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Giving Memorials Their Due

Jeff Jarvis has put up a new vlog putting forth his opinion about the 9/11 memorial. The vlog is interesting, and Jeff makes some good points about the issues raised by "permanent" memorials as the world changes around them. With that observation, however, he and I move in different directions.

Jeff contends that the 9/11 memorial ought to be interactive in such a way that visitors can contribute to it as well as derive value from it. In my opinion, the purpose of memorials is to put the present's mark on the future, not to facilitate the inevitable inclination of people of the future to reinterpret the past. Myself, I like coming across memorials in places, even inappropriate, that remind us of change. Similarly with memorials that have become inappropriate: either dismantle or be forced to think about why they have not been dismantled.

Society is already a living memorial. Static memorials are messages to the future, to convey for the duration of their existence what people felt about the person or thing being memorialized. Let the surrounding area, upkeep, and lessons taught about a memorial be the "interactivity."

If you're interested in my suggestion for a 9/11 memorial, see this column.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 09:34 AM EST