Capturing Time


Salvador Dalí. (Spanish, 1904-1989). The Persistence of Memory. 1931. Oil on canvas, 9 1/2 x 13″ (24.1 x 33 cm). © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

As far as we are concerned, there is no stopping time as it ticks by and reminds us each passing year how quickly our lives traverse through the universe. Let us stop and think for a few seconds how much time has passed since:


  • The first beer was brewed (~6,000 BC)
  • The pyramids were starting to be built (2,667 BC)
  • The Cro-Magnon man walked the Earth (~30,000 BC)

What’s more is the ability to perceive our timelines in a matter of seconds — i.e. that the entire human history can be fathomed by us now in just a few thoughts. Some of the world’s most significant events can be summarized in a movie. Entire life stories can be played out in a graphic novel. Granted, we cannot capture every detail of a person in real time. But imagine implanting tiny video cameras into the center of our foreheads and capturing entire lifetimes on video. Would there be a purpose? Would families sit around the television and watch their passed loved ones’ first-person life movie? At this point in time, we cannot perceive a historical figure’s lifetime in real time. Even the best autobiographies cannot capture every vivid detail of an individual’s life. But if technology could potentially allow us to record our life journeys and play them back as we wished, whose autobiovideo would you watch? Would you record one yourself and for what purpose? But I digress…

It is intriguing how we perceive our history as human beings and what it means for our future offspring. The fact of the matter is, we live in the present and experience a limited window of time that we can use to learn as humans and understand the world in front of us. Although we have research, books, videos, photos, etc. to understand the past, there is still a limit in the parameter of time that dictates how much we can actually LIVE and explore the world in-person. I suppose that means we need to make the best of the time given to us.

However, there has been such a paradigm shift in terms of data collected by humans and media that we can now create (with ease) “recordings” of our memories. For example, your Facebook photos are going to be accessible to everyone from now until the end of humanity (if there is such an endpoint). Your descendants in the year 3,000 AD will probably look up your drunk tagged photos and wonder why exactly we were doing what we are doing in this millennium. The way we capture our memories now with a touch of a button is truly remarkable. Yet, it is a digital frontier that we have merely scraped.

Think about that as you post your next selfie.

This concept will be revisited in the future.



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