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Vocapedia > Time > Past > Remembrance, Commemoration, Memorial, Memories

 

 

 

Siu Chong and Elena Lazar

visited the 9/11 Memorial

to remember Eugene Gabriel Lazar,

who died in the attacks

on the World Trade Center.

 

Damon Winter/The New York Times

 

On 9/11 Anniversary,

a Small and Somber Ritual in Lower Manhattan

NYT

SEPT. 11, 2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/12/nyregion/on-
9-11-anniversary-a-small-and-somber-ritual-in-lower-manhattan.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The memorial for Sandra Bland

in the spot where she was arrested

by State Trooper Brian T. Encinia.

 

Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

 

Texas County’s Racial Past

Is Seen as Prelude to Sandra Bland’s Death

NYT

JULY 26, 2015

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/27/
us/racial-divide-persists-in-texas-county-where-sandra-bland-died.html

 

Related

police misconduct > Sandra Bland    1987-2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

remember        UK

 

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/30/
jane-bown-born-wrong-side-blanket-observer-photographer

 

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/11/
dementia-disease-care-g8-action-plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

remember        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/2017/11/18/
564798115/joe-biden-remembers-his-son-in-his-new-memoir

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/08/23/
545548965/what-our-monuments-don-t-teach-us-about-remembering-the-past

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/06/22/
533987796/mourners-remember-otto-warmbier-at-hometown-funeral

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/16/
533255537/heartbeat-music-parents-remember-their-son-through-his-song-of-life

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/
books/review/he-calls-me-by-lightning-s-jonathan-bass.html

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/19/
515822019/farming-behind-barbed-wire-japanese-americans-remember-wwii-incarceration

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/
magazine/the-brain-that-couldnt-remember.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/12/nyregion/
on-9-11-anniversary-a-small-and-somber-ritual-in-lower-manhattan.html

http://www.nytimes.com/video/
remembering-9-11

 

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/25/
magazine/2014-the-lives-they-lived.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/21/
opinion/dowd-remember-to-forget.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

memory problem > face blindness        USA

 

http://www.npr.org/2010/11/13/
131267727/living-with-face-blindness-who-are-you-again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

remembrance        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/nov/09/
remembrance-finding-our-lost-boys

 

 

 

 

UK > Remembrance Day / Sunday        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/remembranceday

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=CXQnFg0DDsI - G - 10 November 2019

 

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/08/
remembrance-sunday-queen-leads-tributes-as-services-held-across-uk

 

 

 

 

remembrance        USA

https://www.npr.org/2019/11/11/
777635075/remembering-the-1st-veterans-memorialized-by-veterans-day

 

http://www.npr.org/2015/11/01/
453736358/in-a-shared-language-of-remembrance-whose-memories-are-ours

 

 

 

 

USA > Veterans Day        USA

https://www.npr.org/2019/11/11/
777635075/remembering-the-1st-veterans-memorialized-by-veterans-day

 

 

 

 

commemorate        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/13/us/
facing-perilous-fights-obama-turns-to-history-and-donors.html

 

 

 

 

commemoration        UK

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/01/somme-
centenary-commemorations-silence-fitting-memorial-uk-france

 

 

 

 

attend a commemoration        UK

https://witness.theguardian.com/assignment/52a5c173e4b0a8ed49b80ce7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reenact

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reenactment        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/2019/11/09/
777810796/hundreds-march-in-reenactment-of-a-historic-but-long-forgotten-slave-rebellion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

re-enactress        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/2015/06/09/
412209979/the-battles-of-a-civil-war-re-enactress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

re-enactor        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/2015/06/09/
412209979/the-battles-of-a-civil-war-re-enactress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

not forgotten        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/
obituaries/archives/cory-booker-frederick-douglass

 

 

 

 

Extreme Memory Tournament    XMT        USA

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/19/
remembering-as-an-extreme-sport/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

recall        UK

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/22/
first-world-war-memories-last-survivors

