When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future/Washington Post

Interesting Washington Post opinion piece by Nicholas Carr about the book “When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future” by Abby Smith Rumsey.

When our digital memory is lost in the cloud, what becomes of our human history?

I’ll post this here now in hopes of developing more of my own commentary soon. Please feel free to comment with your thoughts on the article.

A couple parts that interest me:

“A physical connection between the present and past is wondrously forged through the medium of time-stained paper,” she writes. But that “distinctive visceral connection” with history may be much diminished, if not lost, when our cultural heritage is stored in sterile databases rather than in actual objects.


Rumsey is clear about the dangers of our “ephemeral digital landscape,” but she isn’t a doomsayer. She believes that we can protect our cultural legacy for our descendants, even if that legacy ends up mainly in the form of immaterial bits. But, she stresses, we’ll first need to overcome our complacency and start taking the long-term protection of valuable data seriously. We’ll need a reinvigorated system of libraries and archives, spanning the public, private and nonprofit sectors, that are adept at digital preservation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s