This is due tomorrow and this will be replaced by the final version when that’s done. In the meantime, suggestions are welcome. And yes, my dear tweeple, and Facebook friends, and other connections, probably I will pester you for interviews or some such… You will be immortalized in academia –if you aren’t already! 😉
This paper explores the way collective archives emerge from the individual digital memories of participants in social networks, facilitated by social sotware applications. Examples are drawn from social networks in northern California, particularly the SF Bay area, though being largely carried out online, these networks are actually much more widely distributed. These collective archives are described as “ethereal” because they are widely distributed, mainly linked through blog entries, twitter feeds, and other ephemeral locations. The evolution of these ethereal archives represents a response to the disappearance of space as a contraint on archives and archives now rather being constrained by time.
Digital technology allows us to preserve our memories both easily and without the constraints of space, and at the same time to broadcast those memories through blogs, microblogs, photostreams, video collections and social networking sites that incorporate all of these. This already huge and rapidly growing mass of information is now instead constrained by time: the time it takes users and creators to navigate, find, and attend to any one item. Harold Innis argued for the importance of communication over time, because these archives become an extension not only of personal, but of collective memory. Both individual and community identities are shaped and preserved in collaborative and ephemeral archives, made up of a few people’s Flickr sets, another’s blog, yet another’s Youtube collection, and many others’ Twitter feeds. While digital media allow communication of all kinds to be preserved, the volume of communication is now so great that much is in danger of being lost in a sea of texts, images, audiofiles, and videos.
However, as these materials accumulate, sometimes they prompt the emergence of a community or strengthen and expand what was once a small and physically proximal group into a much wider and more influential network. As people connect, their personal archives are linked into what might be called an ethereal archive, dependent for it’s organization on the social connections across the network expressed through links shared through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and so on. Not only will events or objects begin to generate folsonomic tagging across platforms, but people as well, most often in the form of @twitternames. Not surprisingly, clear examples of these ethereal archives have evolved around the San Francisco Bay area, wherein reside not only many technophiles, but also cooperatively minded people.