In the moment or photos forever MAY 05 2008
Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen occasionally asks his readers to suggest topics for him to write about. Stump the polymath, as it were. I posted a suggestion that I'd been wondering about recently:
Is taking a photo or video of an event for later viewing worth it, even if it means more or less missing the event in realtime? What's better, a lifetime of mediated viewing of my son's first steps or a one-time in-person viewing?
and he answered it today:
If you take photos you will remember the event more vividly, if only because you have to stop and notice it. The fact that your memories will in part be "false" or constructed is besides the point; they'll probably be false anyway. In other words, there's no such thing as the "one-time in-person viewing," it is all mediated viewing, one way or the other. Daniel Gilbert's book on memory is the key source here.
I take a lot less photos than I used to -- even though cameras are easier to use and carry around than ever -- and prefer to experience the moment rather than fiddle with the camera. But that seems to swim against tide these days...camera irises seemingly outnumber real ones at photo-worthy events and places.