- From shoebox to performative agent: the computer as personal memory machine
- New Media & Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 7 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Digital technologies offer new opportunities in the everyday lives of people: with still expanding memory capacities, the computer is rapidly becoming a giant storage and processing facility for recording and retrieving ‘bits of life’. Software engineers and companies promise not only to expand the capacity of personal memory infinitely, but even revolutionize its nature. Both in the past and recent years, the idea of a universal memory machine has been conceptualized in fantasies and actual projects (e.g. Vannevar Bush’s ‘Memex’, 1945). Discussing the intentions of contemporary technical projects (Shoebox, Experience on Demand) as well as visionary projects (Lifestreams, Memories for Life, MyLifeBits), this article critically analyses how digital personal memory machines use the computer as a model for the way in which memory works. Rather than looking at computers as jukeboxes of memory, it proposes to pay attention to the performative nature of machines in the acts of remembering.
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