Home » Memory » Better to forget, or better to remember?

Better to forget, or better to remember?

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In a series of posts I ask what are the possibilities afforded by our technological capacity to digitize a substantial part of our daily lives. This gadget enabled data harvesting may be automatic or manual, continual or spontaneous. We see it in galleries of photos and grabs, video clips, podcasts and text – expressions of our externalization of our thoughts, desires and interests. Included are biometrics. We wear kit to record our vital signs and become a lifelong patient and test subject.

  • Who and what are we?
  • What makes us tick?
  • What can we improve, enhance, support or fix?
  • What do we do with this record?
  • What purpose might it serve?
  • What problems may it solve or cause ?

Two books are at heart of the start of this journey.

I read them first time through side by side, so they might have been interleaved – one as an eBook on Kindle, iBook and laptop, the other in hardback taking pencil written notes, as well as grabs as tags with a smartphone. 8000 words and a dozen or more images make my first thoughts. Already there are a plethora of further books and papers to read relating to computer science and web science, psychology, neuroscience, creativity, innovation and law.

The books are:

Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmel  (2009)  Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger (2009) Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

Jonathan started his first diary when he was 11, then took it up in earnest age 13 ¼. He’s been blogging since September 1999.

  • What is the value of knowing how I felt, who I was with and what I did and what I was thinking on many of these thousands of days?
  • How does it inform my understanding of the human condition?
  • What remains private and what should I expose or share?
  • Who cares?


With the birth of my children I looked at them and have been asking for the last 16+ years ‘what is going on in there?’ yet I still don’t yet understand my own brain. ‘My mind bursts’ is now a decade long inquiry which is shifting from the coffee table to the classroom. Join me here, in your own blog, in forums and webinars.

Jonathan Vernon has an BA from the University of Oxford, and is a graduate of London’s School of Communication Arts. He has just completed an MA in Open and Distance Education with the Open University. His career has been spent in video production, learning and development, linear, interactive, experiential and online learning with experience of the creative industries, competitive sports – teaching and coaching (swimming), retail, manufacturing and the health services. He started the Open University Module H809 : Practice-based research in educational technologyy on 2nd February 2013 with the goal to begin a three to four year doctoral research project in October. He is also taking part in the OLDs MOOC 2013.

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