Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Cyber Trails

Our descendants ... will have at their fingertips a deep digital archive of information that we created ourselves. - "What happens after your final status update?", Adam Ostrow,(CNN)

Video killed the radio star.
Video killed the radio star.
In my mind and in my car
We can't rewind we've gone to far
Oh-a-aho oh
Oh-a-aho oh - From "Video Killed the Radio Star", The Buggles 1979

My brother still has his FaceBook page. He died last January. He was 61.

It somehow comforts me that his FaceBook page exists. A legacy.

I've long pondered the effect of modern technology on our access to the memories of things past. Take my kids for example.

They were born in the early to mid-seventies. I have photos of them, but no videos, no webpages, no digital footprints of their early lives. I don't even have the sound of their voices on tape, let alone on video or CD. Just a few photos, developed from film. And yes I've scanned them in, but as they were not digitally recorded at the time, the number of them in no way compares to the hundreds of photos digitized by the modern day cameras, of babies today.

And my own childhood. Was there even color?

I have to smile, remembering my daughter when she was about eight. She'd been watching some old movies on the TV. In black and white. A few days later she asked me, "What was it like, Mum, living in the world when everything was black and white?"

Girl With Wire Pram, 1947
 Yeah, what was it like? I actually remember my childhood as being in black and white. I wonder. Is that because the photos of me as a child were all in black and white. Are my early childhood memories only memories of memories of photos. Or was it that the fifties and early sixties of last century were in fact, monochromatic?


Before me. Before my mother. Before my grandmother. There were not even photos. Those ancestors could leave us very little. All I have of "Juliffs" going back 10 generations, are transcribed passages from Last Will and Testaments. Signed with thumbprints apparently!

"And my further desire is that my wife Margery Juleff (sic) may live with her children for the space of one year after my decease, and if they cannot agree and be comfortable, my last request is that she should depart and leave them to themselves." Signed William Julleff's mark 1832

No one can say we Juliffs aren't an accommodating lot ...

But that being so - all that is left of my ancestor Will, apart from a gravestone somewhere in Cornwell, is his last Will and Testament. We don't know what he looked like, we don't know his likes, his dislikes. We certainly don't know what filmstar he would have been had he been a filmstar. Nope, old Will wasn't on FaceBook and there was no 19th century equivalent.

And so, when I think, which I do every day, of my brother Tim, I say a secret unconscious, unacknowledged, unspoken thank you, to Mr Mark Zuckerberg and his ilk.

"What happens after your final status update?", asks CNN's Adam Ostrow.

What was my brother's last, his final update? I logged on to Tim's FaceBook. There was something there about a street in Melbourne being flooded. Not an update really. More a Wall posting of a news item from the Melbourne Age. So I scrolled back. And back. And then I came to it.

Pure Tim.

Someone had wished all her FaceBook friends, "Happy Easter!"

"Not so happy for Jesus," he'd "statused".

Well said, Tim!

Well remembered.

Sorely missed!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the cyber trail will last? Who are the keepers?
My kids won't keep our cyber trail, or at least I don't think they will. Are the newer generations more self focussed than the past gens? What did our parents think of our enquiries into their doings? Did we have any? Or were we just plowing ahead without much thought of history?
I too, miss connections lost - never followed in the heat of the present. Friendship and kinship is fragile and must be fed with attention and nurture even when the appetite is satiated. Jazus, I'm getting reflective in my dotage. Press on, don't look back. Oops, I'm losing the connection.......................

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