Wednesday, February 8, 2006


I'm already looking forward to participating in the Designing for Collective Remembering Workshop at CHI 2006 in Montreal in April. (Say hello if you see me!) And I'm happy that in the paper I submitted, I finally got to take a closer look at my forgetting machine.

Collective remembering and the importance of forgetting: a critical design challenge (pdf)

This paper takes the position that if the goal is to better understand designing for collective remembering, we cannot afford to overlook the importance of forgetting. Memories are understood as relations of power through which we, as individuals and groups, actively negotiate and decide what can be recollected and what can be forgotten. And without being able to decide what we can remember and forget, we are effectively left without hope of becoming different people or creating different worlds. Furthermore, these choices and decision-making processes not only relate to content generation or what data gets remembered (stored, displayed, etc.) in any given application, but they are always already embedded in our research and design cultures and practices. Ultimately, this paper argues for creating and supporting assemblies for deciding collective actions on collective matters-of-concern.


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Blogger Phil said...

Change implies forgetting - this is a fascinating insight, although I'm not sure whether I think it's valid! (Isn't it more a matter of being able to control whether past choices are world-readable?) You might look at Sartre - there's some stuff about being oppressed by the cumulative burden of one's own past in the first chapter of Being and nothingness (I know it was the first chapter, because that was as far as I got).

Blogger Anne said...

Thanks M :)

Phil - I'm familiar with Sartre's thoughts on memory, but I'm afraid I don't understand your comment about validity. Valid for what? According to which criteria? Are you suggesting that we need not forget, only restrict who gets access to particular memories?

Anonymous mo said...

I enjoyed reading that short thoughtfull paper on memory and some aspects of necessity and importance of forgetting.
The Augé quotes are close to N.Klein's general aspects in 'The History of Forgetting' - which delivers - by taking exemplarily Los Angeles and its specific situation - a view on how 'forgetting' forms and stimulates memory as a fictional source.
My comment might not totally relate to your writing, but I thought Klein an interesting (associating) supplement as he is working on the already shaped .. the hard to grasp change emerging around us and thus the constant rebuilding of our memory.

Anonymous Francois Lachance said...


It struck me that Ricoeur's distinction between "visee" and "souvenir" is not quite as dichotomous as it appears in how it is marshalled in your paper. I think the relation between the activities of remembering and forgetting might benefit from a translation into foregrounding and backgrounding; less what the objects of these moves are and more where the objects are. I am inspired by Michael Polyani's "focal and subsidiary awareness" from _Personal Knowledge_. To that end, you may wish to consider the machine model of CPU plus memory plus storage. It may serve your purposes to distinguish between memory and storage. Memory can be stylized a staging area [I like to imagine it as a theatre in the round.] and storage can be viewed as an offstage zone. With a theatre and slate metaphor one can imagine ovelaps between say clock space and calendar space. The notion of staging combined with that of scheduling then leads nicely to the assemblies of your conclusion. The machine model does allow for the research to distinguish between holding in memory, storing and recall. Helps position the assemblies not only as groupings of actants but also as sites of activity.

Blogger bev trayner said...

Thanks for you paper Anne. We have included it on our reading list in a dialogue we will be having in Prato (Italy) on Remembering and Forgetting.

Blog post with more info here.


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