Can smarty objects transfer the agency of memory storage away from the person and instead, in an automated process of continual information capture and storage, provide a new memory repository that supports, relieves and occasionally replaces natural memory?
Draaisma (2000) provides us with a metaphor of memory as objects, referring to memories as a‘store of precious items’. Like objects they too have a lifetime, part of a persons own cradle to grave cycle, where death erases memory in but a moment. The advancement of technology has assisted us in ‘arming ourselves against the transience implicit in the mortality of memory by developing artificial memories’ (Daaisma 2000). The development of writing surfaces, from clay or wax tablets, to parchment and vellum, and later on paper, provided the oldest of memory aids, not only accommodating natural language but also drawings of all kinds. Photography allowed for images to be directly recorded and the invention of cinematography meant moving images could also be captured. The preservation of sound became a reality through Edison’s phonograph, and now a days numerous ‘artificial’ memories from MP3, DVD and computer memories are available to record what the eye and ear take in. ‘Image and sound are transportable in space and time, they are repeatable, reproducible, on a scale that seem inconceivable a century ago… our views of the operation of memory are fuelled by the procedures and techniques we have invented for the preservation and reproduction of information (Draaisma 2000).
However the Internet of Things not only has the capacity to serve as an interface for human memory storage, it can store the memory of the object itself. Sterling (2005) terms these objects Spimes, made possible through the convergence of emerging technologies, related to both the manufacturing process for consumer goods, and through identification and location technologies. Technologies that allow us track the entire existence of an object, from before it was made (its virtual representation), through its manufacture, its ownership history, its physical location, until its eventual obsolescence and breaking-down back into raw material to be used for new instantiations of objects. These objects when recorded can be archived and searched for, as databases of specific item/location/relationship information which track the lifetime of an object through space and time are generated.
Draaisma, Douwe (2000) Metaphors of Memory, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Sterling, Bruce (2005) Shaping Things, Cambridge: MIT Press