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Continuing talk about Mayer-Schönberger and Forgetting

It's something we don't do much of anymore.


  1. Parts of our psychology and society (learning, self-improvement, relationships) are built around the complex and flexible ways we remember and forget.
  2. Analog "external memories" have always incurred a massive cost to retain. Improvements in digital storage and computation have reduced the cost of saving "everything" to nearly zero. For example, Google records the many billions of queries its search engine receives daily.


  1. "External memory may act as a memory cue, causing us to recall events we thought we had forgotten. If human forgetting is at least in part a constructive process of filtering information based on relevance, a recall triggered by digital memory of an event that our brain has 'forgotten' may undermine human reasoning."
  2. "...comprehensive digital memory may exacerbate the human difficulty of putting past events in proper temporal sequence."
  3. " remembering may confront us with too much of our past and thus impede our ability to decide and act in time, as well as to learn."
  4. "...when confronted with digital memory that conflicts with our human recollection of events, we may lose trust in our own remembering."

Digital memories are not human-friendly. A digital photograph doesn't just "pull a memory from a file bank in our brain" when we see it.

This harkens to Neil Postman and others marking the differences in mediums. Reading is logical and fart when you does't make sense reject. Visual stimulation is more forgiving, like in collage. You can show a rubber duck, then flash a picture of a nuclear explosion, then a clip of Ronald Reagan, and despite the separate images not being particularly tied together, the brain is more willing to associate the imagery.

Personal exposition

Digital memories are perfect, ubiquitous (you can have these memories on any screen, just copy it from one place to another), and challenge our own memories. We think they are objective and truer than our own memories because they don't seem to change.

One anscillary effect is that we have all become little performance optimization engineers in our lives. Trying to "life hack" our quirks and perceived failings. Seeking out the perfect reminders and notes. Recording whatever we can. Even if the indie crowd will reject the big tech giant solutions for these things, they will still pursue saving all their precious memories in digital perfection.

Or, as Mayer-Schönberger touches on, since you cannot know how your digital memories will be accessed in the future - you don't know when, or by whom - you may recede from digital memory altogether.

Maybe there is a middle ground that would add some artificial brainery to our perfect digital memories.

It could be in more legislation like the GDPR, that sets more requirements on those saving the memories.

Or we could silo our memories and suffer less reliable technology by not putting it in ubiquitous cloud machines.

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IMO, digital memory *isn't* more durable than analog ones... And I appreciate the specialness of physical mementos. So I think of physical for what I really care about, and restrict my Online presence to groups where I'll be appreciated as an oddity.

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