It’s almost a year, a whole 12 months. Time flies, etc.

I’m referring to My Earliest Memory, a project that began with a glass of red wine, an innocent question from a four-year old and was steered into overdrive by Stephen Fry. A project that I thought would perhaps garner some attention among friends, but beyond that I was flying blind. It’s entirely probable that, had Mr Fry not chosen to Tweet the link, the project would be languishing with just a few ‘memories’. At the time of writing there are 169 earliest memories on the site. I have a handful to post, so we might just reach 175.

It promised to be more, but I’ve been asked to withdraw about 40 earliest memories from the unpublished collection. No reasons given and none asked for. These are not my assets, so I can’t claim ownership. Even the offer of anonymity didn’t change the decision of those authors. I was hoping to hit 200 this year (originally, I was hoping for 50, so I’m not complaining). Hitting the 200 mark won’t happen – unless, as a result of reading this, you happen upon 30 people happy to share what they consider to be their earliest memory and I find the time in the next four weeks or so to post them up). Unlikely.

The Future

I’m not making any predictions here. What I can do is shed some light on the next phase – as and when I hit 365 earliest memories on the site. So, we’re some way off the future right now. But that’s the good thing about the future, it’s always coming. Consider this a whetting of your appetites, or something.

I never really started My Earliest Memory with a plan in mind. Not a concrete one. But within days I’d thought some ideas through and noted down the ones I wanted to take forward, as and when I hit my target of one year’s worth of earliest memories.

It’s important to note, again, that I’m not claiming these memories as my own, but instead using them to create new things, in a sort of ‘Creative Commons’ kind of way. And another thing that it’s important to note: I’m not looking to personally make any financial gain directly from the memories.

One of the ideas was to ask people to take an earliest memory and use it to inspire something else: a short story, a poem, a painting, sculpture, anything. This would give the memory form. And, if I can attract some talent to it, I could auction off the resulting ‘art’ and raise some funds. Probably for the Alzheimer’s Society or other memory disorders. I like the idea of this, and I will try my level best to make it happen, just as soon as I hit that 365 target.

Following on from this, I’d like to make a digital map of the memories, as best I can. This will involve asking people to read the memory, and then dropping the recording of it into the real world. Right now, I have experimented with Broadcastr, but as time goes on this could change as the app now has a new focus which no longer meets my needs. Again, this will happen, even if I have to read every single memory myself. I just love the idea of people stumbling across an earliest memory in what would be an example of serendipity if ever there was one.

The View From Here?

Well, where the project goes after that, I can’t say right now. I have some more ideas, but I think it’s best to try and execute the ones that are first in line.

I’m still a long way from reaching my goal of 365 memories. It could take another decade to reach it. It may only take a month from now, if someone with a wider reach and more social media clout than I spreads the word. Whichever it is, I simply wish for it to happen. Out of seven billion people, it must be possible to reach such a comparatively tiny number.

So, that’s it. For now.