The Digital Human is an intriguing new radio series and podcast from Dr Aleks Krotoski, dealing with the way that technology is changing the way that we live our lives. The first episode looks at digital photography and asks whether the ubiquity of cheap cameras and unlimited online storage will affect that the way that we remember events in the future.
We are never entirely sure whether the memories that we have are in fact true records of events or if they are selective constructs, pieced together from fragmentary stories. I have a strong memory of one of my early birthday parties, held in my Grandma’s back garden, with an old table being placed on the lawn and a steam train cake made from a swiss roll. I was never entirely confident of my recollection until I saw some old photos taken by my late uncle, one of which was of that day. The two images – the cake and the table – now have a wider context, although still a limited one, in a single, faded picture.
Another point considered is the nature of the pictures that we take. The early years of photography saw Victorian families in rigid, formal poses. The sixties saw snapshots from cheap cameras, although they would still be limited to 12 or 24 shots. Now, we can take unlimited shots but we are more likely to curate them by discarding anything that doesn’t fit the image of ourselves that we want to broadcast to the world. Would we be happy with a continuous stream of what we see being uploaded to the web in real time? The technology already exists to do things like this, not forgetting of course the thousands of CCTV cameras that are capturing our image every day, whether we like it or not.
Thought provoking stuff, and well worth a listen.