Short Memory of the Net

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Much like society, there are alot of problems with the internet and how it functions. Especially in terms of how people use the internet, what becomes popular, and what is commonly done or not done. Today I’m thinking about history, personal histories, and how they are recorded, archived, and passed on.

Over the summer I’m standing in a shop with my mother, in the small city of Caldas da Rainha, when the clerk behind the counter looks up at my mom. “You don’t remember me do you? Secondary school? We were in the same class… I know I look very different, but I recognize you!” What followed was the usual trip down memory lane, some names forgotten, some friends remembered. Then the clerk excitedly reports: “You know there’s a blog! Yes… one of those sites.. where we’ve posted old photos (circa 1960’s) and we’re trying to get people to explain the photos; who is who, where we are, and when it was taken.” My mom looked at me with that “did you hear that?” look.

My Mom's high school class. That night we went to the alleged blog, and sure enough, a bunch of blog posts with black and white photos. And indeed.. a few scattered comments with people posting names and writing things like “oh my god I can’t believe you have this photo, I recognize her but who is that behind us.” Naturally mom got to work naming names and frequently shouting to me about how cool it was to see photos of her friends from almost 40 years ago.

What a simple yet vital use of the internet. To gather information, record and piece together our histories. Trying to get the people, places, and dates organized so that they won’t be forgotten.. but instead.. passed on. Also in hopes of reconnecting people who cared so much for each other. Not to mention remembering how things were then.. and how or why life had changed.

Recently I noticed Todd’s lost and found photos project. Not exactly the same thing, but the spirit remains the same. Using photos, piecing together stories, seeking to understand histories… personal histories.

What the internet needs, is less minutia.. less energy talking about nothing or trying to sell one another something, and more recording of history. More reporting about the present, the past, and sure some reflection on the future. Your family history, your classmates from 6th grade, your first job.. all these moments in your life had an influence on who you are… they deserve to be remembered.. and this could be the place to help us remember.