Mementos are digital or physical objects reminding the user of persons,
places or events. They function as memory cues, aiding the memory in
retrieving details not recalled spontaneously. Memory cues can be utilized
in remembering either knowledge or autobiographical memories. These
autobiographical memories aid in building and maintain social
relationships, developing a sense of identity and solving problems.
This article explores means for supporting autobiographic memories of
everyday life through design, pinpointing the aspects that will become
valuable memories. The researchers conducted a cultural probes study with
ten participants. The participants were first asked to capture a weekday in
their lives without further instructions or examples. In the second phase
they reflected on everyday experiences in the past. In the third and final
phase the participants captured the same weekday but with the benefit
of the previous discussions.
The researchers discovered that everyday life escapes definitions. Mundane
experiences may produce special memories or result from special moments of
choice. Therefore, parts of everyday life can be special, although they are
easily overlooked. In remembering everyday life, design could utilize the
aspects of repetition, familiarity and experience of habit.
Based on the findings, the researchers created four conceptual design-
research directions. The first direction was Mementos for Repeated Events;
a combined representation of a group of events rather than recording
multiple single occurrences. The second direction was Selecting Experiences
in the Present; indicating potentially valuable memories. Third direction
was Mementos in Retrospect; describing or visualizing an important instance
in a more abstract way. The fourth and final direction was Repurposing
Mementos. Current mementos could be reexamined to explore the memory aid
they provide for the aspects of everyday life.
The probes method was already familiar to me, and I usually find the results and conclusions of this method very interesting and inspirational. The presentation by Ine Mols at NordiCHI 2014 was emotional and powerful, the article revealed further interesting details of the research. The design-research directions presented as a result of the probes study left me anxious to hear the results of further studies and experiments.