People collectively “remember” and “forget”: “Das Gedächtnis entsteht nicht nur in, sondern vor allem zwischen den Menschen“ (Assmann). A communicative memory is not a self- contained, but a relationship based entity. Communicative memory is defined as recollections and life experiences – which have personal value and affective significance – of living generations that are shared and discussed in informal oral day-to-day communication – especially within social networks these days. Because of its informal
structure the communicative memory is not stable.
Unsere Erinnerungen sind alles andere als zuverlässig. Sie sind kein exakter Spiegel
eines vormaligen Geschehens, sondern immer schon gebrochen durch die
Beschränkungen unserer Perspektive, unserer Wahrnehmung, unserer Bedürfnisse und
Reconstructing memory is always an approximative process that ultimately depends on the constitutions of framing groups and individuals. Thus, memories are instable and fragile constructs open to changes within spatio-temporal matrixes such as the social networks (the fact that these networks are widely considere to be short range construnctions adds a special notion of fragility to identity formation within social networks). It is the Bakhtinian chronotopos that sets the parameters for recollection and commemoration. The complementary concept, cultural memory, is crucial for Assmannian theory. It concerns collective references to the past that are culturally determined and handed down from generation to generation through various media such as in writing, pictorial images, rites and oral history. It is, compared to the communicative memory, a stable transcendental entity. Unlike the predominantly informal and unstructured communicative memory, cultural memory has an abstract, often sacral and solemn quality. Cultural memory is cultivated, transmitted and passed on by social groups. These groups are responsible for the cultivation of our cultural memory, are a “specially trained cast”, which consists of “society administers” – administration rights as means of identity censorship shift into focus. This implies the existence of hierarchical structures in the keeping and handing down of cultural information. Thus, cultural memory, which serves as a basic mental framework for interpreting day-to-day events and provides them with meaning, is again a product of asymmetric power structures.
The close connection between memory (may it be communicative within networks or cultural) and identity reverberates throughout the struggle to find out about origin and function of memory and memorizing processes. John Locke was one of the first to connect memory and identity by relating his life-experiences during The Thirty Years’ War to his personality . “Somit ist Identität […] nichts was wir vorfinden oder das uns übertragen wird, sondern etwas, das wir uns selbst erarbeiten müssen“ (Assmann). Thus, individual-, as well as groupidentities are products of dynamic processes. These processes, which lead to the building of identities, are strongly influenced by modes of commemoration. Mikhail Bakhtin thinks of processes of commemoration as being utterly dialogic and Robert Stam describes the dialogic from which Selfs emerge as “a kind of echo chamber of socially orchestrated voices”, which resound within the individual and create synecdoche [pars pro toto – a part for the whole] cultural figures”.
Due to the multiple voices that reverberate throughout the social networks, the shifting and mixing by which the Self is steadily surrounded the, one can never develop a core-Self, a place to resort to when it comes to serious interruptions (e.g. traumata) in the “selfing-process”. The notion of I-position entails a core ‘I’ that is needed to assume an I-position. In any activity, there is an agent whose active role makes the activity possible. No matter how extensively socially embedded is an activity, or discourse—the stage for that is set by the existence of the person(s). The person—who constructs I-positions—does that from the starting point of some specific location within one’s psychological field. It is obvious that any social network users starting point for current performative action must lie in the past, in his history, i.e. his cultural memory, which is becoming a digitalized entity and is more than ever subject to self-construction through adscription