While I couldn’t attend the Laura Wexler and Lauren Tilton’s Talk “Image, Archive and Event: Tracking the Archive’s Odyssey,” I read a lot of the responses to it on the blog, and it sounded like a fascinating lecture. I have encountered the idea of “the archive” before in other media studies classes, and interrogating the archive through a digital lens is definitely important. In today’s highly digitized world, we are always archiving our daily lives–through our posts to social media, our responses to others’ posts, and the constant nature of our dependence on technology (such as our archived google searches, the videos we watch on YouTube, etc.) leaves such a strong digital footprint, it’s hard to imagine precisely the scope of what we reveal about ourselves online.
The “permanency” of these documents and data and such being preserved in data form–meaning they can be reproduced, sent around the world, and printed out all within seconds–certainly presents a new set of challenges for future generations. As Alexander said, we are all working as archivists in the digital age. Every photo posted to Instagram and Facebook, each and every Tweet sent, these all act as markers of our time, and will very likely be around for a very, very long time. It makes me wonder how future generations will be affected by this plethora of information about us all being available with just a click of the mouse: how will future presidential elections be affected by an archived list of tweets a candidate sent out when they were 15? Or the Instagram photos they posted? Or even the ones they liked? Only time will tell how these kinds of new archive will act and function down the road, but it does call into question the function and the meaning of the “archive” of today.