Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mediated Memories

Media scholar, José van Dijck, offers an important book on digital memory in his Mediated Memories in the Digital Age (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007). “Mediated memories are the activities and objects we produce and appropriate by means of media technologies,” he asserts, for creating and re-creating a sense of past, present, and future of ourselves in relation to others” (p. 21). “Mediated memories are not static objects or repositories but dynamic relationships that evolve along two axes: a horizontal axis expressing relational identity and a vertical axis articulating time,” (p. 21) speculating how documentary forms or objects, such as diaries and blogs, music recordings, and photographs are in constant flux. Focusing on personal memory, van Dijck believes that “every decision to buy a book or record, or to tape a television program, situates a person in his or her contemporary culture” (p. 24). Digital changes everything, even transforming such classic documentary forms as diaries. “Keeping a diary is at once a creative and communicative act, and it also serves as a memory tool: writing the self constructs continuity between past and present while keeping an eye on the future” (p. 57). While content in diaries is always the most important aspect of the record, the look and feel of the handwritten diary has always been important as well, reminding us that “As our technologies for writing change, so do our ways of creating self-reflective records; memory, in other words, is always implicated in the act and technology of writing” (p. 63).

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