Are We Planning Our Future Memories?

Cameras are powerful tools to control the memories we make. In a 2010 TED Talk, psychologist and Nobel Prize winner professor Daniel Kahneman, presented the idea that millennials see the present as an “anticipated memory.” In other words, when a person takes an Instagram picture, that person is both experiencing the present reality and actively shaping how that reality will be remembered in the future. As a result, many will argue they are betraying the present by not living in the moment. But, are the memories the real motive why the ‘Instagram generation’ is so addicted to capturing the moment?

Internet surveys indicate over 80% of social media posts to sites like Instagram, Twitter and others amount to “announcements about one’s own immediate experiences”. We post pictures of what we eat, drink, where we’ve been and calmly await for the next tsunami of likes. But what is it that makes us post those pictures on Instagram? Can’t we keep those for our private use? It is undeniable we like the attention but, why do we like the attention so much?

In 2012, Harvard University National Academy of Sciences conducted a study to assess how much people liked talking about themselves and why. The results is that Humans get a biochemical buzz from self-disclosure. We devote almost 40% of conversation sharing our own experience. Sharing personal information activates the reward areas of the brain. The same as we experience after sex, food or getting money. Talking about other people in contrast does not activate the rewarding part of the brain. What is most interesting is the findings also revealed people actually love self-disclosure if they knew people were listening. All of this goes along way toward explaining the appeal of self-promoting social-media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

What Sparks Our Fire: The power of self-disclosure on social media through pictures.

Do you agree with Daniel Kahneman’s statement or do you think this entire generation is sharing Instagram pictures with the ultimate goal of a social validation? We would like to hear your thoughts.

Twelve Celebrities, One Selfie, and Two Million Retweets Later


So, let’s talk about why this photo got millions of tweets and favorites in a matter of hours. It’s a very simple concept of the collusion of several very strong brands into something much more than the sum of it’s parts. In particular, the followings of Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen DeGeneres, and Brad Pitt individually are staggering in the first place. When all of these people come together and do something very normal and human, i.e. take a selfie, not only does that bring all the strength of their collective personas to bear on a single social media post, it also manages to bring the rest of us up to their level. One can imagine being there and being a part of such glamorous proceedings, and to experience that camaraderie even further one shares or favorites the post.


We can expect the post to reach at least 2.5 million retweets and possibly half as many favorites, in addition to media coverage, social media mentions, and astute blog posts about that very subject. It may be that some enterprising advertising executive may decided to get all these people together again to create a new campaign, referencing this photo.

Also this happened, because the internet.


That is far too much Spacey for one picture.

What Sparks Our Fire: The most retweeted tweet ever.

What do you think will be the results of this post?

Tweet maps

Locals vs Tourists

Languages used

Smart phones used

Eric Fischer and MapBox generated amazing visual maps made of metadata from 280 million New York tweets going back to 2011. The first, maps tweets sent by locals (those in NY for more than one month) and tourists (those in NY for less than one month). Popular tourist tweet locations included the World Trade Center site, the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Ferries and Staten Island Ferry. The next map captured the languages used in tweets. Although English and Spanish topped the list, the remainder included a wide variety of languages. The last map displayed that the majority of tweets were sent using iPhone and Android mobile devices.

What sparked our fire: The visual representation of social media.

What other social media data would you like to see visually represented?


-Canopy Team