This week I will be blogging about media archives and the process of storing and arranging any form of data or information so that we are able to access it later. An archive is anything that can store data for later retrieval, such as a database, filing cabinet, online data storage or even archived emails. These forms of data are structured depending on how and when the information is published, affecting the publics experience of that media. Jacques Derrida suggests that ‘all media construct archives, and also destroy other archives, differently’.
Archives became useful as it had the power to both document past people and events, but also had the capability to gather information on future events. This shift in capability allowed archives to involve both the user and the producer in order to create forms of expression and information. Archives are the basis for individual and collective memory, the basis for authority and culture, and the basis for both individual and collective experience. Archives and media technologies are now able to allow publics to do (or not do) what they please. Often an archives structure of data is revealed through a form of content/expression, which leads me on to the word of the week, desire.
Archives can be paradoxical, on one hand that can be controlled and accessed freely, leading to our interest, but they can also be boring. Each individual can be seen to have their own ‘archive fever’, whether it be my uni work on Microsoft Word, my music on iTunes and my iPod, and even social networking sites such as Facebook or even this blog. People are keen to build and re-build their archives using media platforms and products such as Google, Amazon and Apple. This allows these publishers to structure data and control provenance, which is seen in actor-network theory where objects are treated as part of a social network. Archives not only provide new forms of content and expression, but also imply an new assemblage of archives and new modes of distributing this information.
In a way, archives are able to treat us to our own desires. When I thought of this at first, I was skeptical as to how boring archives could possibly help me enjoy my memories and help me form future memories, but then it clicked. I have recently been in Sri Lanka for the World University Games Competition for Cricket, all expenses paid by RedBull (lucky me!), a once in a lifetime opportunity! Without the processes of archiving, there would be not information, apart from my memory, to show to anyone. By archiving my photos in a photo album, I was able to store this information and show it to other people (such a my family) when I returned home. Without the power of archives, I would not be able to share these experiences as most of the information would be lost and I would not be able to make my individual memories collective! It was my desire to build an archive so that I could express and distribute information and memories of my trip freely to others, and it worked!
Overall, different archives mean different forms of experience for different people. They can be used to store information and memories, as well as help the media distribute content effectively. In short, archives have changed the data world forever!
Derrida, J. (1996) Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, University of Chicago Press, Chicago