Memory Remains: Understanding Collective Memory in the Digital Age

Recently developed information communication technologies, particularly the Internet, have affected how we, both as individuals and as a society, create, store, and recall information. Internet also provides us with a great opportunity to study memory using transactional large scale data, in a quantitative framework similar to the practice in statistical physics. In this project, we make use of online data by analysing viewership statistics of Wikipedia articles on aircraft crashes. We study the relation between recent events and past events and particularly focus on understanding memory triggering patterns. We devise a quantitative model that explains the flow of viewership from a current event to past events based on similarity in time, geography, topic, and the hyperlink structure of Wikipedia articles. We show that on average the secondary flow of attention to past events generated by such remembering processes is larger than the primary attention flow to the current event. We are the first to report these cascading effects.


Memory Remains: Understanding Collective Memory in the Digital Age
Ruth García-Gavilanes, Anders Mollgaard, Milena Tsvetkova, Taha Yasseri


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