We all have our individual memories of shared events. I have clear memories of where I was when during the Challenger disaster, the death of Kurt Cobain, 9/11, the LA Riots, Columbine, and fall of the Berlin wall. I remember being in a small Baptist Church covering a visit of Jesse Jackson, a UCSD protest that actually moved onto I5 and stopped traffic for hours, and being one of thousands of screaming fans at numerous u2 concerts over the years.
Our individual memories might be recorded in a journal or blog. We might tell our children or grandchildren, but I can’t imagine them lasting beyond a generation. One of my biggest regrets in my life so far centers around one of my grandfathers. He lived an eventful life, fighting in WWII and spending his career as a police officer in Chicago. I never asked him much about his life. When he passed 11 years ago, those memories were mostly lost to me.
Technology gives us a new window to our collective memories. Holocaust survivors are telling their stories to various organizations who are recording them so that the generations to come can witness the testimonies of the witnesses. What about the rest of us? The importance of our stories has a different importance. They help define our era, interests, daily life, and culture.
Well, you probably could have guessed, there is a cool newish web site that is doing just this – it is giving everyday people the opportunity to record their memories. MemoryArchive is a site powered by MediaWiki (of Wikipedia fame) where anyone can write a story about an event or individual. You simply add it to the wiki (they have instructions), they review it and then lock it so others don’t change your memory. They even added a teacher section. I could see some great potential here. Students could go out in the community and write the story of a grandparent or neighbor.
Go check it out. Add a memory to our collective knowledge base.