Instagram and Hyperlapse: Anticipated Memory
Social networks have a huge impact on how their users perceive their lives and what happens to them. Different networks influence different aspects of our lives, both social and cultural. Instagram, one of the most popular networks today, meant not only a revolution in photography but also in people’s perception of memories as they remember experiencing them in the moment they were happening.
A Nobel Prize laureate and one of the most influential psychologist alive, Daniel Kahneman, was working with the concept of so called “experiencing-self” and “remembering-self”, an approach that can be applied to the usage of Instagram and its latest feature: Instagram Hyperlapse.
To summarize what Instagram (a combination of words “instant camera” and”telegram”) is: A platform for sharing photographs and short videos (up to 15 seconds) was first introduced in March 2010 This easy-to-use social media and photo editor in one allowed its users to do three things: snapping pictures with their phones, quickly editing them by using pre-set filters (enhancing colors, contrast, saturation, light, and providing the photography with a vintage look), and sharing the results with friends and public by using several other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr or Foursquare. It is also possible to tag people, or add the photo to a photo map by using Facebook Places.
On August 26, 2014 Instagram launched its new feature called Hyperlapse. It is not embedded in Instagram but works as an independent application, so far only available for iOS. One of the advantages is that Hyperlapse users do not need to be subscribed to Instagram or Facebook to use it. What Hyperlapse does is it enables the user to take a video (up to 45 minutes) and consequently accelerate the speed of the motion up to 12-times. The application also uses an algorithm to stabilize the image, which creates a cinematic effect. The optical stabilization is especially useful when shooting the video on-the-walk. A downside of Hyperlapse is that it does not record sound and it is not possible to blend two videos together.
Even thought the function of speeding up the motion as such is not exactly revolutionary, Instagram found a way to deliver it to its users without having to use any complicated software. You can see the comparison between an “old fashion hyperlapse” and “Instagram Hyperlapse” in the video below. Instagram Hyperlapse is simple ans user-friendly option to enhance one’s video. Although it does not support filters, the final result of any video taken with the application will seem extraordinary in comparison with the original.
Lot of criticism has been directed at Instagram for its alleged distortional influence on art (Willim). Let’s examine a different aspect of Instagram (and in the near future probably also Hyperlapse).
Kahneman explained in a TED talk about “Experience vs. Memory” the difference between experiencing and remembering while perceiving happiness. He said that the endings of stories are crucial to how we remember them. Moments pass us and they are lost forever – unless we capture them. We have the power and the tools (smartphones + Instagram) to capture them all in a way we want to remember them (using filters that best associate with our current feelings). Kahneman classifies the “experiencing-self” as the one who lives in the present and “remembering-self” as the one who maintains the story of our lives. When we think about our experiences and contemplate (choose) whether it was a positive or negative one, this is what Kahneman says about the choice:
“The experiencing self has no voice in this choice. We actually don’t choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences. And even when we think about the future, we don’t think of our future normally as experiences. We think of our future as anticipated memories.” – Daniel Kahneman
The notion of the correlation between this theory and Instagram was already picked up by a “Performance Philosopher” Jason Silva in his channel Shots of Awe and he created a short clip describing his viewpoint about the “Instagram Generation”.
Enhancing photos and videos capturing our lives also enhances our memory of them, which leads to a happier life.
“This is not about how happily a person lives. It is about how satisfied or pleased the person is when that person thinks about her life. Very different notion. ” – Daniel Kahneman
If you pardon the low quality caused by poor lighting, you can watch my own demonstration of what a Hyperlapse can look like – writing this blog-post using an iPad:
Buchanan, Matt. ‘The Revolution Will Be Instagrammed’. Gizmodo. N.p., 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.
TED,. Daniel Kahneman: The Riddle Of Experience Vs. Memory. 2010. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.
Willim, Robert. ‘Enhancement Or Distortion? From The Claude Glass To Instagram’. Sarai Reader 09: Projections. 1st ed. New Delhi: N.p., 2014. Print.