Theories –> practices –> archive fever

The archivist produces more archive, and that is why the archive is never closed. It opens out of the future.


Theories, as Andrew states in the lecture this week, are a “form of mediation/communication between ideas and practices” that allow us new ways of “understanding familiar things, so that we can work with them differently; or sometimes so that they might work differently.”

So, for example, classical conditioning is a theory. It connects the idea that learning occurs through interactions with the environment with the practice below. (as performed by Ivan Pavlov).

Now let’s look at archive fever. Jacques Derrida, author of ‘Archive Fever’, argues that archives are a basis for authority by having an ability to determine what is “inside” and “outside” out culture.

Ironically, Julie Enszer’s blog post, which summarises the writings of Derrida, is part of an archive surrounding his work . The irony is seen where she notes: “the archive is shaped by the “paternal and patriarchic, principle only posited itself to repeat itself and returned to re-posit itself only in parricide”.

archive fever


Further, we can see in the above photo that Facebook is a prime example of an archive. On Derrida’s page there is a year-by-year recording of his activities, and his information, photos and interests (“likes”) are categorised also. I think this highlights the 3 definitions of what archives are (as stated in the lecture):

  • a basis for individual or collective memory (we can view what happened in 2009 where our memories fail us)
  • a basis for authority, social formations, culture (those that have “liked” his page have formed a community)
  • a basis for individual/collective experience (we can experience as a community the activities of Derrida*)

*the guys that run his page

As Ogle comments: “without deliberate planning, we have created amazing new tools for remembering. The real-time web might just be the most elaborate and widely-adopted architecture for self-archival ever created.”

However he also notes a problem with this – “the current philosophy underlying most of the real-time web is that if it’s not recent, it’s not important. This is what we need to change.”

The way in which digital media advancements have influenced this is phenomenal (as I mention in every blog post). Omeka is one good example of this. As explained on their site, Omeka is “a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions. Its “five-minute setup” makes launching an online exhibition as easy as launching a blog.” I.e. technology = archive-making in 5 minutes. Me having this blog for example, is me setting up an archive. Thank you WordPress.

PS. I know Andrew suggested avoiding using Facebook as an example, but I couldn’t help but think it was the easiest way to exemplify the idea!