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/08/
nelson-mandela-francois-pienaar-rugby-world-cup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

recall        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/04/
811729200/former-prisoner-recalls-sanders-saying-i-don-t-know-what-s-so-wrong-with-cuba

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/02/06/
583633391/a-tiny-pulse-of-electricity-can-help-the-brain-form-lasting-memories

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/07/
504733373/pearl-harbor-75-years-later-u-s-recalls-a-shocking-attack

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/18/us/
pulse-nightclub-orlando-mass-shooting.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/19/us/
thomas-eric-duncan-ebola-victim-is-mourned-at-service.html

 

 

 

 

commemorate        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/us/
demonstrations-across-the-country-commemorate-trayvon-martin.html

 

 

 

 

reflect on N        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/30/
jane-bown-born-wrong-side-blanket-observer-photographer

 

 

 

 

recollection        UK

https://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2017/jan/29/
a-neuroscientist-explains-how-the-brain-stores-memories-podcast

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/10/
politicians-thatcher-anecdotes

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/
health/10miscarriage.html

 

 

 

 

recollection        USA

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/06/
movies/tarantino-thurman-interview.html

 

 

 

 

reminisce        USA

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/25/nyregion/long-island-
veterans-vintage-aircraft.html

 

 

 

 

reminiscent of N        UK

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8125015/
Student-tuition-fee-protests-reminiscent-of-1960s-demonstration.html

 

 

 

 

digital inheritance        USA

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/04/09/
300614977/the-new-age-leaving-behind-everything-or-nothing-at-all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haunted by Memories for 100 Years

NYT        Sep. 20, 2015

 

 

 

 

Haunted by Memories for 100 Years        NYT        Sep. 20, 2015 | 5:00

 

In 1915,

Mamie Kirkland and her family fled Ellisville, Miss.,

in fear that her father would be lynched.

 

She swore she would never return.

 

But at age 107, she made the journey.

 

Haunted by Memories for 100 Years

NYT

Sep. 20, 2015

http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000003923891/haunted-by-memories-for-100-years.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

memory, memories        UK / USA

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/02/06/
583633391/a-tiny-pulse-of-electricity-can-help-the-brain-form-lasting-memories

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/17/
533239904/in-memorys-last-breath-an-academic-confronts-dementia

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/
opinion/sunday/you-still-need-your-brain.html

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2017/04/10/
521594471/preserving-memories-in-emails-to-a-toddler-a-window-into-her-parents-love

https://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2017/jan/29/
a-neuroscientist-explains-how-the-brain-stores-memories-podcast

 

http://www.npr.org/2016/12/02/
504025469/san-bernardino-shootings-signs-have-faded-but-memories-remain-piercing

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/12/01/
504004353/zap-magnet-study-offers-fresh-insights-into-how-memory-works

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jul/12/
how-did-you-store-your-memories-before-the-internet

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/07/
snapchat-memories-photo-messaging-service

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/09/
delete-bad-memories-forget

 

http://www.npr.org/2015/11/01/
453736358/in-a-shared-language-of-remembrance-whose-memories-are-ours

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07j4jg8 - 5 July 2016

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/15/
nyregion/witness-accounts-in-midtown-hammer-attack-show-the-power-of-false-memory.html

 

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/20/
corin-redgrave-he-lost-his-memory-of-our-life-together

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/sep/21/
google-influence-on-collective-memory-lauren-laverne

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/06/
opinion/memories-from-normandy.html

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/02/04/
271527934/our-brains-rewrite-our-memories-putting-present-in-the-past

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/22/
first-world-war-memories-last-survivors

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jan/11/
losing-mother-dementia-sally-magnusson

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/22/us/
kennedy-has-been-shot-memories-from-nov-22-1963.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/22/
opinion/nov-22-memories-of-that-awful-day.html

