The Future of our Past: Dis-Membering Social Memory into Bits and Bytes

Talk by Assistant professor Attila Marton, Department of IT Management, CBS


Memory invokes the dynamic interplay between forgetting and remembering as the basis for the construction of a past aligned to what the future is expected to bring.
Propelled by the immense capacities to store data, the ideal of information technologies as a remedy against forgetting seems to be an overstatement considering the fact that digital media are based on the most radical classification possible – the classification of everything and anything into only two classes of 0 and 1. Digital memory is the dis-membrance of singular events into binary digits leading to the counter-intuitive conclusion that the storing of binary-based data itself is a way of forgetting.

Re-membrance, in turn, is the computational reconstruction of artefacts composed out of binary digits. Thus conceived, binary-based digital media are very ill-fitted for mnemonic purposes, since, for the first time, the conservation of a communication medium as such is not enough for societal remembering.