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“It is forgetting, not remembering, that is the essence of what makes us human. To make sense of the world, we must filter it. "To think," Borges writes, "is to forget.”
Joshua Foer, Moonwalking with Einstein
[The Skinny] a program I wrote in Python with graphics done in Illustrator
[When] Spring 2015
[Where] Carnegie Mellon
I'll start with this: the Memory Emporium (and its more sophisticated pseudonyms) is my pet project and therefore maybe a little bit too directly tied to my self worth.
That said, there is both a long and short version of this project page. The short version is that my junior year at Carnegie Mellon, I created a prototype of the Memory Emporium for my Term Project in Fundamentals of Programming. The program, written in Python and designed in Adobe Illustrator, allows users to enter text fragments into "memory pools" and to view fragments from previously created pools. The program was meant to visually and programmatically represent a version of Dumbledore's pensieve or Sherlock Holmes's memory palace. I would consider it a failure both in its demonstration of my capacities as a programmer and in its display of my skills as a designer. But it was certainly a learning experience. To stop with the short version, check out a clip of the Memory Emporium below:
A self analysis of the reasons for this project's failure amount mostly to a bad semester and to not enough help sought for the program's foundational implementation. But since that semester, I've been unable to let this idea fully die and have continued to conceive of new ideas involving what the Memory Emporium could one day be.
The explanation for my memory mania is two fold.
One, when I was very small, I was afraid to forget. It was my third biggest fear (behind bees and the concept of eternity as presented in Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting). To combat this fear, I developed techniques for remembering the more mundane moments of my daily life, I became extremely good at rote memorization, and I documented everything I could think of with diary entries and disposable cameras.
Though my fear of forgetting faded with time, I held onto a fascination for human memory recall. More specifically, a fascination for the fallibilities of the human brain and its simultaneous capacity to store and retrieve vast amounts of data. I also learned through pop culture and some recreational reading on the subject, that my childhood methods of recalling words, seating arrangements, and individual trips to the grocery store, were tied to ancient memory techniques that allowed philosophers and intellectuals from centuries past to memorize lengthy speeches and passages of text using a nifty little thing called a memory palace.
Two, I am a proud member of Generation Y. Not in the simplistic and over articulated sense that I am a "Millennial", but in the more complex sense that I (not unlike others my age) have been molded and modified by overstimulation, constantly evolving technology, and a self split between abstract and concrete spaces.