My father passed away last week. He was 87, left an amazing legacy that has touched thousands and died peacefully with great dignity.
In preparing to celebrate his life and achievements, my siblings and I combed through files, opened countless drawers, stood on chairs to get to high shelves and basically left no nook or cranny unexplored as we curated the physical time line of his life.
We sorted hard copy pictures and created a narrative around them; we read through old letters and did our best to puzzle out meaning and fill in the blanks; we examined mementos and held them... feeling the energy that still existed from his personal and intimate contact; and we read press clippings and imagined ourselves reading them "in the day" with all the excitement and emotion of real time.
And we learned... we learned a lot about his life: his hopes and dreams and fears... and the times....
Here is what struck me: there is a growing obsession about leaving a seriously long-tailed trail after death online. An un-erasable record of who we are, what we have done and more - what we have accomplished.
My father was not digital -- he didn't own a computer -- and, yes, you can find all kinds of archived references to him online -- but his life was always analog, plain and simple.
Yet analog or not his legacy, combined with the actual stuff he saved and we curated, leaves a bigger, more emotional trail than following down endless posts and tweets. I'd argue that it's richer, deeper and more connected and connecting.
Bottom line: It is not about analog vs. digital, another useless argument that seems to surface whenever anyone questions Digibabble ideology.
In fact, I'd argue that a digital record is a wonderful way to store data -- but that for warmth and real human insight nothing beats a shoebox of real things, the stuff that memories are made from.
Retail is finally turning the digibabble corner as is broadcast -- memories, though, are a corner you can and should turn into on your own... so keep that shoebox handy.
"We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory."
- Henri Cartier-Bresson
And there you have it: Legacy will always be a physical manifestation of memory -- and remember, no matter how many tweets you tweet or texts you text -- the best always take you to a place in your real shoebox....