Memory and media

Not too many millenia ago, just about everything we remembered happened to us. In real life.

Books and then radio and TV changed that. Orson Welles demonstrated that a radio drama could create feelings (and then memories of those feelings) that were as powerful to some as the real thing.

Eleven years ago, we all experienced an event of such enormity that it still haunts us. Some escaped, some saw it out their office window while others watched on TV.

Just a decade later, we're far more likely to both celebrate and generate our memories in 140 character bursts, or in short updates or in a 'breaking news' email. The short version amplifies our other memories. Neil Armstrong's death shook us not because we knew him, but because we remember watching him on TV… The blip of information alone was sufficient to give us pause.

A few generations ago, the only music most people heard was music we heard in person. Today, the most famous (and in some ways, important) people in our lives are people we will never meet.

As we continually replace real life with ever shorter digital updates, what happens to the memories we build for ourselves and the people we serve? More and more, we don't remember what actually happened to us, but what we've encountered digitally. It scales, but does it matter in the same way?