This is a thoughtful essay on impermanence and memory. The impermanence of the life experiences we have, both personally and related to us by our families and friends, and the ways in which we remember them, including audio and visual recording, photographs, collected memorabilia, that old baseball glove, the ski parka you had at age 12, the bronzed baby shoe, the list goes on and one. Digital pundits have been talking about these issues ever since we started recording on floppies and hard disks. Many of the early discussions centered around the format of recordings, would we always have AVI or WMV or MP3 formats, would we be able to read them in 50 years, 100 years, or would their technology be obsolete. Along with that would come a discussion of the limited lifespan of digital and optical media, even if we could read the formats of the recordings we'd kept, would the recordings still be there?
The author extends these discussions in several ways, detailing ways we can record our lives online by contributing to social sites such as Facebook (will Facebook even be around in 50 years?), using a GPS based system to keep track of everywhere we go, another app to keep track of the music we listen to, the movies we watch, another one to record the weather we experience every day. We can now do 3D records and recreations of the people we know, the objects we treasure, what will we come up with next?
But for me the most telling vignette is his telling of looking through 200 photos left by his grandfather in an old suitcase. Those photos told a story of his grandfather that he'd never known. And he contrasts the impact of those 200 photos with the ~ 200,000 photos that he expects to leave behind. It seems that the more we leave behind, the less meaning there is per momento. Maybe we should concentrate on a few well chosen momentos, rather than a hopelessly large collage.