Author: wwm6

The Expanding Digital Archive

Jacques Derrida examines the changes in archive authority throughout history, noting the changes brought about to the practice of archiving as civilization evolves.  In his examination of Freud on page 8 of Archive Fever, he notes that Freud may worry that he is wasting his time “mobilizing a ponderous archiving machine (press, printing, ink, paper) to record something which in the end does not merit such expense?” This seems to be a worry which Richard Cox does not share in his piece, Digital Curation and the Citizen Archivist. Cox points out in the fifth section of his work, entitled The Changing World of Personal Recordkeeping, that the countless bills, certificates and checks that surround us just in our own homes are all items which can be considered for archival. I believe there is a balance between both of these opinions. The expansion of archiving tools has made the process accessible to a wider demographic of people; however I do think more consideration should be given to what we knowingly archive.

In several of the other blog posts, I’ve noticed references to Facebook, perhaps the single most rapidly expanding archive on the internet today. When considering the Derrida quote above, I immediately thought of a commercial which I had seen on TV, tying just these two topics together. A recent Sprint commercial talks about the Facebook activity of Jenna, noting the many friend requests she is responding to while on her cell phone ( It is this type of information which would have frightened Freud the most. Now that the authority to archive such information is so widely available, the quality of information which is being recorded has become unfiltered. Cox notes this issue and calls on Archivers to instruct on how to “consciously plan out what our personal archives will look like and the functions [they] will serve, understanding that it will consist of paper records, printed ephemera, photographs, memorabilia, and digital materials.” As technology develops, and our lives become less and less private, better instruction on archiving such as what Cox suggests must occur. Many people do not understand that every Tweet sent from their cell phone, every status posted on Facebook and every picture uploaded on Instagram is all part of a permanent digital archive that is unlikely to be erased, and might warrant more consideration than we are currently allotting.

Question: Do you think it is the responsibility of social media outlets as the gatekeepers to their content to filter what is posted on their sites? Should that responsibility fall solely on the individual user?