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Memory Hacks

Memory Hacking is the title of a piece I wrote for FastCompany's #travelbrilliantly branded content series about the future of travel. 

In it I steal from Daniel Kahneman, and consider some of the broader implications of his thinking, fast and slow, and the TED talk above [which is wonderful] for how we think about, plan and experience travel. 

Our memories are slippery things.

The brain [well the conscious mind anyway] forgets, well, pretty much everything, except salient elements to the narratives it creates for us, but it creates an illusion of continuous verisimiltude.

This is similar to how our eyes seem like they are seeing a direct stream of reality, when really they are filtering out a lot of information, and filling in gaps. 

[One of the easiest ways to experience this visual filtering is to look into a mirror and then look from your left eye to your right eye and back again a few times.

You can feel you eyes are moving, and yet the eyes in the mirror don't move, because that movement is being filtered out.

It's creepy.] 

Further, each one is a continuously made recreation, as each engram is re-encoded every time we remember it.

Eidetic, or photographic, memories, sound like a super power, but is often described by those that have it as a blessing and curse - if everything is recalled, all the bad comes with the good, in HD.

This is cogntively analogous to the Facebook never forgets problem highlighted by Google's Eric Schmidt. He suggested that the internet needs a 'delete button' so that mistakes people make when they are young can't haunt them forever

Growing as person, in some sense, necessitates forgetting some aspects of who you were. 

Further, this week's inaugural Hippo Reads piece on HuffPo suggests that being able to deceive ourselves is a valuable life skill and indicator of success and happiness.

Dan Ariely has pointed out that creative people make better liars and cheaters in essence because they are able to re-write their own memories, twisting the 'facts' they remember into they narrative they require to justiy their actions ti themselves - another way of hacking your own memory.

Kahneman speaks of the 'tyranny of the remembering self', dividing our minds, metaphorically, into the one that experiences that present and the one that remembers things, because it's one that remembers things that makes decisions [and therefore the important aspect from an advertising point of view, as I suggested in my Google Think talk.]

You can read it over on Fast Company Creative Braintrust: Memory Hacking