Introductions: Thinking Piece

On Memory

tl;dr: Get oriented with the topic for this course by researching an aspect of ‘memory’ (as defined in any way you wish). Document and report your findings to the class and reflect on their implication for what and how we'll make.

Learning Objectives

As part of the exercise, students will:

  • build familiarity with memory and how it intersects with technology;
  • explore the notion of memory broadly by documenting it’s features and functions;
  • 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 own explorations;
  • reflect on how technology and memory are and will overlap and the challenges we should consider.


As part of this thinking piece, you’re asked to critically examine an aspect of memory you are personally interested in, that’s relevant to this course, and report it to the group.

Topics, are of your choosing and might include:

  • Research a theory, concept, feature, quirk, or phenomenon relating to human memory ;
  • How memory is working changing or transforming through technologies;
  • A context of memory - organizational memory, cultural memory, material cultures, etc.; and
  • History of (digital) memory.
  • Etc.

They should be ideas that you haven’t encountered before, are relevant to the course and you find particularly interesting or exciting. The emphasis here is on discovery. Writing about concept you already know intimately defeats the point of the assignment, which is to deepen your familiarity with the field.


Add your Thinking Piece to the #thinkingpieces as a new post on slack (see below).

This post should contain a essay (750 words) on a topic of your choosing. This should a) introduce the topic you have chosen, b) raise questions and provocations, and C) provide a critical reflection or perspective on the topic.

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.


As part of thinking pieces, students will identify an open question or challenge posed in developing responsive technologies within the scope of the themes or projects assigned 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.

Submitting your work:

You’ll submit your work on Slack. As a new post:

  • Open Slack and navigate to the #thinkingpieces channel
  • In the text box (bottom), click the + on the left hand side. Choose the option to ‘Create a new post’
  • In the post editor, give the case study and appropriate title.
  • Add your narrative to the body of the post.
  • When you have added your post, click the Share button on the top right.

Important: the hashtag will be used to automatically check you have made the required posts for each module. If you forget to include it you won’t get a grade for the post.

Starting points

There are many interesting aspects to memory. This is your chance to explore one or more of them in a little depth. What you choose to explore is entirely up to you. You can interpret memory as broadly as you like and you can approach this exercise in multiple ways. You might for example,

  • investigate foundational concepts and theories about memory
  • investigate a feature/quirk of memory like Flashbulb memory - the phenomenon where some memories can be recalled in vivid detail because of their significance, consolidation - the process that maintains, strengthen and modify memories in the long-term memory , or earworms - why we get songs stuck in our head;
  • an experiment/method that has lead to ways to understand, test and evaluate memory (and how they work) like CRAM used to test recollections of past episodes (or Brewer’s original beeper study that inspired it)
  • investigate a question you find interesting about memory like ‘why do we forget some things and remember others’? or ‘what would it be like to remember everything’, ‘what can trigger a memory?’, or ‘why do we get nostalgic?’
  • investigate the relationship of the quantified self movement to digital memories
  • investigate tools or technologies for capturing experience like the SenseCam, Vicon Revue or Autographer
  • how memory prosethics like, BodyCams. are changing testimony and justice.

Regardless of your approach. You should:

  • Read and review articles, papers, and other sources i.e. do good research!
  • Inquire into new areas.
  • Be rigorous and systematic; and
  • document your findings as you go.

Then, share your discoveries with the group by reporting your findings in a 1-page summary incl. sources.

A starting point: This article on brainpickings is a good starting point to prime you on the basics of how memory works and the Guardian maintains a section of interesting and though-provoking articles on neuroscience, psychology and memory that might help point you in interesting directions.

Reflection on your findings

Reflect on the outcomes of your research.

  • What are interesting theories, technologies or territories for us to explore?
  • What are the challenges or opportunities that lie in the concepts and examples you’ve surfaced?

Come up with a series of questions and problem statements related to the idea of creating prosthetic technologies for human memory, capturing and representing experiences digitially, or networking, connecting or distributing memories.

Resources and Sources

Brewer WF (1988) Memory of randomly sampled autobiographical events. In: Neisser U, Winograd E, editors. Remembering reconsidered: Ecological and traditional approaches to the study of memory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp 21–89.

See Library Section of course Website.