Remember This Day — Our Digital Tapestry
“A single thread in a tapestry, through its color brightly shine,
can never see its purpose in the pattern of the grand design” – Prince of Egypt
Our Facebook walls, Minds Channels, Twitter streams and Google photo libraries create a digital tapestry that we are all weaving into a fabric of our collective past. Each of us have a thread of 0 and 1’s spinning behind us. These threads are becoming individual expressions of curated experiences. Advances in A.I. are allowing us to interact with these threads in a new way that I feel has, and will continue to have, a profound impact on how we live and experience our connected lives.
Have you ever woken up to a notification from Facebook saying, “you have a memory with so and so?” Ever get excited to look back? How about when it displays a name you have tried to forget? A friend you kept wishing you wrote back, but could not find the words in the moment to apologize for the busy lives we lead and lack of contact as a result. Pictures of past relationships and moments of shared union that you could not wait to post, but now debate hiding from your timeline or deleting entirely.
How we each choose to interact with our threaded timelines has an impact on the greater tapestry.
“Your life is written in indelible ink. There’s no going back to erase the past, tweak your mistakes, or fill in missed opportunities. When the moment’s over, your fate is sealed. But if look closer, you notice the ink never really dries on any our experiences. They can change their meaning the longer you look at them.”
– The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
If we are all creating this work of art, what responsibility do we have to each other in its creation? I have friends who won’t ever delete an old post or picture, creating photocopy-like expressions. Some that leave Jackson Pollock-esque walls. Looking at any one post is a unique impression of an individual’s passion. Is any single expression right or wrong?
When it gets to the point of having to block and sever another’s thread — one that was once so closely tied — it creates gaps and holes in the collective tapestry; a bad break up that leads to timeline bleaching. Whiting out once beautiful moments — moments that were chosen to be displayed for all to see. We are being given this digital bleach each day as we are notified with glimpses of this tapestry.
What happens? And how do we react when someone else takes that bleach to our own thread? Deleting things they don’t wish to be a part of the design…
Google scans my photos and videos, searching for emotional context. It scans for smiles and moments of elation and excitement. It surprises me with edited videos, composed with beautiful music and effects. It’s becoming an Artistic Assistant of my own life. A digital director having artificial discernment of times in my past totally forgotten. It can do so, in such a way, that makes the moment special yet again.
Can these assistants help us heal faster from a breakup, loss, or tragedy by helping us remember the good times? Memories are affected in the moments they are recalled. When our recollection is guided by artificial intelligence, how can we ensure it’s in our best interests? We are training these algorithms the more we upload, interact, and connect. Will a future version of Facebook memories understand my current emotional state? Will I receive a notification with a moment from the past that brings me that much needed boost to get through the day?
Will they understand the context contained in every chat, txt and email sent? Reminding you who has helped you through hard times in the past and prompts you with a draft to send and reconnect. When we each have these assistants getting to know us more intimately, I feel the human experience of connection will become richer and more vibrant. The threads we weave together into this digital tapestry is, and will continue to be, humanity’s greatest masterpiece.