Blogging, Remembering and Forgetting

Blogging, Documentation and Retention

As I hemmed and hawed over my first blog post – changing topics, editing, deleting – I realized that behind my newbie jitters was lurking an issue I’ve been devoting a lot of time and space to over the last year. And that is: will this blog post be around forever? If I press ‘post’ and decide, in three years time, that the topic was all wrong, that my thoughts on the subject have now changed, that what I wrote was misguided or misinformed, will my text remain out there on the interwebs to haunt me?

This all stems from a series of talks, conversations, blog posts, etc floating around out there about ubiquitous memory. As an archivist, digital media’s promise for documenting communities from their own perspective is exciting. Projects like the Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive and the ReMap LA project are exciting examples of different, promising sorts of digital archives.

But at the same time, forgetting can be a useful process for personal and social growth. Forgetting allows us a new start, to protect private identities or reinvent those identities. This comes home to me as I sit here trying to perfect my first blog post, with the realization that whatever I say in print, even – or especially – digital print, doesn’t have a clear expiration date.

There’s been a lot of academic-y talking about what to do about digital technologies and forgetting, but not a lot of writing. I expect we’ll see more in the next year, but an accessible (both literally and technologically – you don’t need a journal subscription to read it) article which says all this better than I have:

Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School

More soon on a related issue: data retention legislation and its incumbent pressures on data ‘expiration’.



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Filed under archives, business, preservation

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