The Database: I Can't Remember A Thing

By | November 4, 2014

Memory is a key component to this weeks readings and the concept of memory, to me at least, brings to mind the concept  of materiality, where “memory” is held, and how we access it.  Otlet’s idea of The Mendaneum, brings these concepts together, consisting of very material cabinets of 3×5 index cards.  Otlet wanted to  “link” documents and knowledge, making a “réseau”—web—of human knowledge.”  The Mendaneum, holds “memory” and knowledge, within these cabinets, and obviously today we have “The Web,” which may seem to lack a material substance, but it does, in terms of wires,  servers, etc.  however the bigger question all of these reading ask implicitly, is how do we deal with all of information?

“Inside the Mendaneum” mentions The Phadreus, and how the new technology of writing will make people less reliant on their own memory and rely solely on writing to remember.  Molly Springfield suggests that  Socrates was right: writing (and Googling) does make us less reliant on our own stores of knowledge. But the larger point to be drawn from the Phaedrus is that information technologies change culture ineradicably.” Which, brings to mind our own reliance on the database today, to help us remember. When most “memory” today is located on searchable databases, how does it shape the way we think about memory? The database has definitely has opened up many possibility to link and explore, but what do we do when we realize “[d]igital media is degenerative, forgetful, eraseable,” and we cannot remember a thing (Chun 160)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *