My own memories are served well by Apple Photo’s Memories function - they’re good at surfacing things that happened years ago. But they’re mostly confined to me, and they rely on whatever photos I’ve put into the database. Pretty much anything before 2000 is too analog to be given this treatment.
And who would take over my database when I’m gone? In some ways it’s easier to keep one of my grandparents’ photo albums, but even if I can see the photos I have little knowledge about the people in the pictures and why my grandparents decided to keep the photo. Either way, most of a life is irrevocably lost when someone dies, and most of what’s kept alive by friends and family is lost a generation or two later.
This may sound sad, but we can’t spend our lives keeping all the memories of past generations alive - we’d never do anything ourselves. I suppose one way to view it is that the past generations’ experiences are distilled into our culture, and the best way to honor them and keep their legacy alive is to continue trying to doing our best; our values and goals are in a sense the result of the culture we’ve grown up in, and as long as we do what we consider is right we’ll honor them even after they’re long gone and forgotten.
In moving back to work and emptying my home office, I’ve been struck at how my books, CDs, DVDs, video games are all physical artefacts from a particular pre-streaming age… So I have little from the past few years, despite having experienced a lot of culture I imagine this is common? Do folks buy so many paper books? Records?
I feel obliged to share the counter point to this. I’ve never had a place that I could call my own for any long amount of time (more than a year or two). In fact, a lot of the possessions I maintain are the things that I was able to grab and carry on my back at the last moment. I’m so glad that I never had to decide if I could grab the photo album or not, because one day I might not be able to and those memories are gone forever.