Creating the Witness examines the role of film and the Internet in creating virtual witnesses to genocide over the past one hundred years. Leshu Torchin’s broad survey of media and the social practices around it investigates the development of popular understandings of genocide to achieve recognition and response, ultimately calling on viewers to act on behalf of human rights.
The pitfalls of cultural memory and forgetting, understood through the genealogy of the phenomenon called déjà vu
This provocative book examines the history of déjà vu, offers a counterpoint to clichéd celebrations of cultural memory and forces us do a double take on the warnings against forgetting common in our time. Reaching from the early texts of Sigmund Freud to the plays of Heiner Müller, this exploration of the effects of déjà vu pivots around the work of Walter Benjamin.
Off the Network is a fresh and authoritative examination of how the hidden logic of the Internet, social media, and the digital network is changing users’ understanding of the world—and why that should worry us. Ulises Ali Mejias suggests how we might begin to rethink the logic of the network and question its ascendancy.
In her thought-provoking new book, José van Dijck has undertaken a formidable task. Unlike most theorists of memory, who work either with cognitive or with cultural models, she argues that to understand memory in the digital age requires an approach with draws from both neuroscientific and cultural research. In the first chapter she lays out her approach, which she distinguishes from Marita Sturken’s and my own; instead of considering the ways in which cultural memories affect the individual, Dijck’s analysis moves in the other direction “privileging private memory objects.” And while she admits, following Maurice Halbwachs, that “personal memory can only exist in relation to collective memory,” she insists on the primacy of the personal: “The sum of individual memories never equals collectivity” (25). For Dijck, memories might be technologically mediated, but are still profoundly personal. And yet, rather than assuming that something like “pure” or “authentic” memory exists and is then mediated by technologies of memory, she imagines a dialectical relationship where “media and memory transform each other” (21). And to get at this dynamic relationship she has coined the phrase “mediated memories,” which she defines as “the activities and objects we produce and appropriate by means of media technology for creating and re-creating a sense of past, present, and future of ourselves in relation to others” (21). While these memories are personal, they are nevertheless instrumental in translating ourselves to others. Dijck, in other words, is interested in the way in which autobiographical memory both shapes and is shaped by technology. In this book she attempts to reject a simple technological determinism, advocating instead a model which recognizes the interpenetration of cognitive structures and technological developments. (…)
Delete looks at the surprising phenomenon of perfect remembering in the digital age, and reveals why we must reintroduce our capacity to forget. Digital technology empowers us as never before, yet it has unforeseen consequences as well. Potentially humiliating content on Facebook is enshrined in cyberspace for future employers to see. Google remembers everything we’ve searched for and when. The digital realm remembers what is sometimes better forgotten, and this has profound implications for us all.
In Delete, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger traces the important role that forgetting has played throughout human history, from the ability to make sound decisions unencumbered by the past to the possibility of second chances. The written word made it possible for humans to remember across generations and time, yet now digital technology and global networks are overriding our natural ability to forget–the past is ever present, ready to be called up at the click of a mouse. Mayer-Schönberger examines the technology that’s facilitating the end of forgetting–digitization, cheap storage and easy retrieval, global access, and increasingly powerful software–and describes the dangers of everlasting digital memory, whether it’s outdated information taken out of context or compromising photos the Web won’t let us forget. He explains why information privacy rights and other fixes can’t help us, and proposes an ingeniously simple solution–expiration dates on information–that may.
Delete is an eye-opening book that will help us remember how to forget in the digital age.
Arguing that today’s viewers move through a character’s brain instead of looking through his or her eyes or mental landscape, this book approaches twenty-first-century globalized cinema through the concept of the «neuro-image.» Pisters explains why this concept has emerged now, and she elaborates its threefold nature through research from three domains—Deleuzian (schizoanalytic) philosophy, digital networked screen culture, and neuroscientific research. These domains return in the book’s tripartite structure. Part One, on the brain as «neuroscreen,» suggests rich connections between film theory, mental illness, and cognitive neuroscience. Part Two explores neuro-images from a philosophical perspective, paying close attention to their ontological, epistemological, and aesthetic dimensions. Political and ethical aspects of the neuro-image are discussed in Part Three. Topics covered along the way include the omnipresence of surveillance, the blurring of the false and the real and the affective powers of the neo-baroque, and the use of neuro-images in politics, historical memory, and war.
The good news, as reported in Scientific American Mind, is that you can. Attempting not to think about something can notoriously have the opposite effect – the «don’t think of a white bear!» problem – but research showssuppression gets better with practice and substituting a thought with another thought can work well, too. Intriguingly, those who are best at deliberate forgetting are those who are also best at remembering things. (People with ADHD are worse at it.) A sharp and healthy mind is one that can remember and forget. Distracting yourself is another technique that gets a bad rap but that can be similarly effective: in one study, having to press a button each time a word-cue appeared led to as much forgetting as deliberately trying to block it. «Action interferes with recollection,» as one researcher put it. Want to forget your screw-up at work today? Cook a complex dinner tonight.
As a society, argues internet scholar Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, we’re getting worse at forgetting, thanks to the web: Amazon, Google and Facebook remember everything you use them for, for ever. In his book Delete, he calls for legal efforts to change the default, so that unless you choose otherwise, your online activities will eventually slip into the memory hole. It’ll never happen. But it’s a welcome intervention in the polarised debate between advocates of privacy and publicness. Perhaps «living in public» in the digital era would be less unsettling if we could trust that the web – like an optimally functioning human mind, rather than one with a disorder such as Price’s – might eventually also forget.