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/08/07/us/
share-your-memories-of-the-march-on-washington.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/22/
experience-married-childhood-sweetheart

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jan/04/
david-bailey-photographer

 

 

 

 

in my memory        USA

https://www.npr.org/2019/11/28/
783272904/fisheries-and-fishermen-hard-hit-by-decline-of-oysters-on-gulf-coast

 

 

 

 

 

haunted by memories        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000003923891/
haunted-by-memories-for-100-years.html - Sep. 20, 2015

 

 

 

 

memories > digital black hole        USA

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/16/
digital-black-hole-delete-memories-information-lost-google-vint-cerf

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/13/
google-boss-warns-forgotten-century-email-photos-vint-cerf

 

 

 

 

false memory        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/15/nyregion/
witness-accounts-in-midtown-hammer-attack-show-the-power-of-false-memory.html

 

 

 

 

early memories        USA

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/04/08/
299189442/the-forgotten-childhood-why-early-memories-fade

 

 

 

 

painful memories        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/15/nyregion/
connecticut-death-penalty-ruling-stirs-painful-memories-of-3-grisly-killings.html

 

 

 

 

haunt

 

 

 

 

haunting memories        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/09/us/
matured-anchorage-struggles-to-shake-old-fears.html

 

 

 

 

prayer in memory of N        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/dec/06/
desmond-tutu-leads-prayer-memory-nelson-mandela-video

 

 

 

 

prayer of remembrance for of N        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/dec/08/
prayers-remembrance-nelson-mandela-south-africa-video

 

 

 

 

false memory        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jul/25/
false-memory-implanted-mouse-brain

 

 

 

 

internet memories        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/30/
your-internet-memories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

memorize        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/08/
518815297/maybe-you-too-could-become-a-super-memorizer

 

 

 

 

memorization        USA

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/24/
upshot/an-ancient-and-proven-way-to-improve-memory-go-ahead-and-try-it.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

memorialize        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/2019/11/11/
777635075/remembering-the-1st-veterans-memorialized-by-veterans-day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

memorial        USA

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/27/
us/minneapolis-police.html

 

 

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/us/
apollo-1-memorial.html

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/2015/09/11/
439241030/at-a-brooklyn-cemetery-a-place-of-work-and-an-enduring-memorial

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/01/us/
samuel-duboses-death-in-cincinnati-points-to-off-campus-power-of-college-police.html

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/nyregion/
at-9-11-memorial-police-raise-suicide-fears.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at a memorial for N        USA

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/10/us/
baltimore-bishop-charged-in-hit-and-run-case.html

 

 

 

 

makeshift memorial        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/11/
tia-sharp-police-arrest-woman-man

 

 

 

 

gather at a makeshift memorial to N

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/30/us/
boy-15-is-charged-with-murder-in-killing-of-madyson-middleton.html

 

 

 

 

memorial websites        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/blog/2009/oct/07/
memorial-websites-online-tributes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

memorial service        UK

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/blog/2013/dec/10/
nelson-mandelas-memorial-service-live-updates

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cartoon/2013/apr/16/
steve-bell-on-margaret-thatcher-s-memorial-service

 

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/jun/09/cumbria-
shootings-memorial-services 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2009/sep/21/
sir-bobby-robson-memorial-service2 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day        USA        26 May

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/25/
861904058/biden-commemorates-memorial-day-in-first-outing-amid-coronavirus-pandemic

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/25/
861885809/americans-welcome-summer-with-a-somber-and-surreal-memorial-day

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/25/
861896865/trump-praises-fallen-soldiers-in-memorial-day-ceremonies

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/
opinion/the-silence-of-memorial-day.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

keepsake        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/06/
us/rocky-fire-in-california-defies-expectations-and-defenses.html

 

 

 

 

memoir        USA

https://www.npr.org/2017/11/18/
564798115/joe-biden-remembers-his-son-in-his-new-memoir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

forgetfulness / memory loss (amnesia)        USA

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/12/18/
571120472/older-adults-forgetfulness-tied-to-faulty-brain-rhythms-in-sleep

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/
opinion/the-last-calendar.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYC's Unforgettable '77 Summer

 

July 14, 2007

Filed at 1:42 p.m. ET

The New York Times

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

NEW YORK (AP) -- It was the summer of Reggie, the summer of Sam, the summer when the lights went dark and the Bronx burned bright.

