The Archive: Meaning and Implications

To start with, I want to say as a disclaimer that I’m not sure I comprehended what the author truly meant to say, and what his main point was.  I thought he failed to communicate his ideas in plain english, and thus I found this to be a chore to read.  However, I can offer my interpretation, and my thoughts.

It seemed that the author defined an archive to be a “collection of memory”.  Let me attempt to simplify this.  Throughout the day, we observe the world through our senses, and perceive things.  We also encode the things we observe into our memories, and subsequently retrieve them.  In retrieving them, we can “re-experience” them… or re-cognize (recognize) them.  An archive is simply something that is used to make it easier to retrieve things from memory.  We subconsciously associate it with things like text or video, but, as the author explains, it could be anything.  A rock could be an archive if it has meaning to you and if it triggers you to retrieve certain memories.

The author also broke down the word archive into two components: commencing, and commanding.  He said that commencing is actually creating the archive, and commanding is actually making the archive informative and trustworthy.  I didn’t really see the authors point in taking about this.  When I tried to break it down into plain english, the subsequent points all seemed like common sense to me.

A question about archives that I would pose is, “will they become centralized, and what will that mean?”  Let me explain: it seems like information now is becoming centralized.  There are a lot of things that are well accepted, and societal leaders or experts are the ones who archive it.  It seems that most things that are important are being archived by people with power.  Obviously people can still keep journals, or use emerging technologies (like the internet) to do so by having a blog, but this all seems trivial compared to “important things” that are archived by those in power.

I actually think that the internet will make archives more centralized.  While the internet makes it easier for people to create content, it also makes it easier for people to access content.  People tend to gravitate to the best/accepted content, and thus, I think people will do this more often as it becomes easier to do.

– Adam Zerner


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