Technological Adaptation of the Archive

Your interpretation of yourself and the world around you is influenced by perspective. Archiving, I’ve come to realize, is just as subjective. Whether it be coming to a consensus on the exact definition of the term, or deciding what should and should not be archived, the schools of thought differ substantially on this subject matter. Have we been approaching archiving poorly all along? Can a truly unbiased representation of our past ever be realized? I believe we owe it to ourselves, and to future generations to paint an all encompassing, fully representative picture of our past successes and shortcomings. History will most assuredly repeat itself if we are so careless as to allow our failures to be forgotten.

It was stated in Marlene Manoff’s Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines that, “Whatever the archive contains is already a reconstruction—a recording of history from a particular perspective; it thus cannot provide transparent access to the events them- selves.” Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human”; as is evident from Manoff’s writing, we will never be perfectly objective. The main hindrance to the progression of archivization is that of blatant omission and expunging of valuable information. Velody made mention that what is deemed ‘worthy’ of keeping record of varies from person to person, and discipline to discipline. To summarize Greetham’s thoughts we strive to portray the best image possible for those who follow us, but having selection criteria when it come to archiving could be troublesome because we “are always in danger of looking like conservational idiots.”

So what do we make of this? Assuming we have the ability, should we not store as much information as possible about us, as a people? In life, people change, and memories are subjected to these changes. One technology that I feel could have huge future impact is Google Glass. It may be a gimmick to some, and still others may be slow to adapt to what it has to offer, but it will have an impact. The technology is essentially a set of glasses developed by Google, which allow for hands free archiving during everyday life. It has been released for beta testing, but is not yet commercially available to the public. All the device components, including a camera, are housed within the frame of the glasses themselves. They are said to be lighter than many pairs of sunglasses on the market. A glass is set in the upper right corner of your field of vision, and it can display anything from a text conversation to the GPS route you are following. You can tell the device to take a picture, begin recording a video, or even to look something up on Google for you. You also have the ability to tap the side of the glasses to complete many of these functions as well. The display is set in such a way it allows you to be fully immersed in the world around you instead of being distracted by your technology. The first person perspective would also be extremely interesting when viewing past events.

Technologies are constantly adapting and developing to fit our needs. I believe Google Glass, in particular, could prove to be a framework of sorts towards higher levels of objectivity in archivization. Harriet Bradley stated, “even in an age of postmodern scepticism the archive continues to hold its alluring seductions and intoxications. There is the promise (or illusion?) that all time lost can become time regained. In the archive, there lingers an assurance of concreteness, objectivity, recovery and wholeness.” I believe we will soon be once step closer to bridging the gap between the perceived and the actual.

The definition of the archive must expand, and through continued conversation on the matter, I believe it will. The technology I mentioned above can, and will, serve a form of personal archiving. You, your children, and your grandchildren, would be able to view your life experiences as you saw them. Our day to day discourses may not be stored in a library or museum but they will be stored on our own hard drives, by Google, and on the internet where none but ourselves can delete it. Even should we opt for deletion, nothing is ever truly deleted from this ever expanding and communicating network of computers we have created.

What sort of privacy implications could there be from using a technology that allows us to archive continuously, and without the consent / knowledge of others? Would integrating facial recognition software into these devices be a useful tool in daily dealings, or a huge breach of privacy? Why is it important for the understanding of the archive to adapt, as we do, to the changing circumstances of the world we live in?

-BPD

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