Thirty years ago, as the temperatures soared and its morale plunged, New York City endured a scathing summer custom-made for tabloid headlines: A crippling July blackout, complete with arson and looting (''24 HOURS OF TERROR''); a media-savvy serial killer dubbed the Son of Sam (''NO ONE IS SAFE''); and a dysfunctional, sensational New York Yankees team (''THE BRONX ZOO'').

There was more: A bitterly contested mayoral race, the lingering threat of fiscal disaster, the perception that crime was turning New York City into Dodge City (albeit with a splashier skyline). The nation's largest city was becoming a punchline, but those who resisted the urge to flee the five boroughs weren't laughing.

''There were three things that were bad for the city: First was the blackout and the looting,'' recalled Ed Koch, who was running to unseat incumbent Mayor Abe Beame. ''Second was the fear in the city with the Son of Sam. And third was Howard Cosell's comment that the Bronx was burning.''

The air of desperation eventually led to inspiration: ESPN is revisiting 1977 with its eight-part serialization of the Jonathan Mahler book ''Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning,'' while Spike Lee directed the slice of '77 life ''Summer of Sam'' back in 1999.

But it's not an era that inspires nostalgia.

''You had looting, you had a homicidal maniac, you had the city in dire straits fiscally,'' said Mitchell Moss, a professor at the New York University Urban Research Center. ''There was a genuine breakdown in the city's self-confidence.''

------

It was 9:34 p.m. on July 13, 1977, when the lights went out. All of 'em, in all five boroughs, when a lightning bolt knocked out electricity to about 8 million people.

When the power returned 25 hours later, it illuminated a city in chaos. Widespread looting and arson had raged, with Beame lamenting ''a night of terror.'' The mayor's quote, in large type, became newspaper shorthand for the destruction: more than 1,700 stores looted, more than $150 million in property damage, more than 3,000 people arrested.

Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin remembered walking along Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue around 6 a.m. on July 14, watching a woman and a small boy lugging a dining room table.

''The boy is struggling,'' Breslin said. ''Out of the goodness of my heart, I hold up the back end of the table. I took four steps, and the thought occurs to me: I'm a looter. I told the kid, `Sorry, you'll have to do it yourself.'''

For Koch, Beame's failure to maintain order provided a huge campaign boost. Koch was a law-and-order candidate in a city where anarchy had ruled for a day.

''The blackout probably meant the difference between my winning and losing,'' Koch now says. ''I was then, and am now, for the death penalty.

''Although not for looters.''

------

Even when the power disappeared, this was the summer when Reggie Jackson owned the spotlight.

The power-hitting right fielder arrived in New York with a huge contract and an ego to match, announcing -- at the expense of team captain Thurman Munson -- that he was ''the straw that stirs the drink.''

His big bat and bigger mouth kept the Yankees on the back page of the tabloids, even as the city's bigger stories dominated page one. By season's end, Reggie would become front-page news, too.

A month before the blackout, Jackson and combative Yankees manager Billy Martin nearly came to blows in the dugout after Martin pulled the future Hall of Famer mid-game for a perceived lack of effort in Fenway Park.

''Was this the straw that broke the camel's back?'' asked Daily News sportswriter Phil Pepe after the June 18, 1977, near-brawl.

The Yankees had recently been bought by George Steinbrenner, rounding out the troika that transfixed fans into the fall. The once-storied franchise, moribund for most of the previous decade, was back as the new owner and the old-school manager struggled to find harmony with their superstar slugger.

