TED Conversations

Oliver Brunt

Industrial Design Student - Final Year, Northumbria University

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Is there a future for family heirlooms and physical memories?

With the age of the internet in full swing, what is the future of family heirlooms and physical memories. We all know fewer photographs get printed every day, they stay as data for years on end. This is not a totally negative thing, but what happens to the objects and memories we have collected over our lives.

Tactile interaction with an object can conjure so many emotions an image simply can't. I fear in the future we may literally lose touch with these objects as more memories and events become digital.

What are your thoughts TED?

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  • Nov 14 2013: At the risk of sounding too harsh, it is perhaps our gripped emotional attachment with historical traditions that is responsible for the current global state of affairs and conditions. It is perhaps our obsession with emotional memories, both good & bad, that traps us and prevents us from seeing what truly IS in the here and now......which is the only thing that exists. We can be fearful of rejecting traditions, whether gently or harshly, because it is memories that our identity is largely based on. Great question, you pose. Great day to you :-)
    • Nov 15 2013: Thats a sounds argument, I do believe that to be true in many cases. Perhaps many large institutions do hold too much onto past ideals and outdated traditions - economics, paper money, politics even, are all incredibly ancient things.

      My argument however is a little closer to home. You're completely right about how we may attach too much emphasis on historical traditions and holding onto too many memories. I'm think I'm trying to ascertain the future model of passing on specific key memories through a family rather than an entire life's worth - through design. I believe there are certain key moments in people's lives that define them, define their future, have some bearing on how they raise their children. I fear we may be losing this connection of genuine 'lineage', knowing where you came from.

      Again thank you for your response, damn good argument!
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    Nov 14 2013: The emotional impact of seeing and holding these objects connected with memories is so apparent that I don't think people will ever lose their appreciation for cherished symbols of the past.
    • Nov 14 2013: Thank you for your reply Fritzie, I'm hoping you're right.

      I fear in the future (10years+) that with younger generations born into a totally connected online world, with more throw away products being used in our society, there might be fewer physical objects to appreciate and cherish. Only a theory. (I do hope I'm wrong)

      But again thank you for your reply.
  • Nov 18 2013: Holding something my ancestors held brings me a lot closer to them and does bring up questions about them that a computer image could not bring up. My son does not have that same feeling but my daughter does.
    • Nov 19 2013: Thats a very personal and honest answer thank you.

      Because everyone is unique and everyone's situation is different, its hard for everyone to understand how important your past can be. I don't mean we should always be looking backwards though.

      Again thank you.
  • Nov 17 2013: All people are not the same Depends on the person.
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    Nov 15 2013: I was just watching a documentary about Spencer House and the Earl that owns it. He knows every piece and every painting and who the paintings are.

    My people are from very limited means, and I have a little bowl that was my grandmothers.

    Somethings electronic media cannot and will never replace.
    • Nov 18 2013: I hope your last statement to be true, I just fear for very young generations, as a whole, might lose touch with this knowledge and history.

      Everyone is different and many young children do love history, going to museums and watching documentaries, which I think is fantastic. I just have a theory that this love of the past will become less and less as time goes on

      Thank you for your reply.
  • Nov 25 2013: Anyone else have any further thoughts?