Curating Our Cultural History
By Amy Willis
How will our memories be experienced by future generations? How much of our cultural memory is “owed” to them? And why on earth would the Library of Congress be interested in preserving years worth of tweets??? These were among the topics of conversations in this episode in which EconTalk host Russ Roberts talked with archivist and historian Abby Smith Rumsey about how we experience memories of the past, and how we might preserve them for the future.
This episode got me thinking a lot about what my grandchildren might make of EconTalk, among other memories and experiences I hold dear. Can I ensure that they will experience them? How do I know they will find any value in them?
1. What sorts of memories (personal and/or cultural) are you most concerned with preserving for the future? How will you ensure they are preserved?
2. What does Rumsey mean when she says that “really good memory requires the art of forgetting?” Is she right?
3. Do we have a moral obligation to preserve our digital memories for the next generation, as Rumsey suggests? Why?
4. Rumsey asserts that we must rely on forward-thinking institutions for the care and handling of our digital memories. Assuming this is true, who should be charged with running such institutions.
Bonus: (Yes, we have more books we’re happy to part with!) Choose one of Michel de Montaigne’s essays that speaks to you. Which one did you choose, and what do you think it has to say about the experience of life and the preservation of memory? I’ll post my own reflections in a later post as well so let’s read & reflect together!