Midnight Rumblings: History, Memory & Technology

In one of his final poems, Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai explains that forgetting is a part of memory, that it takes two generations to remember, and then one more to forget (Open Closed Open). How do we measure a generation of time when collectively we can barely remember what happened last week?

True, the mundane begets forgetfulness. In the scheme of things, does the specificity of political jockeying or the size of a Derby hat matter long-term? Not really, or at least I hope not. But in an age of continuous connectivity, and unabated interconnectedness, are we starting to lose our sense of time and place?

Many others have written about the rapidly increasing pace of change due to technology, and about the increased complexity of our hyper-networked world. But what about the speed of history? With more and more being created, we have more and more to remember & forget. We now rely on data to help us plot trends, predict the future. Data, cut right, can unearth relationships we would have never seen.

This high churn of memory, of remember & forget cycles, forces us to rely on a wealth of knowledge that exists outside our brains & outside our collective consciousness. However, this reliance could spark a decline in organic pattern recognition, of knowing which questions to ask, or asking at all. Might it spark the end of history? (can of worms noted.)

Time & place are the grounded forces of identity formation and societal norms. I am by no means a technological pessimist, but the deluge of connectivity is perhaps more disorientating than a time machine.

With that, I reach for the only pause button that remains…sleep.

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