Google/Flickr Memory Maps: More Personal Geographies

The personal geography meme continues with the explosion of the MemoryMap pool on Flickr (invented by Matt Haughey), where people annotate Google Maps photos with their memories linked to places. Like the Billy maps in Family Circus (where Billy--represented by a dotted line--runs all over the neighborhood, his actions annotated by little notes), these maps represent compressions of time into space by way of memory. What's interesting to me is how they distort the actual time: most interesting things probably took place in a couple of places--your childhood home, your school--but you can only really put one annotation there. Thus, you get an interesting distortion where location doesn't necessarily correspond to prominence.

You can also see with this why memory palaces work: the emotional content in these geographically-linked memories is really strong, thus making the memories that much more vivid. And the overhead perspective keeps the image abstract enough that it doesn't spoil the memory with distracting detail of the current reality of a special place (such as, for example, my childhood home).

Oh, and of course nothing says you have to map real places in your memory maps, since your memory is still just as valid. When I say to Molly "Meet me by the apothecary in Ironforge" to Molly, we both know "where" that is, even though she's in London, I'm in Portland, and Ironforge is in Warcraft.

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I think i grew up not far from you.
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This page contains a single entry by Mike Kuniavsky published on April 10, 2005 8:44 AM.

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