Flashes, Camcorders, and Compulsive Documentation at the #Olympics

I think the strangest example of the need compulsive documentation is the compulsive need to photograph events that are definitely going to be documented anyway.

I think the strangest example of compulsive documentation is the bizarre need we feel to photograph events that are definitely going to be documented anyway. The athletes filming the Opening Ceremony from within the parade last week is a great example of this. I was very taken with this at the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Games and took a really bad photo of the athletes filming the crowd during that ceremony.

And I’ve noted this oddness before, when thousands took photos of the 2008 Presidential inauguration, Malia Obama among them. In these actions, (entirely superfluous in the age of the mass media), we see the audience authenticating their own experience. “I was there and I took my own pictures to prove it.”. It’s the digital equivalent of picking a pebble off a beach – banal in itself, but imbued with meaning and sentiment for the one who took it. Continue reading “Flashes, Camcorders, and Compulsive Documentation at the #Olympics”


Here I am, writing on my blog at 2:45am.

I’ve just read an interesting short blog post by Nicholas Carr on ‘Nowness’:

The Net’s bias, Gelernter explains, is toward the fresh, the new, the now. Nothing is left to ripen. History gets lost in the chatter. But, he suggests, we can correct that bias. We can turn the realtime stream into a “lifestream,” tended by historians, along which the past will crystallize into rich, digital deposits of knowledge.

I think this is why James Bridle’s Tweetbook appeals to me.  By pulling a large set of data into book form, James imposes a permanence on something that was previously transient.  I plan to recreate the project for my own tweets one day soon – Not to publish to the world, but a single copy for myself.  Twitter is a diary and it is upon diaries that some of the best history is derived.

I’ve found myself doing that with other creations too.  I have hundreds of digital photos sitting on my hard-drive, but I busied myself last weekend by printing out about five of them as 8″x5″ and putting them in nice frames.  I think that act of printing and fixing is an act of stepping out of the stream.  An act of stopping.  Only then can you look back, look forward, and perhaps, look properly inward, too.