Forgetting and the Digital Age

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, associate professor and director of the Information and Innovation Policy Research Center at National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy discusses his new book Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age.


Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

Comments [13]

Kitty from a midwestern university

The story is "Funes, the Memorious" by Borges.

This is the kind of segment that makes this show one of the most thoughtful & interesting ones around.

Oct. 06 2009 10:01 PM

Just the surface of what I'm talking about; the industry may or may not be involved in this kind of viral marketing on the Internet--but you can bet they are _well aware_ of every single aspect of it:

"Tobacco companies using social networking to target young",28348,26175186-5014239,00.htm

Oct. 06 2009 01:03 PM
Warren Lebeau from Sunnyside

This is silly. This esteemed guest is confusing "information" with "memory". There are always varying points of view to the same event (three sides to ever story yours mine and the truth) and just because you store information on a computer we will be storing multiple versions of the same memories. This is nothing new we've been doing it for ages in different ways now we're just doing it with more organization and which results in easier access (thanks google ... check their mission).

The experience is your own experience but digital memory is mediated and not the memory or the forgetting. Using digital memory is for documentation not for memory they are two very different things.

Oct. 06 2009 12:11 PM

Your guests seem incredibly naive. They just plain have no idea what's really going on.

EVERYTHING--people, subjects, brands-- is being closely tracked by vested interests.

There are outfits that track, for a price, every mention of your company anyplace on the Internet. AND they can roughly guess the tone of the comment by tracking key words, such as loathe, hate, love, etc. The companies can sort and filter in any number of powerful, astounding ways.

Of course, many companies have "viral" teams out there, making apparently-independent "corrections."

Yes, even here, at WNYC's board--which is why I'm mentioning no names or industries . . .

Oct. 06 2009 12:05 PM
brad from crown heights

There is still a difference between memory, the record of information, and memory the act of recalling that information.

It seems like the digital revolution is more in the recall area; that we can now find out information which previously might have been recorded and available (public legal records, letters stuffed in a shoebox) but was not easily accessible.

To what degree does the guest think this ease of access (methodologically identical to the electronic access to our own 'memory' as he describes it) blurs the boundaries between these external records or facts and our own, instantly accessible internal memory- our memory not simply becoming more _durable_ but also more wide-ranging.

Oct. 06 2009 12:00 PM
Michael Opalenski

What was the name of the Argentinian Short story he mentioned?

Oct. 06 2009 11:59 AM
Caitlin from Jersey City

Just about everyone on facebook seems to have at least one embarassing drunken college photo in their profile (I know I do). I'm curious to see how this will start effecting politics in the next few decads, as more people who have their whole lives recorded for all to see start running for office.

Oct. 06 2009 11:58 AM
J Reilly from Bellmore, LI

In his book, does your guest mention the sites like facebook which encourage us to have them "remember me", but dont?

Oct. 06 2009 11:57 AM
Brian C from Brooklyn

What about the shear volume of digital information that is continually stored? Does that not serve to obscure much like forgetting?

Oct. 06 2009 11:52 AM
peterb from

wow brian; how can things be so wrong; but oh so right?; left?; i love it; who likes dick or newt anyway?

Oct. 06 2009 11:52 AM
stephen from prospect heights

As a librarian, I more concerned with the Orwellian aspects of the digital (amazon recently removed a text from folks kindles without notification) as well as the loss of what Walter Benjamin termed as aura, which is the essence embedded in uniqueness.

Oct. 06 2009 11:51 AM
Hesch, mobility impaired from Knickerbocker in the Lower East Side

A more ancient (? therefore not 'pop) culture reference, from Golden Age (1930s & '40s & '50s) science fiction, and some more recent:

memory wipe, memory storage, memory expansion devices as plot devices

and, Johnny Mnemonic (1995) -- Keanu Reeves plays a data courier, carrying a data package literally in his head.

Oct. 06 2009 11:07 AM
Hesch, mobility impaired from Knickerbocker in the Lower East Side

A recent pop-culture reference:

Dumbledore (of the Harry Potter series) stored his excess, and particularly his painful, memories 'offline', a practice made more pragmatic by the ability to retrieve and re-store them.

Oct. 06 2009 10:56 AM

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