Archive Fever

The archive is more than the accumulation of historical records or the place where they are located. Archives are systematic assemblages where data is contained for the purpose of one’s desire of information. Effectively, archives have the ability to act as a tool of expression and develop its content, primarily because producers, publishers and “produsers” that connect with it manipulate archives. In the modern era archives have moved on from its traditional role of accumulating records. Today archives can be located in the form of databases, software, media libraries and so forth. Each archive relative to its particular assemblage signifies its individuality from other archive assemblages particularly because of the way content is expressed, contained, structured and dispersed.

Archives simply have an authoritative influence over many factors that govern the principles of everyday life. Archives have manipulated the way we remember and form identities. Historically, in ancient times the method of remembering certain traditions, practices and stories were primarily constructed through oral tradition. This also formed a culture, which closely associated with these constructions and their social implications on their populations. The long history of the Aboriginal people has been categorised by this influence of oral tradition and has vastly impacted the memory and identity of these people. Another example occurs within the historical recordings of Herodotus, said to be the first historian. Herodotus heavily relied on the stories and interpretations of historical events such as the Persian Wars from the people who were in presence. Also, this period influences the way we remember; no longer do we remember by speaking to each other, we learn by recording and saving or preserving. His recordings would soon develop a sense of archive, in its traditional interpretation as an accumulation of historical records or the place they are located. Essentially, archives demonstrate their self-fulfilling and preemptive nature, as this is one of their most interesting aspects. The power of an archive to manipulate memory and identity has inevitably influenced the future of archives and their position and dominance within media and technology.

An archive as a systematic tool of categorisation eventually takes up the formation of its content and their expressions. The significance of an archive as an assemblage is not entirely embedded in the information and data it contains. Accessibility and communication to publics are a fundamental basis to the social implications, its assemblage and the desire we have to engage with content.

Walking into my garage this morning I discovered my father’s old filing cabinets. Looking through the filing cabinet was interesting typically discovering photos and business documents. Its compelling to think that today the domestic filing archive has been replaced by the of modern media platforms including hard-drives, email accounts and USB sticks. These platforms develop their own role as an archive where we store information for the reason of our desired retrieval. Retrieving information and connection with content highlights the design of portability. Thus I can access the same or different pieces of information on different platforms through demands of accessibility, frequency and mobility and socio-technical forces, driving convergence.

Archives through their authoritative figures and socio-technical forces have allowed us to interact through different platforms and develop our desire to distribute and publish information across different borders. Data distribution, accessibility and mobility are all aspects constructed into the innovation of the Google Glass but where will the future of archives be?

One thing is certain as the development of archives continues; all humans will continue to have a need of some sort on archives. Archives have constructed the way we re-access information and categorise it, and thus made us highly efficient. These new innovations have continued this efficiency however the question remains that how discouraging can these innovations be to our lives and our privacy and where is the line between virtuality and reality in a population influenced by the interest in details.

There is a need and a personal relief from the populations of the modern era when information is categorised and organised. Everyone does it, we construct things in alphabetical order or number them 1 to 1000 such as lists. Today I have my music library categorised by alphabetical order according to the artists I have in my music library and I have my email categorised by how recent the email is. Archive fever suggest the existence of competition between the most desired information and information which interests our engagement with publishing. My phone book and all the contacts I have in there are syncronised with their Facebook profile picture; my music library barely has any mishaps in the information of the songs or albums they come from. This is nothing less than an example of the authoritative power archives have over us and give to us, which allow us to construct our identity.

Derrida, Jacques (1996) Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression Chicago:University of Chicago Press

Parikka, Jussi (2013) ‘Archival Media Theory: An Introduction to Wolfgang Ernst’s Media Archaeology’ in Ernst, Wolfgang Digital Memory and the Archive Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press: 1-22