The Ever Evolving Archive

Jacques Derrida and Richard Cox take on the archive from two perspectives that play accordingly with each other to create a progressive timeline of sorts.  French philosopher, Jacques Derrida, toys with the origin of the archive concept using a deconstructive analysis in his book Archive Fever.  Derrida begins first by investigating the source of the term archive itself as it dates back to the Greek word Arkhe, which by definition essentially “names at once the commencement and the commandment.”  Upon further deconstruction of the meaning he explains the commencement aspect as pertaining to the nature and history of a physical happening while commandment refers to a happening that was necessitated by authoritative social order, in accordance with law.  These defining themes of an archive were built from the classical Greek structure created to domicile the archives.  At this time archons were the superior magistrates of the archives and used their command to protect and ultimately interpret the archives.  Once housed the archives where said to have gone “from the private to the public.”  This phase does not mean that the archives are now free domain or non-secretive, but simply now a more wholesome collection through the passage of institution.

Cox approaches archives from a more modern perspective as technology and information processing is rapidly changing into the future.  He proposes that the age of “libraries, museums, and other institutions serving as documentary repositories” is becoming more and more obsolete allowing digitally equip individuals the authoritative command behind their own archives.  With the emergence of social media websites, archiving in a sense is regaining its appeal to the general public as individuals create for themselves a legacy that can be permanently stored and shared.  These new archives utilize technology to “save every scrap of information about their lives and families and call them forth effortlessly and seamlessly whenever needed.”  Now information can be processed and accessed instantaneously even allowing the archives to become more open and freely accessible to anyone connected with the Internet’s public domain.  Although efficient and convenient for some, this accessibility can cause trouble to those who seek a more secretive archive in the modern age.

Question:  With the modern age of individuals creating their own archives, who is to reinforce the legitimacy of what is being published in the public domain and how much of the social media is simply a guise to create a false or idealistic appearance of one’s life?


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