When We Are No More

When We Are No More

How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future

Book - 2016
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Baker & Taylor
Examines the potential of today's powerful information technologies for retaining the stories, ideas and innovations of a collective human memory, tracing memory from the entire length of human civilization to weight the challenges of abundant information and limited human capacity.

McMillan Palgrave

Our memory gives the human species a unique evolutionary advantage. Our stories, ideas, and innovations--in a word, our "culture"--can be recorded and passed on to future generations. Our enduring culture and restless curiosity have enabled us to invent powerful information technologies that give us invaluable perspective on our past and define our future. Today, we stand at the very edge of a vast, uncharted digital landscape, where our collective memory is stored in ephemeral bits and bytes and lives in air-conditioned server rooms. What sources will historians turn to in 100, let alone 1,000 years to understand our own time if all of our memory lives in digital codes that may no longer be decipherable?

In When We Are No More Abby Smith Rumsey explores human memory from pre-history to the present to shed light on the grand challenge facing our world--the abundance of information and scarcity of human attention. Tracing the story from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls, to movable type, books, and the birth of the Library of Congress, Rumsey weaves a compelling narrative that explores how humans have dealt with the problem of too much information throughout our history, and indeed how we might begin solve the same problem for our digital future. Serving as a call to consciousness, When We Are No More explains why data storage is not memory; why forgetting is the first step towards remembering; and above all, why memory is about the future, not the past.

"If we're thinking 1,000 years, 3,000 years ahead in the future, we have to ask ourselves, how do we preserve all the bits that we need in order to correctly interpret the digital objects we create? We are nonchalantly throwing all of our data into what could become an information black hole without realizing it." --Vint Cerf, Chief Evangelist at Google, at a press conference in February, 2015.

What is the future of the forty-thousand year old project of human memory?

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Press, 2016
ISBN: 9781620408025
Branch Call Number: 025 R869w
Characteristics: 229 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), portraits (some color) ; 25 cm


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Oct 02, 2016

Highly recommend this book if you want to begin to formulate a thought process on where will all this information (we are collecting in the digital age) take us. What do we do with all the redundant sources of information and how do we resolve issues like version control, and context objectification in the interpretation of all that information? Thought control has always been firmly under the control of those who control the knowledge base. What happens when all that information becomes widely distributed? Will the world of ideas shrink or grow endlessly as we attempt to harness all the information under the control of the dominant search engines?
Great book, well written, some great questions for us to ponder as the technology matures.


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