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Memories and Records | Getting in a Tangle

 

Getting in a tangle

 

I realise I have gradually started using the word 'memories' to mean 'records', and objects like photos, diaries, letters, keepsakes, etc.

 

Maybe this is because I don't to put you off, because the word 'record' sounds a bit more dry than I mean?

 

But there is a specific distinction I am trying to make. There are some things (physical or digital) that trigger memories when you see them. Often the thing will also create an emotion, and sometimes you choose to use it to capture part of your life story.

 

Perhaps I've been using them interchangeably. But some records (even important records) are hardly 'digital treasure'.

 

The inevitable over-generalised example

 

I mean, yes, that one blurry photo of you on your grandad's knee is a record. Of what he and you looked like then, of the fact that you were once, at least once, in the same room. But...

 

...if it's blurry, it's not a very good record, is it? (sorry!) The photo is important to you because it helps you remember him years later. But a better record of what he looked like would be his passport photo.

 

So why does everyone always say their passport photo doesn't look like them? Because it never captures who we are.

 

Unlike most photos, they have no context. You haven't been snapped doing something; you're not posing with friends; you're not standing in front of some random statue you saw on holiday.

 

We aren't used to seeing photos with no context, so they look weird.

 

We don't connect with the photos in our passports because they are 'records', not 'memories'. (Is this fair to say? Don't let me get away with spouting guff!)

 

Memories or Records?

 

I'm going to carry on using 'memories' in this way. Most of the time, its the feels that I am talking about anyway, not the thing itself.

 

So - to you archivists out there (I love you for reading!) - I am aware that I have slipped into using 'memories' as a shorthand for a subset of 'records'. But I know I'm doing it, and am going to carry on anyway! *sticks out tongue - neeerrrh!* #SorryNotSorry!

 

Thank you!

 

Look at you down at the bottom of the page! Woo! Thanks so much for reading! I appreciate it so much :) Not sure I actually elucidated much!

 

If you would like more nonsense like this on a monthly basis, just pop me your email address. I'll send you each month's new content, and you'll also get my free workbook: How to Start Your Digital Archive.

 

We're currently getting into my Deep Dive into Personal Archiving Series:

 

Series Intro: Why Stuff Matters (to us)

Previous article: Looking back on our Digital Lives in 2008

Next article: Who Makes Collections?

 

And if you're a nerd ♥ and would like to know what I've been reading this week:

 

McKemmish, Sue. ‘Evidence of Me... in a Digital World’. In I, Digital: Personal Collections in the Digital Era, edited by Christopher A. Lee. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2011.

 

You're welcome ;)

 

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