Editorial:

'Memory'

1Memory is everywhere. We remember, more often than not, who and what we are, recognise friends and acquaintances, remember (hopefully) birthdays and anniversaries, and don't forget, as much as we'd sometimes like to, our everyday tasks and duties. But that's just the tip of the iceberg: we also speak of computer memory (usually in the context of needing more to run the latest Microsoft-made memory hog), of digital archives where we store what we don't want to bother our braincells with, and of those storerooms of human knowledge -- libraries -- which are gradually moving from analogue to digital storage as they join the new global memory that is the Internet (according to the visionaries). And then there are the alternatives to this 'official' memory: repressed memories, oppositional views of history, new discoveries that challenge our ideas of the past.

2It is in this wide field of possible cultural interaction that this, the second issue of M/C operates. At a time when half the world remembers the first anniversary of Princess Diana's death, with the other half trying desperately to avoid the tabloids' crocodiles' tears, at a time when most of us are looking forward to forgetting all about the White House sex scandals, and at a time, finally, when cultural commentators the world over are beginning to sort out which events of the past decade, century, and millennium will have been worth remembering, we review the idea of 'memory' from a variety of angles -- some broad, some narrow, some focussed on individual human memory, some on the memory of humanity as such.

3Our featured M/C guest writer, Canadian scholar Paul Attallah, opens this issue. In his article "Too Much Memory", he covers a lot of ground -- from the growing nostalgia for cultural products of the past to the recovery of political memory of past wrongs, to the memory of Princess Diana and other deceased celebrities. The media, he writes, are today in the business of creating 'pseudo-events' -- but the public are getting better at looking behind the façades: they might come to reject this constant stream of too much (fake) memory.

4 As P. David Marshall writes, the problem becomes even more complicated if you're in Australia, at some distance from the centres of mainstream cultural production. As publicity leaks across the Internet and similar channels, Australians collect 'anticipatory memories' of those pseudo-events created by the media -- before the events even take place in the local channels of popular culture. The result of this phenomenon, Marshall suggests, may be an even stronger hegemonic grip of American broadcast standards.

5 Adam Dodd takes us from memories of events in the immediate future to repressed memories -- of alien abductions. He points out that whatever the truth behind abduction stories, we should take note of the fact that these stories are reported as truth, and promptly rejected by the scientific establishment. This raises age-old questions of the nature of 'reality' in a postmodern world where objectivity has come to be recognised as an unattainable dream.

6 Continuing the extraterrestrial theme, Nick Caldwell turns to the possible revival of 1950s science fiction iconography. After the cynical 80s with its dark and dirty SF designs, fond memories of the curvy, stylish interstellar dreams of post-war times are beginning to emerge again -- at a time of frantic artistic recycling of works from all eras, and at the dawn of a new millennium where again everything seems possible, perhaps now the rocketship designs of the 50s can finally come true.

7Axel Bruns returns the focus earth-wards, but remains on the topic of modern technology. He points to the opportunities and threats brought about by Internet archives such as Deja News -- with every newsgroup article at every user's fingertips, the potential for abuse is immense. As the perfect digital memory offered by Deja News is becoming a favourite search tool, it is high time to question the ethical implications of archiving the ephemeral.

8Paul Mc Cormack's article offers some more general thoughts on the future of the Internet. Comparing what still are the early days of this new medium with the first decades of radio, he suggests that we may 'remember' the future of the Net by learning from the past. The commercialisation of radio after its 'anarchic' childhood may be what's in store for the Internet, too -- despite the obvious differences between the two media.

9Finally, in her article on "Memory and the Media", Felicity Meakins closes the circle by returning to an issue touched on by Paul Attallah -- the death of Princess Diana. She describes how since Diana's demise the media's rhetoric has changed profoundly to consist almost exclusively of forms of eulogy. Using Speech Act Theory, Meakins identifies the performative function of this rhetoric, and points out how it has influenced our memories of Diana.

10Finally, in her article on "Memory and the Media", Felicity Meakins closes the circle by returning to an issue touched on by Paul Attallah -- the death of Princess Diana. She describes how since Diana's demise the media's rhetoric has changed profoundly to consist almost exclusively of forms of eulogy. Using Speech Act Theory, Meakins identifies the performative function of this rhetoric, and points out how it has influenced our memories of Diana.