------

It was around 2:30 a.m. on July 31 when the Son of Sam struck for the last time.

His real name was David Berkowitz. He lived north of the city, in Yonkers, and claimed to take his homicidal marching orders from a neighbor's dog. His weapon of choice was a Charter Arms Bulldog .44-caliber revolver.

He killed six New Yorkers and wounded seven more. Terrified women across the city, noting the gunman targeted long-haired brunettes, opted for a shorter, blonder look. The shootings began in July 1976, shortly after the nation's bicentennial. The last attack, one year later on a Brooklyn lovers' lane, killed 20-year-old Stacy Moskowitz.

It took eight months after the first murder for police to link the shootings. Once they did, a sense of dread consumed the city.

''It was all looking for freaking Berkowitz,'' said Breslin. ''I didn't know if the Yankees were playing baseball or not. The political campaign, I hardly looked at. ... It was the same, all the time.''

In taunting letters to police and Breslin, the killer proclaimed himself the Son of Sam.

''I had to go in and talk with the police,'' Breslin remembered. ''This inspector said, `I'm hoping you're the one that can bring him in.' I said, `What am I supposed to do? Get killed?'''

Instead, Breslin wrote a column urging Son of Sam to surrender.

''GIVE UP!'' the headline screamed. ''IT'S ONLY WAY OUT.''

------

It was in October, during the World Series between the Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, when Howard Cosell told a national television audience, ''Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.''

A building near Yankee Stadium was indeed ablaze, although Cosell's crack created a negative image that lasted long after the flames were extinguished.

Cosell spoke as the mayor's race reached its final weeks. Koch would win and spend the next 12 years in City Hall.

''The most important thing, aside from balancing the budget, was upgrading the spirits of New Yorkers, making them feel we could overcome and prevail,'' Koch said.

Berkowitz was already behind bars, arrested Aug. 10 after a Brooklyn parking ticket led police to his door. ''How come it took you so long?'' he asked the arresting detectives.

The Yankees won their first World Series in 15 years, led by Jackson, who drilled three homers on three pitches in the deciding game. ''YANKEES ARE CHAMPS!'' read page one of the Daily News.

Thirty years later, ''Mr. October'' returned to the Bronx for the annual Yankees' old timers' day festivities. His long-ago season was inevitably brought up, and Jackson acknowledged that it lingers to this day.

''I can forgive,'' he said of that year's assorted pinstriped contretemps, ''but I can't forget.''

Few can when it comes to the summer of '77.

NYC's Unforgettable '77 Summer,
NYT,
14.7.2007,
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Summer-of-77.html

 

 

 

 

 

History 1980-2000

has disappeared into the ether.

Sorry

 

March 23, 2007

From The Times

Ben Macintyre

 

We know what was written in the first telegram, sent by Samuel F. B. Morse in 1844: “What hath God wrought?” We know the words spoken by Alexander Graham Bell when he made the first telephone call in 1876, to his assistant, Thomas Watson: “Mr Watson — come here — I want to see you.” (The “polite telephone manner” had not yet been invented.) But we have absolutely no idea what was said in the first e-mail, just 35 years ago.

The digital age brought with it the false promise that everything written, filmed, photographed or recorded might now be preserved, for ever. The “save” key would eliminate the need for filing and storage. Since 1945 we have gathered 100 times more information than in the whole of human history up until that point. Entire libraries could be preserved on disks that fitted into a pocket. Paper was dead.

It has not quite worked out that way. Digital information may be impossibly voluminous and convenient, but it is also vulnerable and dangerously disposable. Already a vast amount of information has been lost. CDs disintegrate in just 20 years, whereas the Domesday Book, written on sheepskin in 1086, will still be with us in another millennium. Few people still write regular letters, but their replacement, the ubiquitous e-mail, is so easily deleted and forgotten, to say nothing of the fleeting text message.

