In the current volume of The Review of Philosophy and Psychology (Special issue on Distributed Cognition and Memory) “The Adaptive Function of Distributed Remembering: Contributions to the Formation of Collective Memory” (Vol. 4, issue 1) a must read article for those interested in the social and cultural functions of collective memory by Martin M. Fagin, Jeremy K. Yamashiro and William C. Hirst.
The abstract begins: “Empirical research has increasingly turned its attention to distributed cogni- tion. Acts of remembering are embedded in a social, interactional context; cognitive labor is divided between a rememberer and external sources. The present article examines the benefits and costs associated with distributed, collaborative, conversational remember- ing. Further, we examine the consequences of joint acts of remembering on subsequent individual acts of remembering. Here, we focus on influences on memory through social contagion and socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting. Extending beyond a single social interaction, we consider work that tracks the propagation of socially shared retrieval-induced forgetting throughout larger networks made up of several agents. Although much work has focused on how distributing cognition can augment memory, this is not the primary lesson we draw from the conversational remembering literature. Rather, mnemonic convergence between communicators is a boon to sociality. It allows the formation and maintenance of mnemonic communities, rather than expanding capacity or accuracy of memory per se.“