Implanting Memories in Museums.

I have a lot of stupid ideas, i’m the first to admit that.  This is probably one of the more stupid but does have some grounding in reality so thought I would share with you.

Keen to find out more about wearable technology I’ve started reading Wearing embodied emotions: A Practice Based Design Research on WearableTechnology   I’ve got a feeling that I’m probably  the only person that has bought this book.   I am  glad I did buy it.  It is really fascinating, covering  past and present Research in how wearable technology can be used as a Human Computer interface and how the sensors and actuators can alter the way we perceive and interact with the environment around us. I actually bought this book almost by accident.  After searching Amazon for books on wearable technology really to see what was available, I was going to buy Smart Clothes and Wearable Technology  but  £149 would buy me a lot of conductive thread and LEDs so gave that one a miss.

Because wearables are physical devices and objects  that we interact with through their physicality rather than a screen the book is also really interesting from a museum point of view.  A lot of my  work at the museum is around connecting people with objects, many of which they have never seen or used before so visitors can understand better how or why an object is significant,what it does or how it works.

Any way back to what I was saying.  There is one sentence in the book that I was reading on my way home from work on last Friday Evening.

“Although an emotion is derived by social interaction or memory , a physical object can also trigger emotions due to its form,colour,efficiency or behaviour towards its user.”

I’m not sure if I was not exactly concentrating fully, if it was because I was tired  or  my mind was wandering but  on reading that sentence three  thoughts that flashed into my head in quick succession.

The first thought  was that the most important thing to do when working with wearable technology or in my Museum New media role is to think of how  the objects can trigger emotions.

The next thought that followed that was well thats achievable for the the wearable stuff.  I am already working with a project designed to encourage some form of social interaction.   But how would I be able to the same  in the museum?

The third thought that entered my head was the really stupid one.  “Wouldn’t it be great if I could  just implant memories into people’s heads of them interacting with objects”.  Being able to do that would be brilliant, visitors to museums would have memories of using objects. They could remember what it would be like to work in an 18th Century factory or be at CERN when the Higgs Boson was discovered.

If I thought it was totally impossible I would have left it there but I vaguely remembered reading something recently about implanting memories recently.  I was right, Scientists have implanted memory into mouse brains  (Yay for Science).

I know what you are thinking.  Implanting memories into peoples brains in a museum is a stupid idea (We agree on that, good), what the Scientists have done is nothing like what you are proposing.  I know that and I also know the Scientists aren’t just screwing around with the mice for shits and giggles.  What they are doing is proper research that may one day lead to a better understanding of the human brain.   

I’m also aware that if New media Engineers were allowed to mess around with people’s brains  things could go horribly wrong. Hopefully if it did become possible there would be good laws against it or it would be controlled to ensure it was done properly.

Another thing you might be thinking is that the mouse experiment is nothing like making people think they were an egyptian queen or survived the sinking of the Titanic so there is nothing to worry about.  I’m not a gambling person but I wouldn’t bet against something like that being possible one day, I know  if I can think this up other people can and actually already have .

Eventually the Science and technology will catch up with the ideas,the time will come that you will have to ask yourself did you actually read  this blog post or  was the memory of reading it implanted?

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