Technology has already left behind the forms of electronic storage once expected to be eternal: the laser disk, the 5¼in, the 3.5in floppy, the Amstrad all-in-one word processor have all been flung into obsolescence, often taking their information with them. Only a small fraction of government bodies and companies even bother to archive their digital material. Who, save the most fastidious self-chronicler, takes the trouble to embalm their own e-mails electronically? Historians of the future may look back on the 1980s and 1990s as a black hole in the collective memory, a time when the historical record thinned alarmingly owing to the pace of technological change. Future biographers may be reduced to trying to extract personality from whatever electronic fragments survive, cheque stubs and those few ritual moments (birth, death and overdraft) when a subject still puts pen to paper.

I have recently spent many hours in the National Archives, ferreting through the wartime records of MI5.

The sheer richness of written material is overwhelming: letters, memos, telephone transcripts, diaries, scribbled notes in the margins. You can smell the pipe smoke and personalities wafting off the pages.

When MI5’s current files are released decades hence, historians will have a far drier time of it. Electronic messages not deemed to be of “archival” value are routinely deleted by civil servants, simply as an insurance policy — significant or potentially damaging information is strictly verbal, particularly since Jo Moore’s attempt to “bury bad news” by e-mail.

Arguably, the most important and reliable real-time histories of places such as Iraq and Iran are currently being written on weblogs, the online journals and discussion forums that are, by definition, mutable and impermanent. A historian 50 years hence would probably get the most accurate picture of life in Baghdad today by collecting and studying the blogs of the moment, but it may already be too late. The average life expectancy of a website is about 44 days, roughly the same as the common house fly.

Just as importantly, by committing to erasable electronic memory the things we once committed to paper, we may be denying future generations the chance to witness the warp and weft of our lives. Our ancestors were writers and hoarders. I have a collection of my grandfather’s letters in the attic, describing the life of a sheep farmer in New South Wales in the 1930s. They are of interest, I suspect, to no one but me, but to me they are invaluable, a chronicle of where I come from. What will we bequeath to our grandchildren? At best a bunch of antiquated disks that they may well be unable to open and read.

Anyone (with a magnifying glass and patience) can read letters, but there is a real danger that technology will leave much of the electronically written record marooned and illegible. The BBC’s Doomsday Project of 1986, intended to record the economic, social and cultural state of Britain for all time, was recorded on two 12in videodisks. By 2000 it was obsolete, and rescued only thanks to a specialist team working with a single surviving laser disk player.

When Nasa sent two Viking Lander spacecraft to Mars in 1975, the data was carefully recorded on magnetic tape. Two decades later, no one could decode it. The original printouts had be tracked down, and typed out again on paper.

And that, ironic as it seems, may be the answer. The Digital Preservation Coalition, a group encouraging governments, businesses and individuals to curate and preserve electronic information, recently published a report stating that “storage of printed copies of important documents is generally accepted as a reasonably failsafe method of preservation”.

This, then, is a plea for paper. So long as it is stored properly and acid-free, paper endures. Leave the ephemera to the electronic ether, but if you value certain words and images, preserve them on paper. The “print” button is a more faithful saviour than the “save” button.

Before the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson sent his message to the fleet by raising flags using Sir Home Popham’s telegraphic code (a rather newfangled form of communication, which not everyone approved of) — whereupon the words were written down for posterity, on paper.

Today the same message would probably be sent by text — instant, easy, and instantly perishable: “UK xpx dat evry man wll do his duT.”

History 1980-2000 has disappeared into the ether. Sorry,
Ts,
23.3.2007,
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/
columnists/ben_macintyre/article1555570.ece - broken link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia

 

data loss, digital archiving / memories

 

 

time

 

 

getting older

 

 

health > Alzheimer's

 

 

death

 

 

war > remembrance

 

 

veterans > UK

 

 

veterans > USA

 

 

veterans > USA > Veteran Affairs Department