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What can we do with the memory of Funes?

When I am browsing on many websites and social media, I often forgot how many hours I keep doing that. It is already around 2~3am when I am aware of that I wasted so much time on it. It is certain that I read more than a couple of thousand words. But if someone ask me to represent a line from what I saw on the web, I couldn’t do that. Because, I’m not thinking about what I encounter in order to make it my own knowledge. That’s why we call if as an internet ‘surfing.’ There are incredible amounts of information on the internet like a tsunami, and its massive volume makes me just float on it, not reaching deeply.

The same thing happens in Jorge Luis Borges‘s short story “Funes, the Memorious,” As regards narration, Funes becomes to possess a speciality of unlimited memory after an unexpected fall accident. “Without effort, he had learned English, French, Portu- guese, Latin. I suspect, nevertheless, that he was not very capable of thought. To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details.” The only common thing between the internet and Ireneo is that most of things in memory is just a series of words without meaning.
Recently, we can frequently hear the term, ‘Big Data’. As the next issue in technical business, many IT companies are carefully reaching their arms in order to get priority. It somewhat reminds me the Gold Rush. Meantime, Some experts and journalists alerts that big data itself is not a big deal, but how to pick out the useful information among garbage data. If Funes knows this way to deal with his memory, he would not have to live hiding in the dark. Maybe, he could be the best contributor all over the world. Borges seems, through this story, to give us the question what can we do with big data rather than internet surfing in the close future.

4 comments to What can we do with the memory of Funes?

  • Harry (Chiu-Hao) Chen

    Although I haven’t read Funes’ novel, I am always amazed about the story that can make people enhance their memory. It’s amazing to get information as much as you can, however, the question is what amount you need? whether you need something that you may not use for a whole life? The answer is vague for me, as a man desires to know every new stuff, I am always seeking a way to sort my own raw data into a useful data set that I can retrieve easily. But it turns out that the input data is increasing enormously than I can sort, manage and store it. Therefore, I tend to not getting (raw) data that much but store them neatly as well as retrieve it efficiently. I am still no idea to solve the data overwhelming problem but the start point may be to decrease the amount of data that I put in my head.

  • Allison Burtch

    “It is certain that I read more than a couple of thousand words. But if someone ask me to represent a line from what I saw on the web, I couldn’t do that.”

    This is why I think tumblr, or those who tumble (is that how you say it?) often, is fascinating. Active tumblrers (sp?) are constantly in this mattern of consumption and creation. It is for some, this habitual recreation of the self, almost as if “i tumblr therefore I am.” One of my favorite theorists (who happens to be a performance studies Ph.D candidate at NYU, said this about tumblr: “it is only through hysterical posting that the feminist self is composed and assembled.”

    I’ve personally become much more dissatisfied by many forms of social media as of late. I’ve been frequently deactivating my facebook account only to come back to…nothing. Nothing changed. All of the links and cool articles and whatever meaningful interaction I thought I had has become much less apparent. But then again, one could probably blame facebook’s algorithm for that.

    I also wonder if mindless searching is actually affecting our memories. Out of all the time spent online, how much of it is activating parts of our brain that affect memory. So much of it is ill-spent. But, I digress.

  • Jess

    I have little bit different opinion with your conclusion about decreasing the amount of data. I believe the thing is how can we use that data, not how much data we can collect. As I cited, Funes just remember every detail without using it. “He was almost incapable of general, platonic ideas.” Platonic thinking is based on continuous observation and questioning in self-consciousness about a subject. In doing so, things that was just a piece of data can be my own knowledge. Reducing input data could be a good discipline, but if we don’t go through this platonic thinking process, we can’t get any words from it.

  • Jess

    Thanks to you, I’m getting curious how different tumblr is from other blogging platform or social media for self recording, I never do it so far though. (I should start:)!) I often feel the same way with you when I mingle in facebook or something like that. Actually, we create too much private information(mostly garbage) second by second. It could nave a meaning for ourselves at the time we do that, but these kinds of data are already accumulated over and over and finally buried forever. In this story, narrator said,”It occurred to me that each one of my words (each one of my gestures) would live on in his implacable memory; I was benumbed by the fear of multiplying superfluous gestures.” I also feel not good because I’m throwing away my worthless everyday life in this infinite web space at this moment. As Viktor Mayer-Schönberger said in “Delete,” I want to put expiration dates on all of my tweets, posts, and pictures I upload on the internet.