Memories of the Future

The Memories of the Future team. Photograph: Samantha Gallagher

The Memories of the Future team. Photograph: Samantha Gallagher

This week sees the start of a mini-festival called Memories of the Future which explores the increasingly blurred lines between analogue and digital culture with a particular focus on music, moving image, photography and the written word. Organiser Kirsty Fox said: “All of these areas face rapid changes in how they’re made and how we consume them as we move into the digital age. Yet all have a rich history in different traditional formats that people are very attached to, from the traditionally-made book, to vinyl and cassette tape, to analogue photography and 16mm film. We don’t see this as the old versus the new. Rather we hope to explore the best of both and how they can still co-exist and actually help each other.”

The themes for this festival seem particularly prescient at the moment. Jon McGregor, the Patron of the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, has tried to live the past year without email, and has just published the first issue of a new literary journal called, the Letters Page, which only accepts hand-written submissions. However – and without any sense of irony – this is published electronically as a PDF. But there is method to the madness. A letter requires time and thought and is a very personal communication. “Letters even when sent by return of post, always give you time to reconsider. The inbuilt delay of the postal network reintroduces patience to a correspondence. A letter always comes from the past, from elsewhere, rather than from the ever-insistent here and now of the digital. Thinking about writing a letter is different from thinking about writing an email,” wrote Jon. The edited journal on the other hand has the objective of reaching the largest possible audience and thus must shed its Gutenberg chrysalis and grow digital wings. Marshall McLuhan would be proud.

dawn unreadElsewhere an alarming study by the National Literacy Trust claimed that books are deemed a thing of the past by a YouTube generation of readers. They found that the number of children reading outside of school had dropped by 25% since 2005. Jonathan Douglas, the director of the National Literacy Trust, said in The Guardian: “There’s a really strong relationship between literacy – reading and writing – and social outcomes, whether it’s earnings, home ownership, voting, or a sense of trust in society. If children are not practising reading, they will miss out.”

Finding engaging reading materials is a particular problem for boys. The survey of 34,910 young people found that 35% of boys agreed with the statement that “I cannot find things to read that interest me,” compared with 26% of girls. Statistics like this worry me and are one of the many factors driving Dawn of the Unread. It is my hope that we can use the interactive elements of digital technology to create an interest in local literary figures and in turn reading. I’ll be giving a talk about this on Wednesday 9 October as part of Memories of the Future at The Corner, 8 Stoney Street, Nottingham, NG1 1LH

For more info on other literature events going on in Nottingham this week

One thought on “Memories of the Future

  1. Pingback: Tight budget? Ambitious project? Trust students from your local university… | Dawn of the Unread

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