Daily Archives: May 9, 2021

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Reflecting on the Semester Readings

When reading Capturing History, 280 Characters at a Time, there were a few questions that came up when discussing the use of tweets. One thing that I had wondered about, when they discussed the Black Lives Matter movement that arose after the shooting of Michael Brown, was if the tweets that they were collecting were filtered? I know that there are times where people post insensitive tweets about certain events as well as posting “memes” or other forms of expression. I wonder if any of these were included and, if not, who decides what should or shouldn’t be included? What bias did that bring into the records that were kept?

In addition to this, the author discusses the use of tweets and how “even if the tweets were shared in a public forum, many users would not anticipate that their tweets could be saved for all posterity.” When I read this, I felt confused because growing up I remember always being told “be careful what you put online”, “it’ll be there forever”, “it can cost you a job in the future”, etc. Why is it that tweets, in this way, has become an issue when they are using something that has been posted in public? I would understand if the profile of that person were set to private or only for friends to view, but not if it were public.

Also, when reading Capturing History, 280 Characters at a Time and Crowdsourcing Traumatic History: Understanding the Historial Archive, I started thinking about the Manchester Together Archive. This archive was created after the Manchester Arena in England was attacked by a bomber in May 2017. According to the website, “over 10,000 objects were left by members of the public in spontaneous memorials” all over the city. The archive was established as organizations collected the items to preserve and document them and the even that had occurred. The digital archive is still under construction but one thing that I thought would be interesting would be to see how people coped with the event in their own ways.

Of course, the act of leaving items as a memorial is a form of coping, but that wasn’t the only thing that came out of the event. During the event, social media had a large role in spreading the news of the bombing as well as determining what happened. After the event, there were also performances that were dedicated to the victims as well as songs created by Ariana Grande (since people were leaving her concert at the time of the bombing). The songs she created were her way of trying to cope with the situation as well as pay tribute to those that died or were injured. It would be interesting to see how much digital culture ends up being included in the archive.

In Crowdsourcing Traumatic History: Understanding the Historial Archive, they also discuss how “’historial’ archives aim to collect material in real time and focus on the ephemera of an event rather than on more authoritative, mediated artifacts.” I liked this focus because it allows the public to “curate” their own archive instead of the archive being put together by some with an agenda. This is not to say that there would not be any biases with this approach but, since it is coming from the populate that is affected, it would decrease the percentage of biases that are included.

Across many of the readings, it has been noted that archives should be in the hands of those that the items represent. This way, the people can represent themselves as opposed to having an outside entity controlling their representation. This is most evident in the Archival encounters: rethinking access and care in digital colonial archives reading which discusses the archive of the US Virgin Islands (USVI) that was put together by Denmark as a way to celebrate the former Danish West Indies. At one point in the reading, Daniela Agostinho states, “The goal was to transfer inactive government records as well as remaining Danish records, to the safekeeping of the National Archives, since the USVI had neither the facilities nor the staff to take care of them.” My first thought was, if the USVI were to create a facility to house the information and find a way to maintain them, would it even be allowed to do so? This is the same thing that happened to the Greece when they asked for the Elgin Marbles back from the British Museum. The British Museum indicated that Greece did not have the proper location to store or display the marbles, and so the Acropolis Museum was built, but the marbles have yet to be returned.