Developments in technology have provided us with metaphors for our own memory. Computer memory and storage devices conjure an image of instant retrieval of precise and perfectly preserved information.
“For a number of scientists, the idea that memory is a recording device rests on an unrealistic fantasy of accuracy and permanence. Instead of practices that facilitated ‘reliving’ a permanent record, they sought out ways to reveal an ineradicable role of interpretation… in the construction of knowledge and memory.” Alison Winter — Memory: Fragments of a Modern History
But our own memories do not operate in this way. Forced to edit our experiences, we are better at forgetting than remembering. Rather than precise recollections we create associations (e.g. to other things, place, context, the Proustian madeleine) and then attempt to retrieve (at least partial) memories using these associations.
Context rather than raw processing power is the human way.
via Brain Pickings