New Archives for New Knowledge

What is knowledge?

The truth is that nobody really knows. But, in order to know something, that means that a person has knowledge, right? So, I guess that means that nobody knows about knowledge or, more or less, how to define it. Because of this lack of definition, there is always new knowledge emerging that doesn’t always mesh with what is considered “traditional” knowledge, and we may struggle to find somewhere to archive this new material. But that does not mean that we should not create places for this new knowledge to be stored.

Manoff mentions that with the growth of untraditional fields of study comes with the growing question of what actually counts as knowledge. The reason for this being that many scholars believe that only objects and documents that contain knowledge are worthy of being archived. With changes in technology come changes in the ways in which knowledge is produced. Knowledge has taken electronic form, instead of only being the ink-and-paper incarnation most people are used to.

As she speaks about Derrida’s take on the archive, Manoff states that, “If the archive cannot or does not accommodate a particular kind of information or mode of scholarship, then it is effectively excluded from the historical record.” Essentially, there is a standard for what is considered knowledge. Not only this, but there is a standard for what can be archived. If something does not fit the set standard, it is essentially forgotten about and excluded from being archived.

Halberstam uses the terms “stupidity,” “forgetfulness,” and “failure” in her book to describe sources of knowledge. She explains that ignorance or stupidity results in generating a new type of knowledge in a nontraditional way. Because of this take on knowledge, Halberstam says we should be focused on creating archives of this nontraditional knowledge, as it is still knowledge. She says that when we want to think differently, “We must validate different kinds of concepts and move to different archives.” With each new type of thinking comes the requirement for a new type of archive.

Manoff says that if there is no place for a new type of knowledge to be archived, it is therefore forgotten. Halberstam believes that we must create these new types of archives ourselves in order to have a place for this new type of knowledge. Knowledge is an ever-changing, amorphous thing. There will always be a new type of knowledge emerging from somewhere. But because there is not an archive suited for this new type of knowledge does not mean it should just be forgotten. A huge part of creating new sources of knowledge is also creating a new place to store this knowledge, not allowing it to be forgotten.


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