Death of Memory

Not only people die and it hurts when they go. Institutions can die as well and it hurts too. Sometimes it does much more than hurt. It shocks and it makes one aware of dangerous realities. The process of mourning loss can be linked with an acute insight into something deeply disturbing: The attack on memory, history and sense of identity. What is even more disturbing is the growing awareness that someone can pull the plug and cut us off from precious memory. With this insight goes the shocking awareness that one has entrusted one’s memory to someone else who can wipe it out. This obituary draws attention to how our own memory and the place where it is stored can be outside of our control. This is the story of a photographic website which for more than 20 years has become the perhaps most important and respected storage place for information about digital photography and its history. It is the shocking story of our digital memory when its storage is not under our own control. Very little of our digital history is under our own control. It is naive to think it is safe with Google or Amazon or any of the providers of digital space and storage for which we often do not even have to pay. Even if we are paying for it there is no guarantee that our memory is realy in good hands and that its history is preserved and protected.

Tony Northrup’s obituary for DPReviews on YouTube – Amazon deleted DPReview. Seriously. – offers an excellent starting point for anyone who needs information and enlightenment.

UPDATE: The ressurection of DPReview as archive. However, this does not change anything when it comes to the question of the life and death of digital memory.