Virtual Traveling, and the New Era of Memory

It’s funny, but one of my former students, graduated this may, has been traveling Europe and keeping a travel blog. He’s going for 11 months, and doing it the uber-cheap way: couch surfing. And blogging about the experience with tons of pictures along the way.

And I’ve gotta say, it’s become addictive reading. I mean, to see the insides of people’s houses all over southern France (which is where he is now, he just finished working his way up through Italy). But also the nights when he can’t find lodging and ends up camping. I dunno, I’ve been holed up in my apt the last few weeks furiously trying to get my damn manifesto-manuscript done, and it’s been pretty cool to do some vicarious traveling.

Of course, it’s not as much fun when you don’t know the person, but I find that whenever I want to travel somewhere, I just find a travel blog and get the inside scoop on the place. Of course, it never turns out the same for you once you get there, nor should it! But it’s so much better than the stuff you read in professional guides.

But it’s also funny to think about how virtual traveling of this sort is something completely new, a product of the age of the internet. And it also leads me to think about how maybe next time I travel, would be fun to do something like this. Because the best things when you travel are the little things. A cool cafe. The most amazing lunch. A great view. And of course, you can snap a photo, but now it’s so easy to really capture the visual and the words to go with it, in a nice easy package. And that way, you save your memories for real for later, and you yourself can relive your own trip later on. I mean, I forget tons of shit. This would be a cool way to preserve this.

It also makes me think about how cool it’ll be, say, in thirty years. For the person, their kids, etc. I mean, we live in a new era of memory. I remember when we were growing up, the advent of the VCR camera was a new thing. We had endless fun seeing ourselves on TV. And now we have records of what it looked like, and full of the ‘optical unconscious’ (Benjamin’s term) that only mechanical reproduction can provide. I mean, to see my mom with her early 80’s hairdo, not in some static photo, but moving, talking.

But even those video cameras pale in comparison to what we have today. Can you imagine what it will be like for the new generation? To grow up with every moment of your life documented, in unimaginably high quality? I mean, today we still wonder what 80 year olds were like when they were little. But the 80 year olds of tomorrow will be able to just call up a computer file, and we will be able to see them in all their gleaming color.

And it will likely make age truly uncanny, even moreso than today with photographs. Can you imagine seeing your whole life in HD? Craziness.

It’s the new era of memory.







~ by chris on January 11, 2011.

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