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Why hearing is not believing ? January 10, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in contemplation, life, reminisces-1990s.

What is the earliest picture of yours ever shot ? Probably the day you were born or maybe a month old. If you are among the poorest in the world ( in which case you wouldn’t be reading this ), maybe you live an entire life without a picture of yours ever shot.

Now, what is the earlier dated recording of your own voice that you have access to ? That you or someone else recorded, that exists, maybe not with you, but exists nevertheless ? Most certainly the earliest picture is older than the earliest recording.

Keeping aside the possibility of video recording that makes available both visual and audio memories, why do we choose visual ( photograph ) over audio media to store our special moments ? Is it just about accessibility ? Cost ? Or thats just how we are – evolutionary reasons for prefering human faces over human voices, if at all such a comparison can be meaningfully made. Or is it because visual imprint is stronger owing to how hard it is to impersonate – its harder to look like another but relatively easier to sound like someone else ? Or even that its harder to change the way one looks than to change one’s voice and diction ? Why when friends and family get together you have elaborate photo sessions but rarely a session where you record the conversations ? Is it because we process images near instantaneously but sounds sequentially and hence less exciting ? When prospective alliances are sought, why do people exchange photographs, why not ( even in addition to photographs ), audio recordings ? 🙂

If you had to preserve a person’s memory and had to choose between a picture versus an hour’s recording of the person’s speech, what would you choose ? Why ?

P.S : My earlier picture would be within a week of being born in Oct 1981. It took over 15 years before a recording of my voice is available. To the best of the knowledge, the earliest recording of anything I said comes from this month 11 years ago – Jan 24th, 1996. It was enacting a ‘radio show’ at Little Rock – a recording of which I have a copy of.



1. Honey, you stole my idea :-( « Epistles - May 21, 2007

[…] ( This post thanks to reader Achala who sent me the link below ) About 5 months ago, I had asked of this possibility. When prospective alliances are sought, why do people exchange photographs, why not (even in […]

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