packed into shipping containers, parked in secret data centers all around the world. Physically real, but still beautiful.”
“We collect an astonishing amount of digital information. But as the Economist recently pointed out in a special reports, we’ve long since surpassed our ability to store and process it all. Big data is here, and it’s causing big problems.”
“Normally I’d file this image under our “what is this” image cache, but as you’ve already clocked, it’s somehow related to our Memory [Forever] theme. Those pretty colors are a visualization of the thousands of Wikipedia edits made by a bot”
“If data centers are the brains of an information company, then Google is one of the brainiest there is. Though always evolving, it is, fundamentally, in the business of knowing everything. Here are some of the ways it stays sharp.”
“Researchers have discovered that increasing production of a protein called RGS-14 could significantly boost visual memory. They are currently investigating the exact effects on humans, but all I can think is: Photographic memory in pill form.”
We library folk often call say that we serve as custodians of society’s memory and that we run memory institutions. These short articles on ‘memory’ prove interesting, to me at least.