Online memories extending beyond people and time

Three happenings hit me last week that reminded me of how long events/memories/images of the near and distant past can have lives long beyond the few moments that they are experienced and spread way beyond the people who experience them.
  • One of my grade school classmates is posting class pictures from Facebook and tagging them with the people he has reconnected with.  After our 10-year HS reunion, a bunch of us reconnected and I give kudos to Alex who has dug-up and scanned a bunch of photos like early class pictures and tagged them with the people shown.  On one hand, it’s a kick to see awkward 3rd grade class photos and to be able to click-through to many of the people to see where they are now. 
  • My HS youth group advisor recently posted a link to a blog post one of his friends wrote about a road trip they were on in 1985 from their cornfield college in Illinois to Memphis, TN to visit the grave of Elvis.  On one hand, it was awesome to read the story of a friend’s college experience.  On the other had, I wonder if it would have read different if I had been reading it a dozen years ago when he was my youth group advisor; or if it had been posted shortly after the trip was taken.
  • danah boyd gave a lecture about how young people are negotiating technologies for communication like IM and Social Networking services and addressing challenges around the length of time that content will be around (potentially forever) and the scope of the viewership (potentially public with the ease at which digital text, images, and video can be copied.)

As more and more content gets posted online (and is search-able), there are of course challenges in how people manage their images.  (Ex: Michael Phelps.)  But I think even more interesting will be how the collective community judges actions that many people know happen (like underage drinking.)  I would imagine that nearly everyone involved looks back fondly on the 1985 road trip with almost 25 years of hindsight; but I wonder what the impression would be if the pictures had been posted contemporaneously. 

As more and more of our lives are documented online (whether by us or our friends), I hope that we’ll be able to collectively recognize the value in sharing the memories and reconnecting with faded friendships; as well as not judge others by standards we would not have imposed prior to the availablity of the technology.

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3 Responses to Online memories extending beyond people and time

  1. Christopher says:

    The last part of your final sentence is as wise as the first that you bolded.

  2. Rob says:

    Thanks Christopher. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Favorite Past Posts (2009 and 2010) « Rob Dolin's Blog

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