Saturday, October 25, 2008

Do You Remember When You Actually Had To Remember?

By Darryl Mason

For whatever reason, the stories in the list of links (a couple of paragraphs) below captured my attention for a minute or a few hours, and I managed to push away the niggling ache to immediately write something about them at the time, taking comfort in the fact I could always come back to them later. But then of course, the mind and blog moved on to something else and they were left in the 2nd memory, floating around in digital drafts. Forgotten, but easily accessible, a far simpler retrieval than wading through paper files, or stumbling the long halls of physical human memory opening door after door and not finding the details you were absolutely sure you had left there, somewhere.

As the onslaught of news, and the fast rise and quick death of a breaking news story, only continues to ramp up in intensity, with the most minor of scandals elevated to 'My God, This Can't Be Happening!!!' status to feed the constant hunger of online front pages for stories that will win clicks and eyeballs, even two month old news, let alone last year's, quickly gets forgotten.

Even the biggest of stories don't seem to linger long anymore. It's very strange to see how abruptly something that seems mind-boggling, shocking, utterly scandalous, monumentally reality-changing disappears, never to be heard from again. Or not for a while.

The current merging of financial democracy and capitalist communism hogs the headlines because it is still unfolding, and because the story near daily reaches into the pockets of almost everybody to shake out another $20, or $100, as basic food prices rise to 'What The Fuck?' levels and stock markets faceplant in the loose gravel of the free market.

Perhaps it's just me, but this list of old headlines, from blog posts never written, or never completed, from a couple of years ago up to last month, tell a faster, quicker story of a country undergoing sweeping change, and the rising toll of emotionally-impacting events, than....nope, lost that thought. When I can remember online everything I'm thinking, that won't happen. I can just go into the online 2nd memory and think it back again. It was something about how events that seem to suddenly just happen in the media have actually been in the news for a while, while other events, perhaps more minor, but eventually far more important, are quickly forgotten. So here are those headlines :

June 30, 2006 : 'Police State Australia' Becomes Reality - Downloaded Documents Can Score You 15 Years In Jail

November 16, 2006 : John Howard Admits His Beloved "Low Interest Rates" Led To Australians Amassing Record, Crippling Levels Of Debt

October 8, 2007 : It's Only Terrorism When Muslims Want To Blow Stuff Up : Leader Of Christian Group That Advocates Destruction Of Mosques & Casinos Meets Peter Costello To "Prepare" Him To Become Prime Minister

February, 2007 : David Hicks Shown Images Of Saddam's Hussein's Execution For Mental "Stimulation"

October 11, 2007 : First Australian Soldier Dies In Iraq - Brendan Nelson Doesn't Wait For Proof, Says Bomb "May" Have Come From Iran

October 12, 2007 : Howard's Version Of Australian History Deletes Cyclone Tracy, Death Of Ned Kelly, Anti-Aboriginal Laws That Led To Stolen Generations, British Live Testing Of Atomic Bombs On Australians, Decriminalisation Of Homosexuality

October, 2007 : Police Seek Power To Spy Without Warrants For Months, Want To Spray Radioactive Material On People So They Can Be Tracked Remotely

November 13, 2007 : Police Were Told To "Test" New Anti-Terror Laws By Arresting As Many People As Possible And Charging Them With Terrorism

January 7, 2008 : Conservative Hero Admits Publishing LSD Formula & 'Try It Now' Propaganda Written By Suspected CIA Agent In University Newspaper, Now Thinks It's "Funny" LSD Helped Fracture Powerful Anti-War Movement

February, 2008 : UN Troops Left Assassin-Shot East Timor President Lying In Road "For More Than Half An Hour"

February 3, 2008 : The Howard Legacy - 300,000 Australians Expected To Lose Their Homes As Toxic Debts Mount

March, 2008 : APEC 'Police State' Laws Will Become Permanent Powers For Police In Future "Special Events"

March, 2008 : Treasury Secretary Ken Henry Demands "Water Market" Be Established, Warns Of "Water Rage", "Human Casualties"

May 27, 2008 : This Pisshead Nation Costs $15 Billion A Year

September 21, 2008 : The ADHD Generation - Thousands Of Australian Children Daily Fed Mind-Altering Drugs For No Reason

Blogging seems to have become a 2nd memory, and in a growing number of very helpful ways, perhaps even a far superior memory, where information, ideas, chunks of news, can be stored, for later review, or just as drafts of things perhaps worth remembering, but not utterly essential for daily life.

The human memory keeps the essential phone numbers, the details of the daily rituals of working, eating, occasionally sleeping, the names that must be always remembered (partner, parents, close friends) in order to counter social exclusion.

But the 2nd memory, the online memory, can accurately store everything else you think you may need to remember later. Or simply wish to revisit. Ten thousand news articles, reams of notes, video, audio, 100 of libraries worth of information and history, all can be stored for free, in your online 2nd memory. Two years ago, the online 2nd memory was easy enough to access by laptop, with all files totally searchable through a keyboard. Today, access is even easier through a phone, almost anywhere, and keyboards are being replaced by voice recognition or simple scrolling and point-clicks.

Soon enough something as small as an ear-ring, if you have a palpable fear of small circuit boards being embedded into your skull or scalp, will let you access your online 2nd memory, as easily as you now pull up details from your flesh bag brain. When the human mind is permanently connected to the digital reality, you will find what you need by thought. You will be able to brain google the net, obviously, but searching your own (2nd) memory will become an invaluable addition to the processes of the human mind.

In many ways, the online 2nd memory is already far superior to the real one. You can already store every photo or video you image of your life, with sound. Every letter of anything you type on a keyboard can already be stored for you, for instant access later, or for searching (the digital version of "I remember when...") when needed. You will be able to watch all that imagery back, images far more crisp and vivid than the old mind movies the memory can conjure up, far more accurate recollections of past events, more real, through the same .

Human memory will not be able to compete, though it's sometimes lurid and distorted recall, basic creativity, will always be needed, if only for entertainment reasons.

I have no idea how I got onto all this, and so it ends. Hell, it's the weekend.