Archiving in Excess?

In Derrida’s view, placing something into an archive is a way of protecting and preserving an item of importance. For something to be placed into an archive, it is to say that that object is so important that it needs to be available to anyone who may want to access it as well. As stated on page nine, the word “archive” originally comes from the Greek “arkheion” which was a building that housed the “archons”, or those that governed. These citizens not only held great amounts of political power, but also symbolized that power. Because of their recognized authority, it was at that place that was their home, their “arkheion”, that official documents were kept. These were documents that described the laws of the land and thus needed to be protected. Derrida uses another Greek term to describe the state of these documents: “domiciliation”, meaning house arrest. Derrida is using this term to refer to the state of the documents that are kept in the house, and to once again to stress their importance. He states that this marks the, “institutional passage from the private to the public. . ..” (Derrida, 10). In present times, it is easy to see evidence of the evolution of the Greek “arkheion”. Across the developed world, governments have a dedicated location for their most prized documents. In Washington D. C., the building is called “The National Archives”, and this is where the nation’s most important documents are kept. Documents like the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence can be seen here. By Derrida’s definition, both the ancient Greek arkheion and the modern archive fit the description of an archive. As referenced to the original Greek form of an archive, as well as the example of a modern one, an archive is often a collection of governing documents, symbolizing a defining aspect of a nation, or how the nation is governed. However, as technology has improved, so have the means of archiving something. While in the past, for an event or item to be remembered, written documentation would have to be created for it. Now, not even the item has to be preserved, a simple digital photograph can be taken of a major event or artifact and it is then saved for others to access it. In Misty Keasler’s “Photo Not Taken”, this realization is what prevents her from taking the photograph of the abusive father. She recognizes that if she takes that photo, it is archived for others to possibly see. In this new age where anything can be instantly archived, creates its own problems where things are possibly being archived in excess. Are we as humans archiving too much now? For example, take a look at social media, specifically the big three in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These are literally constantly evolving and progressing living archive of our thoughts, feelings and experiences. As far as we know, they’ll be there forever. Is the collection of these thoughts, feelings and experiences from the average Joe Schmo necessary? While I understand when the tweets of former president Barack Obama are archived, as they represent the views of a very important man in American history, not everyone is the president and maybe not everyone needs the same form of archival that they receive.


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