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Digital Dust – Jay Owens – Medium
Dust would seem to be the most material of things, sometimes the most ultimately material: it’s what is left of an object when all form, structure, context and legibility are stripped away — when the object is destroyed, and only the fact of its materiality remains.

Dust would seem, therefore, to be the antithesis of the digital, the opposite of its binary 0s and 1s. Digital means data, virtual and immaterial; it’s black and white, crisply demarcated, perfectly defined. Dust is grey, and deeply, existentially fuzzy.

So obviously I’m going to argue that the digital is dusty as hell.

This argument has three parts: first, the desire for the digital to become dust in the form of sensor devices shrinking to a tiny, dusty scale. ...

Second, the problem of the digital gathering dust, and aging and disintegrating over time....

The biggest challenge is that communication is expensive: transmitting one bit of information to the outside world ‘costs’ the same amount of energy as 100,000 CPU operations, says Prabal Dutta, a researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Keeping a smart dust mote constantly ‘awake’, monitoring and transmitting, requires a larger solar cell and so it isn’t very micro; a smart dust mote that only wakes up and samples occasionally, however, thereby isn’t very smart....

“I think the long-term prospects for neural dust are not only within nerves and the brain, but much broader,“ said Michel Maharbiz. “Having access to in-body telemetry has never been possible because there has been no way to put something supertiny superdeep. But now I can take a speck of nothing and park it next to a nerve or organ, your GI tract or a muscle, and read out the data.“....

Every digital storage medium decays. Solid-state drives & flash memory see electrical charges leak away due to imperfect insulation. Hard drives & floppy disks are magnetic media, and thereby decay as bits lose their magnetic orientation. ...

In the last twenty years, a new discourse of infinite remembering has grown in seeming opposition to the death drive: Big Data. An ideology in which the sheer size of the dataset itself is seen as determining the value and potential insight....

Your training dataset is gap-riddled and inherently biased. It’s lossy. Unsupervised learning methods exist too — deep belief nets, generative adversarial networks — which can find patterns or structure in unlabelled data. But the patterns they find are low-dimensional, and also rather challengingly unverifiable, given the primary data is unlabelled. That is, it’s still messy.

The outputs of machine learning algorithms often acknowledge this in some ways, because they are probabilistic. They cannot specify their blind spots, they don’t know what they don’t know — but they do give confidence estimates for their ability to classify each piece of content (with lower confidence in less familiar items), and express these classifications in probability terms (this meme is 70% likely to contain a cat, 15% a doge).

That is, the outputs of this digital analysis might be described as grey-scale.

That’s before we consider the ways in which forgetting is a cutting edge area of machine learning research. Natalie Fratto outlines three: Long-Term Short-Term Memory networks, Elastic Weight Compresssion, and Bottleneck Theory.
dust  digital  materiality  waste  archives  storage  decay  forgetting 
6 weeks ago by shannon_mattern
Snapchat’s decline and the secret joy of internet ghost towns - The Verge
The internet is full of consequences now because real life is full of consequences. The membrane between online and real life has long since dissolved. As Snapchat fades into irrelevance, it has less and less to do with our real lives, the ones that count and matter, the ones where we have to be accountable for each action and each sentence. These almost-gone spaces can feel like a party about how you’re leaving town in the morning, replete with a last-night-on-earth sort of permissiveness.
Snaphat  socialMedia  popularity  identity  digitalIdentity  privacy  retention  forgetting 
11 weeks ago by petej
Silicon Valley Can't Be Trusted With Our History
> A tweet that was meant to be forgotten within minutes resurfaces years later to cost someone their job, while a video providing unambiguous evidence of war crimes disappears without a trace. A handful of enormous tech companies curate the public library we conjure into existence every day, and they can and do delete it at a whim.

activists/archivists in syria and egypt creating non-corporate archives to document and preserve the memory of ongoing wars and protests.

"The very act of constructing an archive is a form of power"
archives  memory  forgetting  censorship  internet  free-internet  decentralized-internet  facebook  twitter  war 
may 2018 by tarakc02
Instant Recall — Real Life
"[T]he data homunculus can only reflect those aspects of yourself that are legible to the systems that seek to model you. The “you” reflected back is warped by the legibility of your behavior, and the interests and preconceptions of the model builders."
memory  internet  time  philosophy  forgetting 
february 2018 by antifuchs
Britain’s colonial crimes deserve a lasting memorial. Here’s why | Afua Hirsch | Opinion | The Guardian


Our nation must confront the inconvenient facts of its history rather than glorious versions of an imperial past. That’s why we need a museum of empire
Guardian  2017  history  empire  Britain  museum  forgetting  memory 
november 2017 by Preoccupations
On Unread Books
When you read certain neglected books, you realize you’re familiar with their contents because they have been read by others who have talked about them, quoted from them, or have moved in the same current of ideas.

An intriguing aspect of this book, which is less paradoxical than it might seem, is that we also forget a very large percentage of the books we have actually read, and indeed we build a sort of virtual picture of them that consists not so much of what they say but what they have conjured up in our mind.

Excerpted from Chronicles of a Liquid Society.
books  reading  umbertoeco  forgetting 
november 2017 by drmeme

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