Memory and Database

Monday, November 20, 2006

Early Traces of Memory

Memory can be regarded as a filter (as are our five senses)– it is a device implanted for our survival.

Artificial memory systems have been around for centuries:

"mnemo-technics" - the process or technique of improving or developing the memory.

Early Greeks:
perfected a system of memory that used the mental imprinting of any objects or key points to be remembered onto specific locations along a pathway previously memorized from an actual temple. To recall the points in their proper order, one simply had to take the walk through the temple in one's mind, observing the contents left at each location along the way.

Giulio Camillo created a "Memory Theater" in Italy in the early 1500's.






It is explicitly referred to as a Memory system of the traditional kind, but breaks all kinds of rules.
It reverses the purpose of a theater: the spectator stands on stage and views the seats. An odd choice, since a theater is a repetitive space.
Several images are repeated, but their position is changed to mean something else. The same image can stand for several things
It was a real space: a small wooden theatre, with manuscripts and notes stuffed in the various seats. Is this still memory in the classical rhetorical sense?
Why did Camillo insist on building a memory system? Especially a permanent memory system?
A question Yates does not address: was this theatre intended to be used by anyone? If so, it is the first attempt to generalize a memory system, and to use it to store up ancient learning in an accessible form separate from books.



http://kelty.rice.edu/375/lectures/camillo0212.html

The New Media Reader, "Will there be Condominiums in Data Space?"

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