A trip down memory lane: The digitalisation of our age

I am currently working on a project for my Digital Libraries class. We are creating our own digital library from bits and pieces that we have access too. One of the specifications for this assignment is that we are not allowed to use copyrighted items. As a result of this I have decided to create a Post-it library. The idea behind this is to create a collection of Post-its which illustrate the life of modern day students (if anyone has any photos of Post-its they wish to donate feel free to tweet me at @mariabbutler).

The reason I chose this collection was because I had a huge collection of Post-its when I was in first year of college. We had a wall in our sitting room dedicated to them. They covered everything from jokes to pictures to stupid quotes that our friends said. It was the focal point of our room and the first thing that visitors did on arrival in our flat was head straight to the wall to see what was written there. Hours of enjoyment ensued.

As I am home in my parents house this weekend I have spent the entire morning trying to unearth them, so far to no avail. I have however, stumbled across all manner of ephemeral items ( I think I may be a hoarder). Amongst these items I have found approximately ten years of diaries (some of which I didn’t even know I had written), mounds of letters, and lists of books that I read as a teenager.

This has led me to reflect on the digitalistaion of our age. Even when I was a teenager letter writing wasn’t very common. It had for the large part been taken over by text messaging, email and, in my latter teen years, Bebo. I am lucky however, as the fact that I spent every summer from the age of eleven in Irish college means that  I was disconnected from technology and my only means of correspondence with the outside world was in paper. Thus I have a collection of letters at my disposal to remind me of my teenage years.

This is opposed to the thousands of text messages I have sent and received throughout my life time which have disappeared through the loss of phones, overwriting and the general inability to store them (although in first year we did sometimes copy out text messages onto post-its).

In Digital Libraries we are learning about the use of technology to preserve items. This is not always the case as my suitcase of mementos testifies. Firstly, as with text messages it is not always possible to preserve certain digital items. Secondly, even if the item is preserved you need to know :

a. that it existed (as with some of my diaries);

b. where to locate them.

This is not always the case with diaries, letters and photos. If they have a physical form you will eventually re-discover them while you are looking for something else. The physical realm of a building is infinitely smaller than the digital realm. In the digital realm you can know what you’re looking for and sometimes you still can’t find it if you use the wrong keywords. We all have experience of spending hours looking for a website you once liked but not finding it because you couldn’t remember what it was called.

This brings me to blogging. Blogging is a valuable pastime, especially in relation to the dissemination of knowledge. However, if you wish to blog your private thoughts in diary form you must locate your diary in a place that non of your peers will discover. I have found that in doing so you are making it very difficult to find it yourself in later years I have lost a large chunk of my life because I cannot remember my old user name or what email account I used to activate it.

Thus, I am saying yes certainly, blog, text, and email but also don’t forget to write things down on paper because in years to come you could be looking for an set of Post-its in your room and find a mountain of information you had completely forgotten about prompting a nostalgic (and sometimes cringe worthy) trip down memory lane.

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