Synthesis Thinkpiece

tl;dr: Reflect on the past three investigations, and surface a question or concept around the integration of memory, technology and smart spaces/objects that you would like to spend more time exploring i.e. share the ideas you found compelling and you would like to pursue as part of the final project.

Due: Thursday, Apr 4

Submit : Submit your thinkpiece as a Post in the #think-pieces channel. Add your slides to the deck provided


We’ve covered quite a bit of ground in the course already. We’ve surveyed readings relating to memory, technology, psychology, culture, architecture and more. We’ve surfaced many examples of how memory, technology and smart objects and spaces are colliding; and we’ve speculated on future possibilities too. We’ve looked at supporting our own personal memories from capturing and preserving a cherished memory to providing reminders, prompts and prosthetics to overcome the sins of memory. We’ve delved into the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ and why the permanence of digital legacy on the internet might require wholly new ways to forget and divest ourselves of memories. Finally, we’ve considered the long-tail of digital legacy and asked how we might be remembered through our digital content by designing spaces for memorials that incorporate a digital component. As we prepare for our final project, let’s take a moment to revisit, reflect on and remind ourselves of the ideas that we’ve encountered.

Learning Objectives

As part of the exercise, students will:

  • self-select a concept for further and shared exploration as part of the final project;
  • identify and review concepts that relate to the course and that can inform our work;
  • helped co-create a body of knowledge on memory to draw on as part of their final explorations; and
  • reflect on how technology and memory are and will overlap and the challenges we should consider.


As part of this thinking piece, you are asked to reflect on the course topics and develop a statement of interest ahead of the final project. As part of this statement, you should surface a clear question, concept or idea you would like to explore.

Note Avoid the specificity of an implementation. Don’t design at this point. Formulate a question or address an area for inquiry but don’t specify an outcome. Why? Because the final project will be collaborative and you should leave room for contribution and inquiry.

First, let’s revisit the goals of this course:

Humans have grappled with the impact of technology on the construction of memory since Socrates. Paintings, writing and more recently photography and video provide ubiquitous mechanisms to preserve, externalize, and share important experiences. In an increasingly connected and digitalized information age, our entanglements with distributed memory and identity are growing necessarily complex. Our social streams, quantified measures of self from wearables and the traces of our daily interactions automagically preserved by our smartphones afford promise to stimulate and support our understanding the past. We can easily envision a future with complete and pervasive capture of self through these rapidly expanding and seemingly endless streams of digital data. But these digital and online surrogates can already confound and challenge our conceptions of and even the formation of human analog memory. * So, what does this future look like? how will networked memories effect and augment humans? will we be able to and should we remember everything? how reliant could we become on these digital tools? how does it change our understanding of self? can you forget or lie in a world of ubiquitous connected memory? what happens when our digital lives live beyond us? how does networked memory transform historical record and cultural memory? … This course will anticipate this almost inevitable future of memory: a connected world where memories are captured, shared, monitored, and recounted as a networked effort. It aims to a develop a vibrant interdisciplinary dialog on the current and future challenges of memory in the digital era. It seeks to not just imagining, but prototype, new near-future scenarios that speculate and critically examine the potential and limits of ‘total recall’.

Having refreshed your memory (pun intended), reflect on what aspects of this future you find exciting as follows


Research and prepare a report that can be shared with the group. Add your Thinking Piece to the #think-pieces as a new post on slack (see below). This post should contain a essay (750 words) on a topic of your choosing. The thinking piece should include appropriate citations, link referenced texts and works and acknowledge authors appropriately. You’re welcome to include illustrations and images as needed too.

For this exercise, students will identify an open question or challenge posed in developing responsive technologies for the above context and that they are personally interested in. This should include a clear description of your area of interest as well as supporting research, examples, precedents, and other sources that provide context to your ideas and argumentation.

Reflect on the ideas you’ve encountered as part of the course and select one you’d like to explore more. You’re welcome to go beyond the three investigations to other ideas you’ve encountered too.

In your statement do three things:

  1. Start from a problem, open challenge or area of interest i.e. give a little explanation what you chose the area/idea/question you did and why its interesting and relevant;
  2. Formalize a question or statement which expresses that interest effectively and narrowly i.e. distill it down to something quick, easy and clear to communicate
  3. Develop a statement of how it relates to ideas and outcomes which precede it i.e. support it with references and research; tell us why this is important; how does it advance or extend prior work; etc.

For part 3, don’t rely only on things introduced or surfaced as part of the course materials or discussions. You’re expect to go beyond the course materials and readings and bring in new literature, projects, exemplars, and ideas.

Research Talk

Based on your research report, each student will give a three-minute research talk on a topic of their choosing. This is an opportunity for you to share your ideas with the rest of the group and get them as excited about the exploration as you are.

The length of the talk is a challenge - so think carefully about how to communicate your ideas succinctly and clearly.

To help with quick transitions between speakers, students will be asked to contribute their slides to a single Google Slides presentation ahead of time.