Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why do we remeber?

In the Monday’s lecture, Professor Chun talked about how digital media is creating plethora of information but it is also “lack” of information because information is disappearing everyday and that constant regeneration affects what to recall. As Professor showed us one of her “dead” websites that she created few years back, the blank images of the site got me to seriously think about what it means to keep the past, to archive memories and meticulously remember these archives. For what purpose should we record? Why should we bother to remember at all?

According to Bush, in his article “As We May Think,” he notes that recording has a scientific purpose, and that it is closely linked to progress, “a record if it is to be useful to science, must be continuously extended, it must be stored, and above all it must be consulted.” Bush argues that the precise thing that prevents scientists to progress is the inability to have adequate scientific archive. His proposal of “Memex” was particularly interesting to me in the sense that he is writing about a technology that does not exist yet in 1948, a machine with human’s capacity to associate different information together. His description of the Memex as a desk which can project information on two planes, which can link information and remember the linkage forever, seemed very interesting but it also got me to wonder what do we do we with all those meticulous archiving? Is it really needed for scientific progress, as Bush argues? What is human being’s role in the world if machines take over the human capacity to link different information together and actually have power over human beings in that they have permanent memory? What will eventually happen if human beings become too dependent on Memex? I just felt that Bush argues for the importance of Memex in the world but does not do a good job in explaining “why.”

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