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Should we trust our digital memories ?


Remembering online : a long-term perspective


February 2019, Thursday 21st & Friday 22nd

Venue : Institut d’Etudes Avancées  

Hôtel de Lazun, 17 Quai d’Anjou, 75004 Paris




This conference’s aim is to bring attention to some issues connected with the creation and retrieval of autobiographical memories through social media and online personal archives, as well as through others services, like e-mail inboxes and instant messaging, which do not have specific memory features, but that can be used as well to browse and access information about one’s past.

We focus on how trust in digital memories is built, by tackling the question from two points of view :

1. A user’s perception of the use, destination, lifespan, and reliability of their personal digital memories created and collected by online platforms, apps and digital devices.

2. The trust we grant to our digital memories even when they are divergent from our biological memories.

The conference articulates the main question of trust in digital memories around the following topics :

Time : Can we define a specific social media temporality ? And how can we address issues connected with the duration of online personal memories over time ?

Identity : Which are the effects of experiencing one’s past through digital personal memories on personal identity and self-knowledge ?

Media and memory : Do social media, online databases and algorithmic systems create radically new ways of collecting and retrieving memories ?

Design : How media design can help users to manage their digital memories, making sense of them and trust them ?

Theories on autobiographical memory : In which way do new media modify the concept of memory itself and how do they shape theory on autobiographical memory ? How do we reconcile constructionist theories of biological autobiographical memory with the experience of “immutable” digitized memories ?

Life-writing : How does autobiography evolves in digital environments ? We explore this question through examples from life logging, weblogs, the quantified self and different forms of autobiographical online practices.

Data : when personal memories are stored as digital data and shared on online platforms, do individuals really own and control them ? How does the dispersion of personal data through platforms and devices affects the way individuals think about their past online selves ?

We adopt a long-term perspective which takes into account 1) the experience of posting contents on social media for more than a decade, and what that means in terms of accumulation of digital memories ; 2) the evolution and obsolescence of platforms ; 3) users’ migration from one platform to another with the consequent dispersion and/or reuse of their memories in different contexts online.

Contributions draw on theoretical and empirical accounts with an interdisciplinary approach, gathering researchers from different fields, such as philosophy, cognitive studies, media studies, human computer interaction and design studies.


Scientific Committee :

Gloria Origgi - Institut Jean Nicod, Paris

Roberto Casati - Institut Jean Nicod, Paris

José Van Dijck - Utrecht University

Jerôme Dokic - EHESS, Paris

Judith Simon - Hamburg University

Serena Ciranna - Institut Jean Nicod, Paris


Speakers :

1. Blanchette Jean-François ; Associate Professor of Informatics, Department of Information Studies - University of California, Los Angeles

2. Domenicucci, Jacopo – Ph.D Student in Philosophy, Université Paris 1, Sorbonne

3. Elsden, Chris ; Interaction Design Researcher - Northumbria University 

4. Gilliland, Anne ; Professor, Information Studies & Director, Center for Information as Evidence - University of California, Los Angeles

5. Gunthorun, Gudmundsdottir ; Professor in Comparative Literature - University of Iceland

6. Garde Hansen, Joanne ; Reader in Culture, Media and Communication,

Director Cultural & Media Policy Studies - University of Warwick

7. Hoskins, Andrew ; Interdisciplinary Research Professor in College of Social Sciences Global Security - University of Glasgow

8. Ibrahim, Yasmin ; Reader in International Business and Communications - Queen Mary, University of London

9. Kaun, Anne ; Associate Professor Senior Lecturer School of Culture and Education Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES) - University of Stockholm

10. Reading, Anna ; Professor of Culture and Creative Industries - King’s College London

11. Petrelli, Daniela ; Professor of Interaction Design - Sheffield Hallam University

12. Severo, Marta ; Associate Professor in Communication at the University of Paris Nanterre (Dicen laboratory) - Université Paris Nanterre

13. Van Den Hoven, Elise ; Professor in the School of Software, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology (FEIT) - University of Sidney

14. Stefana Broadbent : Lecturer in Digital Anthropology - University College London