Museums of the Future

After going to countless museums in the last month, I’m curious to see how future people document us with our digital lives encompassing massive amounts of data and spread out over so many different platforms. As I’ve reflected upon before, thanks to technology we have a reach now formerly reserved to only those in the highest positions:

“We can produce more effects in more than one place a time, each of us now having the global reach formerly reserved for kings, presidents, and movie stars” (page 72 from Present Shock).

We don’t even fully know what to keep and what to discard of our digital lives. We are like squirrels forgetting where we hid our acorns in the winter when you think about how many random online accounts we’ve created only to forget about them later. If we can’t keep up, how will those in the future sort through our digital belongings?

Will they walk through a social media museum showing constant streams of some of the millions of tweets that have been sent out by all of us? Will it wow or shock the attendees that humans could create so much content?

Will there be an exhibit examining how the “average” person tweeted vs a “celebrity”?

Will they have physical monuments made of hard drives representing how much data an average person created each year in the early 2000s?

Will they have an exhibit just showing videos of people staring at their phones? This is the most common position we imagine the average man spent hours a day in.

Will they have a map of a single person and the connections they have to people all over the world? This person was connected to 1,456 Facebook friends. They texted weekly with people in 10 different cities across 3 different continents. Despite the plethora of friends online, real life friends were limited to the barista at the local coffee shop and their coworkers at their office. 

Will they have an exhibit on eye tracking studies that show how scattered our attention span is jumping from one part of a page to another to a completely different tab? Will they have an interactive exhibit where folks can imagine sending a snapchat from one side of the room to another while browsing through a Facebook feed? Maybe they’ll have a virtual reality game where you can try to keep up with the amount of notifications the average person receives in this day and age.

I kind of wish this museum already existed – I think I’d go.


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