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How good is your memory? I have at once an excellent and a terrible memory. In my work I deal with technical details, and have a strange capacity to remember very specific things years later, much to the surprise of my colleagues. However birthdays can come and go without ringing any kind of a bell.

I got to thinking about memories over the weekend. I recently aquired Adobe Lightroom, and have begun the onerous task of cataloging all our digital photos. We all take way too many photos don’t we? But how often do we sort them out? The great thing about digital photography is that you can happily snap away all day long, but it is so easy to copy the images across to the computer and then never do anything with them.

I am trying to be ruthless. If a picture has anyone in it I tend to keep it, but any photo that is mediocre is being deleted. Likewise if there are duplicates of the same subject/scene I’m picking the best and deleting the rest. Looking back through the old shots there have been quite a few that are not even in sharp focus, yet have remained of the hard disk for years.

So far I’ve sorted through all the photos from 2004, 2005 and most of 2006. It has been really lovely to see some old images that I didn’t even know I had. There were quite a few holiday shots, but since I’m unlikely to print them off or do anything with them, most have gone. Whilst sorting through the 2006 photos I came across a fairly dodgy looking picture of tiny veg in huge pots. I couldn’t understand why I had taken such an ugly looking shot. It was only later that I found a series of similar looking images showing the plants filling out and looking really well established. I had obviously decided to chart their progress through the year. It was nice to see them, but again they are not particularly attractive as images, so they have also been binned.

The quality of the photographs that we have taken has fortunately improved as the years have passed. But the amount of images taken has also increased dramatically, so I am not looking forward to going through the more recent years. Although I am sure that I’ll see some photos I had forgotten about that will bring back happy memories.

The British Library is at the forefront of collating the UK’s collective memories. In conjunction with the BBC they are recording ordinary conversations between people for The Listening Project. And they are also collecting the Sounds of our Shores with the National Trust, in which members of the public are encouraged to record video/audio clips in the 3 months from September. So if you are in the UK and near the coast do remember to make a clip

What about you? Do you ever look back through your old photos? Do you catalogue them? How do you manage your digital memories? How good is your memory?

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