Digital memories

We seek to remember more and more, by producing more and more. There’s no reason for any economy or careful framing in photography, when burst mode or a hundred different perspectives afforded by everyone present all can be uploaded, for free, in close to real time if need be. So much of remembering used to be linked to the joy of discovery or co-discovery around physical artefacts – going through an album, perusing a library or listening to someone recount a story. And yet for a generation that produces as much as we do, we actually don’t remember much.

Two books I’ve read recently (Ctrl+Z: The Right to be Forgotten and When we are no more: How digital memory is shaping our future) deal with the significant challenges around memorialisation online. Take the humble photo album. I have inherited many from my family. I have however only ever created a handful. 1,771 albums anchored to 22,768 photos I’ve taken digitally, over the past decade, now reside on the cloud on Google Photos, and for free. These albums have been generated, in the main, automatically by machine intelligence. My photos are searchable by location, face, colour or entity. How Google does this is nothing short of magical.

And yet, when I went to Senkada recently to actually print some photos of my son and I taken this year, I felt a wave of nostalgia around those old photo albums, often moth-worn, that held memories equally dear to a…

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