Digital Archiving Creates an Immense Wealth of History

With digital archiving in all its forms, however, a new regime of technologies for holding past experience has emerged. Our past has always been malleable, but now it is malleable with a new viscosity. Whereas in the past our experiences were frequently (literally!) pigeonholed into rigid classification systems, leading to a relative paucity of tales we could tell of our past, today the traces have multiplied and the rigid classifications are withering. (Who now does a “tree” search using Yahoo categories in preference to the random access mode of Google?) New forms of governmentality, based on holding knowledge about the past, are emerging in which the map and the statistic become the prime instruments for governing the territory. It is not that we have the ability to aggregate brute numbers—that has been available since the early 19th century at least in a number of domains (notably the insurance industry; Yates, 1993). Rather, it is that we can aggregate that data along multiple different dimensions, and perform complex operations over that set of dimensions. It is the pleats and the folds of our data rather than their number that constitute their texture. There is a new, rich interiority accompanying the faster global exchange of information and people. I have access to my fleeting thoughts of previous years in my Eudora outboxes, all carefully kept since memory is so cheap today (contrast with the scrapbooks of previous generations). My subconscious and unconscious vie in what could be called my “paraconscious” —the massive sets of traces of my past that I have randomly accessible to me (cf. Derrida, 1995).


We once had to document history, but now our lives are documented for us all over the place online.

Folksonomies: information technology history memory

/science/social science/philosophy (0.577406)
/style and fashion/clothing/skirts (0.570608)
/science/social science/history (0.563400)

digital archiving (0.991029 (positive:0.433885)), rigid classification systems (0.899584 (negative:-0.360222)), multiple different dimensions (0.864674 (positive:0.231810)), random access mode (0.864236 (neutral:0.000000)), early 19th century (0.855168 (neutral:0.000000)), faster global exchange (0.840480 (positive:0.711189)), Immense Wealth (0.722004 (positive:0.617613)), new regime (0.704216 (positive:0.351777)), past experience (0.697601 (positive:0.351777)), new viscosity (0.696280 (positive:0.209809)), place online (0.690659 (neutral:0.000000)), rigid classifications (0.687373 (neutral:0.000000)), past our experiences (0.676021 (negative:-0.239336)), unconscious vie (0.674044 (neutral:0.000000)), brute numbers—that (0.673322 (neutral:0.000000)), relative paucity (0.669749 (neutral:0.000000)), rich interiority (0.665376 (positive:0.711189)), fleeting thoughts (0.664195 (negative:-0.721984)), Yahoo categories (0.659134 (neutral:0.000000)), prime instruments (0.652707 (neutral:0.000000)), New forms (0.650739 (neutral:0.000000)), insurance industry (0.648575 (positive:0.445226)), massive sets (0.646111 (negative:-0.469925)), Eudora outboxes (0.644541 (negative:-0.721984)), complex operations (0.644411 (positive:0.413476)), previous generations (0.630310 (neutral:0.000000)), traces (0.511467 (negative:-0.469925)), history (0.484478 (positive:0.617613)), governmentality (0.482265 (neutral:0.000000)), data (0.480071 (positive:0.420463))

Yates:Person (0.762273 (negative:-0.049068)), random access:FieldTerminology (0.526849 (neutral:0.000000)), Derrida:Person (0.516301 (neutral:0.000000)), Google:Company (0.497084 (neutral:0.000000)), Yahoo:Company (0.494979 (neutral:0.000000)), insurance industry:FieldTerminology (0.469860 (positive:0.445226))

 The Past and the Internet
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book Chapter:  Bowker, Geoffrey C. (2007), The Past and the Internet, Retrieved on 2013-06-29
Folksonomies: information post modernism