Memory & Loss & Freedom in the digital universe


So I lost 500 GB the other day. I thought it would hurt more.
I thought losing all that stuff would shoot a hole in my heart, but it didn't. I felt relief.  
And then the strangest thing happened. I felt ashamed, because I was not worried enough.

I'm obviously still trying to get all that music and movies back, there's the whole Ellington collection in there, but somewhere, behind the hardware rescue efforts, is this unexpected thing, this calm sense of belonging to the network. Let me tell you something, music is overrated. It's everywhere, and most of it now is worth at least one listen. No shortage there. With the movies is not as good, but that's temporary because they keep increasing the bandwidth anyway. Check this out. And then there's streaming. So it was like, whatever.



Like children safely playing out in the park at dusk, we know that this media stuff, music and movies, is always there, in the network. We just pull it when it's time. So why have boxes full of files and files and always worry about them, defragment, backup, move them to another box? Because of the pictures, that's the most common answer. We need our own private boxes to keep most of the important pictures, and videos, the ones not up on the book. 

But your argument is invalid because you connect those boxes to networked computers which most of the time are doing things that you can't even spell the names of, so what's privacy anyway?

Privacy is a shared illusion and you should book, tweet, gram, or drive every digital thing you generate and just choose one of these companies like you choose your bank, or your hospital, or your kid's school. Because that's what they are, the keepers of our memories. 
They bear gifts for the future.

Privacy is standing in the way of our emancipation from material loss. Just like ownership is standing in the way of our emancipation from ownership and our glorious ascent towards universal access to every product and service in this time of mysterious plenty.

Listen very carefully to what Kevin Kelly has to say:




Freedom is what happens when the boxes and the wires disappear, and we no longer care about losing "our" stuff. Nothing ever gets lost. Our things are part of every thing, of the one machine. Every networked laughter, all the still moments are here, one short pull away, the user interface is brilliant. Our freedom is invisible.


So we won.
Not really. Kelly and his friends need to eat, too, so they're not keeping any secrets from the marketing department. We still need to take this transformation and turn it into a movie, our movie - which here could be shorthand for movement, but it's not - and we need to make it real emotional and generational and continental. 

But who's gonna shoot it? Or write it? Our keepers may well be the caring and mighty guardians of our digital childhood, but eventually, and fast, we'll grow up and realize that adults are just as clueless about the greater mysteries of life as the rest of us, and that this emergent black swan type of tendency that human history seems to possess will keep messing up their business plans and thus interfere with the company's vested interest in at least some kind of economic exploitation of our individual and collective memories.

So who? Gibson retired. Doctorow is a Doctor, Sterling should stay in Belgrade, and Schell is too wise to be, or play, the prophet. Bridle? I don't think so.

The Mozilla crew is good, but at this point they're like a smiling Nobel Peace Prize collective acceptance speech, you can't go into the jungle with that. You, dear reader, need some exceptionally good screenwriting. You might also need some serious twenty-first century coping mechanisms because this memory thing is no joke. Yes, there was relief, I felt liberated from the HardDrive, and it was real good, but there was also the child-like naiveté, and that's also good in a way, but it's way too irresponsible for the policy level or even just for the grassroots community level, the subculture, or even the ninety-nine Cairo to Montreal type of conversation. And the previous ops manual is no good either. So what.

So, Strange Days, which everybody kind of always knew was good, is getting better.

Get it. or, Pull it.