Memory and the Web

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Dan at if:book writes:

I won’t pretend to be the first to see in the Internet parallels to the all-remembering mind of Funes; a book could be written, if it hasn’t already been, on how Borges invented the Internet. It’s interesting, however, to see that the problems of Funes are increasingly everyone’s problems. As humans, we forget by default; maybe it’s the greatest sign of the Internet’s inhumanity that it remembers. With time things become more obscure on the Internet; you might need to plumb the Wayback Machine at archive.org rather than Google to find a website from 1997. History becomes obscure, but it only very rarely disappears entirely on the Internet.

One important element of social memory here is the idea of historical presence: the meaning we give to events, objects, and actions. I don’t know what is on the web until I encounter it or add to its bulk. We add to the network, but the network exists to degrees of use, otherwise it stores, without filter, unlike memory.


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