The concept of storage is found in Vilém Flusser’s work under two different aspects. First, to store is integrated in his concept of communication (Kommunikologie, 1996, pp. 9–15). Humans store information as an unnatural, negatively entropic strategy to overcome death. In this sense, storage refers to cultural memory as a project for storing and conveying acquired knowledge, but which is subject to distortions over time.
Second, the permanent storage of information can only be achieved by developing artificial memories: This is Flusser’s other observation on this subject. The apparatuses will take over the operation of storage, and thus assume responsibility for managing the infinite volume of information available. This transfer from human to machine means not only a change of support medium, but also the gradual automation of memorization, which in the past was performed by the brain.
In his essays “The Non-Thing 1” (German original 1989), “The Non-Thing 2” (German original 1990), and “On Memory (Electronic or Otherwise)” (German original 1988), Flusser’s analysis shows that this transition implies new conditions for humans and the way history is perceived (“The Non-Thing 1” and “The Non-Thing 2,” in: The Shape of Things, 1999; “On Memory (Electronic or Otherwise),” in: Leonardo, vol. 23, no. 4, 1990). Permanent storage will enable humankind to free itself from the need to possess information that has to be made available to others, or rather granting immediate access to it.
In this scenario, storage performed by machines, says Flusser, could produce superfluous non- consumable data, a reference to his concept of “waste.” In addition, he points out this could give rise to a distanced view, which is well suited to “de-ideologize” our understanding of the storage process. In this case, the distance would enable humans to understand the difference between “information/software” and “support/ hardware.”
Original article by Diogo Bornhausen