Today, I am sitting in my cold office, editing the papers presented at the 3rd and 4th annual Inter-Disciplinary.Net Digital Memories conferences for inclusion in a hardcopy book. I am finding it hard going. Media studies (where I would position most of the research reported on in these papers) seems to employ highly-convoluted language filled with neologisms and sensitive nuances of expression which, if incorrectly used, misrepresent the view of the author in unforgivable ways. It is tiring but, I suppose, it is good experience.
An emerging theme of the book (and my sense is that it is emerging not because of its inherent force but because I want it to) is the way that the digital mediation of memory can influence our experience of, and connection to, past events (either personal or cultural/shared). These papers reinforce the idea that media and design strongly influence our perception of the content they carry and, therefore, the meaning we take from our interaction with technology.
Another interesting theme is that digital artefacts change the locus of control over personal and cultural historical narratives. For example, in relation to public events, social networking sites allow alternative, and potentially subversive, channels of mass communication. In relation to personal memory, they allow others to duplicate and proliferate images of us across ambiguous, and potentially global, audiences.
Finally, there is a sense of potential creativity for using the flexibility of digital structures to explore memory-related data contained in photos, micro-blogging content, etc. Such creativity provides a way to re-engage with digital memory artefacts in the face of saturation (i.e. information overload) and detachment (i.e. loss of the sense of ownership).
And, with that, I should get back to the work of editing.