Mixed Media Creative Essay

Social memory is an underlying topic that network Literacy positively influences. To begin with, the past can exist as personal memories and as a social construction, and conveys a connective structure to societies, groups and individuals socially. Jan Assmann the author of Communicative and Cultural Memory, states that, “Memory is what allows us to construe an image or narrative of the past and, by the same process, to develop an image and narrative of ourselves. It is here that allows human beings to orient themselves personally and collectively in terms of the future, the past, or both”. Following on from this, Adrian Miles states Networked Literacies are marked by your participation as a peer in these flows and networks – you contribute to them and in turn can share what others provide”. This quote connects to the statement of social memory, which will be explored throughout this piece.

Memory is about communication and social interaction. It was  Maurice Halbwach’s (sociologist and philosopher) great discovery that our memory depends on socialisation and communication, and that it can be analysed as a function of social life. It is known that the further one moves into the past, information becomes knowingly scarce and vague. This is how networked literacy helps this issue, as everything is recorded on the web. Social Memory is a “concept used by historians and others to explore the connection between social identity and historical memory. It asks how and why diverse people come to think of themselves as members of a group with a shared past” (Scott A. French). It puts emphasis on the social contexts where people have group identities and conflict perceptions on their past. “Social memory is the result of a blend between public and personal memorisation” (University Leiden). Individual lives are both from personal and social identity, where memories define us as individuals and collectives. “The individual consciousness by which we recognise ourselves as persons, and the collective consciousness by which groups identify and organise themselves and act with agency, arise from and are sustained by memory. Individual relationships to time and memory are highly subjective and individual. They are social, for the exercise of memory very often involves others” (Anthropological perspectives, 2002). An example of this is where, memories shared with others enables those who did not experience the events to include them among their memories.

For those who may ask what the connection between social memory and network literacy is, and how it relates to today’s society, you must first understand network literacy. Adrian Miles states that “Network literacy is, in a nutshell, being able to participate as a peer within the emerging knowledge networks that are now the product of the Internet, and to have as ‘deep’ an understanding of the logics or protocols of these networks as we do of print” (2007). The internet is a way for everyone to connect, for people to read, write and develop online relationships through the use of literacy. To be network literate, you need to be able to connect with individuals through the use of online resources, that all connect to one another. This relates back to tags and links. Everything joins up, links out to external sources, however everything is accessible and allows for interaction between online users. It is a way to connect to the past and future, a way to create memories, and we rely on the internet to discover information. Networking and the Internet is the way of the future, and people need to know what to use and how to use it. In class we all contribute to a blog. We post photos, videos, stories, and information on the web that allows the human memory to activate. Without us contributing there would not be as much emphasis around network literacy.  We blog, we share , and we contribute to the online world and the internet and society rely on this for a coherent space that allows people to interact, communicate, share and learn. Social Memory in network literacy, would affect how we make media, because however long society keeps changing so does the Internet. We create and provide what we need, and because of networking, social memories will benefit, as it has been recorded and documented. Social Memory influences the future of media, as we rely on memories for everyday practices. Below is an example of social memory from the television show ‘The Big Bang Theory’.

Museums and libraries are also now going online and this shows just how significant the change in media has become to create ways of being connected. An article called Information Literacy: The Changing Library by guest author Cushla Kapitzke, outlining how print literacy is the way of the past, everything is heading towards the online area of networked literacy. An example of this is Australia’s largest online Library that is now open for business from the 27th February. Developed by the National Library of Australia is ‘Libraries Australia’, a service that allows anyone with internet access to select from over 40million items from over 800 libraries across the nation. Jan Fullerton (National Library Director-General) says that “Libraries Australia changes the dynamics of the way people use libraries. Libraries have continually been at the forefront of technology to improve the way people find the information they need”. An example within this that relates to networking and a database is the way the technology and data is contributed from across multiple libraries, making it easy to search for information from the collections of public, research, government, arts and health. For examples on these, click on the follow images below.

Online Library

Online museum

A feature called “Social Cyborg” is a term that is used for people that have integrated social networks and information technology through the way they learn. It takes advantage of networked people and information systems. You need to think of the “Social Cyborg” as a human-computer that belongs to a social network. It is constantly connected to information, and memories, and has access to hundreds of documents that are in constant communication globally. To go back in history briefly the 1990‘s introduced the networked desktop that had the World Wide Web, where E-mail became a form of communication. It was here that the internet became a base for shared information globally. My generation is known as the ‘digital natives’, as we don’t know what it is like with no internet. In 2004 Facebook was created, and has millions of users. From the article ‘Dawn of the Social Cyborg’ by Joe Campell and William Finegan states, “As these technologies spread, people with access to them started spending increasing amounts of their time on computers and online—playing games, doing work, communicating with friends and colleagues via e-mail and text, and surfing the Internet. Experience of the world increasingly was mediated through technology. People with access to this technology, in particular those who grew up using it, were adapting their behaviour to take advantage of the new technologies and networks”. Social Cyborgs research problems through the social networks and information resources available to them. They filter through information with knowledge systems such as Wikipedia, and is distributed through technology and people.

It is all about the ability to connect with people, places, and organisations globally, to make communication easier, and information more accessible. Going into the future of media, it is important to have a way to communicate, and interact with the people around us. Through social memory, we contribute and share information that helps reinforce the notion that networking is the future and we rely on it everyday. Through networking it is important to share and contribute online, because without it, social memory would not be an easily accessible source. We post photos, videos, text, and so do other people. We are then able to share this, creating a web of links connecting various sources together. Having these webs is what enables us to trigger our memories whether communicative or collective.



Duncan J. Watts in his book ‘Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age’, reinforces the idea that everything and everyone is connected. An example that was used was a spider’s web. We all weave into each other, whether it be through friends or internationally. This reading started off with electric power. This is a highly important source that the world relies on, it is how we live. It is the backbone of the economy and of civilised life. It is the most essential feature of the modern world. From what we consume to what we do as a society, power is needed to function. Networks are continuously evolving and is a self-constituting system. There is a set of relationships between individuals, leading into the six degrees of separation. We all know someone who will know another person that will know someone else.

A statement from Ted Nelson reads as follows, “The Future is not what it used to be”. We are entering into a new age, where everything is online. The written word has changed dramatically, and society will change alongside this. It is said that offices will be paperless, and that the world is advancing into a place where hypertext and hypermedia are taking over. There will be no more print literacy. We are leading an open hypertext network. To sit back and think about what the future is going to be like, no one can tell exactly. Due to society being such a connected place, it is easy to see how network literacy greatly influences social memory, and allows us humans to revisit the past, and see into the future.

-Amy Ryan



Campbell, J and Finegan, W 2011, “Dawn of the Social Cyborg”, Training Magazine, September/October Issue.

French, S 1995, “What is Social Memory?”, Southern Cultures, Project Muse, Vol.2 No.1, The University of North Carolina Press.

Kapitzke, C 2001, “Information Literacy: The Changing Library”, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, International reading Association.

Miles, A 2007, “Networked Literacy: The Path to Knowledge”, Screen Australia, Autumn 45.

Olick, J and Robbins, J 1998, “From Collective Memory to the Historical Sociology of Mnemonic Practices”, Social Memory Studies, Columbia University, New York.

University Leiden, 2014, ‘The Tales of the Revolt’, last accessed 16th October 2014, (http://www.hum.leiden.edu/history/talesoftherevolt/approach/approach-1.html)

Watts, D 2003, “The Science of a Connected Age”, Six Degrees, W.W Norton & Company, New York.


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