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The netlore of the infinite: death (and beyond) in the digital memory ecology

TitleThe netlore of the infinite: death (and beyond) in the digital memory ecology
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsLagerkvist, A
JournalNew Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia

In an era that celebrates instantaneity and hyper-connectivity, compulsions of networked individualism coexist with technological obsolescence, amounting to a sense of fragmentation and a heightened tension between remembering and forgetting. This article argues, however, that in our era of absolute presence, a netlore of the infinite is emerging, precisely in and through our digital memory practices. This is visible in the ubiquitous meaning-making practices of for instance personal digital archiving through the urges for self-perpetuation; it is evident at sites where the self may be saved for posterity; it is discernible in the techno-spiritual practices of directly speaking to the dead on digital memorials, as well as in the tendency among some users to regard the Internet itself as a manifestation of eternity, “heaven” and the sacred. This article shows that by approaching digital memory cultures existentially, and by attending to the complexities of digital time, we may gain insights into important and paradoxical aspects of our existential terrains of connectivity. This makes possible an exploration into how people navigate and create meaning in the digital memory ecology—in seeking to ground a sense of the eternal in the ephemeral.