W5 – Archive Fever, Provenance, Structuring data

An archive stores information conceived at a specific time, constituting individual and social institutions and practices (law texts, Religion bible), determines what has been destroyed, preserved or accessible; laying the foundation for future societies and cultures. However, these future societies, now modern day realities have altered the way in which archivable content is accessed, distributed and viewed affecting the individual’s perception and experience.

Differing modes of publishing have been conceived due to the advent of the digital age. This has significantly increased the potential and possibilities of recording and preserving information, now being categorised within tags, comments, likes, blogs, key words via search engines etc; creating a permanent record of the event. This has changed the readers ‘archive fever’ at the point of view of engagement. The individual’s ‘archive Fever’, a phrase coined by Derrida, describes the way in which publishing constitutes individual and collective institution, mode of living, and sense of who we are. At the dawn of the Internet age constant desire and archival fever is stronger than it has ever been with a ‘single-minded’ Ogle (2010) and ‘conscious’ Ogle (2010) decision and strong desire to continually and on a communal bases view digital/categorised content on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Bebo, Moby, affecting facets of happiness, human existence and communication.

Another modern day site that has enabled a more accessible archivable content is http://www.myschool.edu.au/ displaying over 10,000 Australian schools. This site compares the performance in literacy, numeracy, english etc. tabulating and forming the results of the respective schools comparing them on a national basis. This allows parents to view archives of schools that are rated highly and poorly with open discussion, providing parents more information on where they should send their child. Before the advent of the digital age, or even this particular website, word-of-mouth or physical communication was the sole basis/foundation of hearing the good/bad of a particular school, impacting upon where a parent may send their child or children. This experimentation upon publishing this information on this digital mode has provoked controversy regarding the validity and utility of the data contained and represented discouraging schools who were rated lower. However this archivable content is considered to be a large reflection on the teaching abilities and school education which parents show large consideration for and continual monitoring of progress adds a new archival fever for parents and students of primary and middle school education statistics.

Stokes has a problem of mentioning Derrida, labeling it ‘pretentious’, Stokes (2003), validating the largely informal nature of the new age modes of publishing within blogs/websites, effecting future archivable content. Thus, technology’s relationship to human concepts and memory can determine the structure and content of future archivable content e.g. the slang/verbage now used in digital texts has affected younger generation’s english grammar. This record of event produces collective groups that view or comment on the site. These groups are what Stokes labels as ‘discontented masses’ Stokes (2003), has effectively changed the archive fever of the general public, narrowing it to ‘engine optimisers’ Stokes (2003) and ‘bloggers’ Stokes (2003) (also for someone new to the internet search may find it difficult to find and access archives). Although this narrowing of the viewing public is evident sites like Google has made it possible to provide archivable and up-to-date content to the public which would otherwise be unattainable with deteriorating texts and the pure form of the ink-to-paper medium. This large and extensive library of archivable content is also present within other particular websites such as ‘Omeka’ effectively changing the ways in which distribution and access of archivable content is viewed/received by the individual. Schools and universities can access professional academic journal articles and library content within digital collection systems and museum online exhibition systems and digital collections. This grants ability to access such a wide variety of categorised archivable content online.

This Up-to-Date & storing of real-time data is also evident in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, create a permanent and preserved record of the event with the ability to view personal information on facebook on what your favourite soundtrack or what song was #1 on the day you were born. However creating this storing of real-time text/data has changed the process of conception of Derrida’s conception or ‘Exergue’ Enszer (2008). This is the initial process of printing ensuring the possibility of ‘memorisation, repetition, reproduction’ Enszer (2008), and possessing possibility of forgetfulness. Derrida then explains the process of which the text has been constructed to reaching the individual; (signs/inscription -> word/notion -> impression left.) Sites like Twitter and Facebook, displaying information on a reverse chronological order make it extremely difficult or largely impossible to repeat or reproduce information due to trademarks and legal constraints and view from even a day to a week of old content as the continued update of information makes it impossible to retrieve historical data. This exploration of digital histories needs to be rectified through structuring elements of mainstream accessibility or use of key word search or data bases within social networking sites like twitter, facebook, bebo.

Upon a digital platform has made it undoubtedly easier to access and influence our fever to relive nostalgic moments that can be viewed via videos posted on Youtube, facebook, Twitter and search information through countless categorised archives through search engines such as Google, Yahoo etc. However, personal archives within the digital landscape have made it increasingly difficult to view, through constant updating of website programming, losing personal information, constant and continual updating of current information, losing memory of what may have happened in the past and making it impossible to access. This has deprived our archival fever in which would be easier to access in the past with physical photo books and documentation i.e. address books, phones, newspapers, containing personal archives.


Enszer, Julie R. (2008) Julie R. Enszer (personal blog), ‘Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression by Jacques Derrida’, November 16, <http://julierenszer.blogspot.com.au/2008/11/archive-fever-freudian-impression-by.html>

Ogle, Matthew (2010) ‘Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web’, mattogle.com, December 16, <http://mattogle.com/archivefever/>

Stokes, Jon (2003) ‘Reading Notes: Archive Fever’, Ars Technica, June 27, <http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2003/06/130-2/>

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