As a kid it was always cool when rummaging through a grandparents back room, we would come across photos of them in their youth. Sometimes, if we were lucky, the year and the name of the person in the photo would be scribbled on the back. And although the photos were in black and white, faded by exposure and tattered around the edges they had the power to spark imagination of times long gone, and to connect us to our family members as they once were – children just like us.
I love the above picture of my Great Aunt Gena. I never met her, so I can’t say for certain, but I get the feeling she is the kind of person that would grab life by the balls and never let go. Not only is it objectively a great picture – the graceful divers, the shadowy other-worldly forms on the wall of the imposing lock, the other girls spaced evenly along the top as spectators – for me it speaks volumes about my family’s history, their adventurous spirit – it communicates with me. I feel lucky to have seen this picture. And I wonder what other stories and images I’m missing about my ancestors past that are lost forever.
Consequently I often think about the digital fingerprint that humans of our time will leave long after their passing. Detail about each of our lives, including our day to day activities, interests, thoughts and moods will be available to future generations if they care to look. Our bodies and minds may decay and pass away, but our ghost will remain in the machine.
Future generations will be able to rummage through our digital back room. And the images, videos and sound bites will be location stamped, organized in a timeline and presented in full color HD. So I find it worthwhile to think about this and take some time to figure out what it is you want to say to them. Whether you like it or not, your life will be communicated to future generations as long as humans exist. Embrace this as the gift that it is! We talk about the “luxuries” that our generation enjoys and takes for granted – the health, the education, the ability to travel, but these comforts are nothing compared to the power we have to convey information to the future. History was once written by the victors – it is now written by us all.