To remember is to be. On a personal level, memory feeds the consciousness and shapes our perception of both the self and the world. But this works the other way around too. The way we memorize things is not independent to our perception of ourselves and of the world, at that given time. Remembering and memorizing is a dynamical and bidirectional procedure.
Our memories are not always completely real or based on facts . As an example given, my childhood memories of the smell of my favorite lunch meal my mother used to cook, of the hot summer noons and of the sweet fatigue after swimming in the sea may become a memory of me (being a kid) lay down in a dark relatively cool room, a hot summer noon ready to have a nap after i had returned from the beach and had eaten my favorite lunch meal. These things may never have happened all together in the same time frame. On the other hand, whatever survives in memory is true. In greek the world true (α~ληθές) literally means unforgettable.
Memory keeps as grounded. Help us not being lost. Gives us a sense of continuity. As in ship navigation. If you can’t remember (or you don’t know) where you started the trip you can neither know where you are nor find where your destination is located. And although memory is something we consider past-orientated, it is a pool for the imagination as well. The parts of brain that are highly activated when someone tries to imagine the future are the very same parts that are fired up when he/she tries to recall the past.
In a broader panhuman level, one can say that history is the common memory, or at least a part of that common memory, the part we are aware of. Historic time, by definition, refers to the period of humanity that there are written (in first place, documented in general) evidence for. Meaning that history exist since the first written marks existed and expands with geometrical progress as the means of documentation evolve. So in first place, history was written by only a few -the priests, those who held the secret of writing- but as time goes, more and more were able to contribute in documenting history. The democratization of the alphabet by the Greeks, the invention of typography by the Chinese and its migration to Europe with Gutenberg’s printing press etc. Of course, apart of writing, several means of documentation have emerged during centuries. Painting, sculpture, photography, audio recording, video recording are some. Many of these are hard to master for the average people (i.e painting & sculpture) but also many are in the reach of most of us, especially last decades (i.e photography, video & audio recording).
So every manuscript written, every book printed, every photo taken, all are part of history. The tricky thing here is who and by what criteria decides what will be included in “official” human history -and thus our collective memory, that defines and influences us, our decisions and our actions- and what stays out. And even further, as more and more documents (words, videos, photos, audio) exist only in digital format (no hard copies but thin air of 0s & 1s), that are usually accessible through the net, how is secured that they are not manipulated - altered in any way and for any reason? Of course this kind of questions have arisen and had a solid base in the past too, but in our days this problem emerges more dynamically than ever before.
G. Orwell wrote in his famous dystopia novel 1984: “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.” The regime in “1984” had set a full scale mechanism with thousands of public servants that rearranged, rewrote - forged, and destroyed all kinds of documentation, in order to reshape the past so it would fit the present and thus to strengthen the faith of the people to the State, at that present time, to the future and for ever (a kind of an “End of History”) with no questioning its omniscience.
In our days the foundation (the infrastructure) for this kind of massive manipulation and large scale communication of documentation and information exists and evolves (the means of mass communication but mostly the Internet, the social media and the upcoming cloud computing). And although is broadly accepted that the Net gave power and freedom to the people to express thoughts and opinions or to communicate facts otherwise filtered by the maistream media, its democratic and/or anarchic nature is not to take for granted. Thoughts on controlling the net and applying rules to it, as a matter of security, have already been around. We can not ignore that the traditional media (press, radio, tv) had also given more power and freedom to the people, but in time they became more and more part of the establishment in a way or an other. It also can be noticed that the “bigger” the source (e.g nowdays CNN, or what wikipedia could be in a dark future) the more the people are attracted to believe and to re-transmit the info. And as more and more people are attracted and believe and re-transmit the info from a source, the more powerful that source becomes and so on. As if the public trust in a source of info is under the influence of a gravitational kind of power. But who does control that kind of power, and furthermore who does question it?
This is just my point of view, an opinion, a thought.