Memory Loss

Losing My MindI’ve always prided myself on having a good memory. I might be able to recall a date when or where something happened. But lately, I’ve been scrutinising my memory and I realise a lot of what I have are mere superficial memories. Often, I only have the belief that I have a memory of an occasion, but when I attempt to recall the details, I cannot.

I was trying to recall the details of a residential training course I attended in 1995. I cannot recall the names of the people I was with. I cannot remember where or what we ate at meal times. I have a few cameo memories of the training and a foggy recollection of walking around a few bars one evening. I cast my mind forward a few months to a holiday in Blackpool. Except for a few cameo memories, here and there, the details of the holiday have gone. So, I’ve tried to recall more and more memories of events and I’m finding a similar pattern.

Why do we remember some things but forget other stuff? I suppose it’s natural for most people to forget mundane stuff, like a meal, although it’s often detail like this that I remember; I often remember the insignificant detail of a significant event but forget the significant detail. If a minor event occurs but you don’t recall it again quickly or regularly, it is gone forever. But if two similar events occur at around the same time, it’s possible for one memory to partially record over another. Even seeing photographs of a place or hearing stories of an event may confuse memories and even create false ones, for example, seeing a photograph of a street 15 years ago, may create an artificial memory in the mind that the street was actually physically visited. This is why Police take statements straight after a situation occurs before the mind has time to write false memories. This is also why it is best to write a daily diary rather than writing accounts/memoirs years later.

But, as already touched upon in the first paragraph, I feel the biggest loss of memory of significant and semi-significant events is the belief that the memory is there without actually ever recalling the details. I suppose it’s a bit like seeing a DVD case on the shelf and feeling assured that you have the disc, but when you decide to actually play the disc, realise that the case is empty.

I guess most people are not particularly concerned about losing memories. Indeed, some will say that they were there when the event occurred and that’s all that matters, even if they cannot remember the details. But I find it quite frightening how memories of experiences vanish as if they never even happened in the first place. However, I prefer a total loss of a memory than a near total loss of a memory. I find it very frustrating and suffocating, like trying to save a disappearing hand in the quicksand, when trying to recall a memory but only being able to latch on to split-second recall; not enough to positively identify the memory and attach it to the event that’s trying to be recalled. These split-second recalls are particularly easy to confuse with dreams, photos, and accounts written or narrated by others.

The only way to stem the loss of memories is to make a daily visual or written diary. This is obvious. Facebook with ‘on this day’ may aid memory recall also. Analysing saved receipts can also piece together series of events.

Hopefully, all of our memories are still there and something will be developed one day to retrieve them all. I never heard my Nan speak French, but after she suffered a transient stroke at the age of 97, she began singing in French. So maybe we never lose our memories even if we can’t retrieve them.

Family Tree Update

Family TreeLast night I updated my Swinton People and Sepulchra projects; the update being that static thumbnail images were removed. This allows for quicker updates.

I’ve toyed with the idea of returning to PHP MySQL genealogical scripts but I find it harder to lock them down from potential hackers (and they aren’t easy for less savvy Internet users). The current HTML designs aren’t as dynamic and are slower to update but are easier to secure. But, the next major update that I have planned is to publicly publish the entirety of my family tree on my website without the need to register. What do my relations think of this? Living individuals wouldn’t be included and neither would media (like Swinton People and Sepulchra). I’ve generally made access to my family tree difficult in the past; being particularly worried that people might copy data etc without getting in touch and hoping/expecting that the promise of additional access through registration might stimulate interest/interaction. But I did find that from the introduction of and Geni trees, interaction with my family tree almost ground to a halt. I would expect that if I publicly publish more information, a greater number of relations would get in touch due to it being easier for them to establish connections (although I would also expect a greater number of people to view the information and still not make contact!). The additional public information should also draw people in through the Search Engines (through additional names, relationships and residences appearing in Internet searches etc). As mentioned earlier, it is much quicker for me to update my websites by excluding media (less than one hour without media as opposed to up to five hours with media, per website) but another factor that I’m taking into consideration is that the Ancestry/Geni trees are proliferating the unauthorised publication/sharing of media. I would propose to continue sharing copies of media with relations with whom have done likewise with me (trusted relations), but limit it to people who have no media to share (or unwilling to share (or likely to share on generally public websites)) in the form of embedded media in good quality genealogical reports. Any thoughts from people regarding this; the public publication of all data pertaining to deceased relations (as opposed to guarded/restricted access)? So many people have already publicly published data in the Ancestry/Geni trees, it’s as though I’m playing catchup, but the fact that my data would not be confined within the walls of Ancestry/Geni, should hopefully give me a slight edge? From my own experience, if I have to personally contact somebody in order to establish a genealogical connection, I generally don’t bother unless I’m almost 100% certain of relationship. The problem, I feel with my own family tree website, over the last few years, is that it has made it very difficult for potential relations to ascertain a connection without the need for emailing or registering etc. Currently, my family tree offering is just of my Molleken ancestry which is neglecting (approximately 80%) of the rest of my family tree. Plus, is life too short to worry about people pinching a bit of data when in return I might make contact with many more relations (over 100 around the globe already since the first publication of my restricted family tree, ten years ago)?

Launch of WEEK 42

WEEK 42 is the latest and hopefully the last in a long line of blogs that I’ve published. I started blogging in 2008, using the self hosted version of WordPress (.org). The hassle of hosting this and maintaining the security etc. influenced my decision to abandon it. I then began experimenting with the blog hosted by Blogspot/Blogger. Due to persistent (over two years) problems with the indexation of the blog posts by the internal Google crawler, I have abandoned Blogspot/Blogger and opted for the WordPress (.com) platform.

Anyway, please feel free to follow this blog or comment on any of the posts.