Augmented Memory of Today

From the wearable technology movement discussed in Peterson’s article, to the utopian idea of “total recall” presented in Penderson’s book chapter, the storage of human experience is presented as a new movement initiated by new technologies. While we have discussed augmented memory as a possibly worrisome experience that lacks creativity and human emotion, how do we feel about photographs today?

What makes a picture meaningful?
What makes a picture meaningful?

Isn’t documenting our daily lives and experiences through IPhone pictures, Facebook or Instagram forms of augmented memory? I would say it is a way to store our experience at that moment of time. Although a photograph only captures a snapshot of that experience, most of the time it is the experience behind a picture that makes it meaningful. When looking at your favorite photo, does it bring back positive memories as well as emotion? In this case, a form of augmented memory has possibly succeeded in capturing and storing a human experience.

However, augmented memory is less successful when the experience behind the picture is less meaningful than the picture itself. If your phone was out of memory and you needed to clear some space, which pictures would you consider deleting first? You would probably delete the pictures that mean the least to you. Even though a picture is a record of your past, it’s not worth keeping if theres no emotion to back it up.

Are we remembering our experiences or just the pictures we take?
Are we remembering our experiences or just the pictures we take?

A movement towards complete augmented memory should not be feared because it is a possibility, but feared if used improperly. Augmented memory can still capture emotion, as long as emotion was present in the experience in the first place. What we must avoid is reliance on these forms of memory as the only experience of the world around us. How often do we see tourists more focused on their camera lens than the scenery around them? A photograph, or any other form of augmented memory cannot be used to replace memories and experiences if we hope for them to have any meaning to us in the future.

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