Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Memory Project

How does a community remember? How do digital communities integrate past knowledge into new conversations? How does social media begin to store, categorize and most importantly serve up collective memories for examination and self-awareness?

Just a few questions posed for a side project I am starting...would love your input.


Colin said...

Really good question Rob. I think digital communities have had the rap of not having a collective memory, with people filtering in and out so easily and the 24/7 nature of the web moving things into the distance all too quickly.

I think there is some merit in that statement. But I also think that digital communities will form and protect their memories the same way real world communities do: through a sustained effort that provides the community with ownership of what they are doing and encourages people to stick around. This will naturally spawn what the corporate world calls "institutional memory".

You have to have a core group that finds it worthwhile to stick it out, leading newcomers with a sense of welcome but also historical perspective.

Also, just as in the real world, customs and traditions must develop and be enforced in some manner. This leads to a sense of continuity that people expect in their real world lives and probably want with their online lives.

To give a small example that applies to the collective community of the internet, at some point the idea of TYPING IN ALL CAPS became frowned upon. Almost anywhere you go online now, you will find that tradition, which is enforced by people pointing this out to new posters and coming down hard on those that continue doing this.

Just a few quick thoughts.... Thanks for the blog!

bodyofwork said...

I'd like to see memories gathered, stored and served by geographic locations - like on a map. Categorization might be through free or fixed tagging.

Google maps integrates photos and Wikipedia entries to specific addresses. I'm hoping video could also be included. Check out the "More" button next to Traffic. It's mostly art and travel photos at the moment.

With public purpose lenses on, perhaps the home movies, photos and documentation (including Wikipedia entries?) of a physical community can be filtered into a geographic cluster, organized by key topics, and editorially guided.

Further, as topics (tags?) of key subjects - gentrification, decline, crime, public events, physical disaster recovery - find their voice, different locations can learn from each other in the larger digital community by cross referencing those topics.

Although every community has unique challenges, many core issues are common. We can learn from each others experiences, and those can be the experiences of folks across the globe.