Blended Memory: the Changing Balance of Technologically-mediated Semantic and Episodic Memory

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Ubiquitous technologies are leading us to be less selective when encoding, reviewing, and sharing details of the events in our lives. Reviewing digital photos has been shown to help the reinforcement of autobiographical memory. However, we need to know more about the type of memory experience these practices lead to. Accessing too much recorded detail about past events could lead our minds to engage less fully in the construction of memory, avoiding episodic experience by short-cutting to semantic knowledge. External memory has always been crucial to our memory process and our growing digital memories bring with them great potential advantages. Technology should, however, be designed to complement our minds rather than to replace them. Increased distance from our own experience through a failure to invoke episodic memory may lead to detachment from our own memories and, consequently, from our sense of self and from others. This paper introduces the term ‘blended memory’ to conceptualise the balance of internal (biological) and external (physical, digital or communal) memory, then speculates on how changes to this balance might impact on the way we view our past, present and future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNavigating Landscapes of Mediated Memory
EditorsPaul Wilson, Patrick McEntaggart
PublisherThe Inter-Disciplinary Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-84888-090-0
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • memory
  • technology
  • episodic
  • semantic
  • selectivity
  • digital photography

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