It age is causing us to neglect the

It
wouldn’t be illogical to suggest that this growing accessibility for archives
in the digital age is causing us to neglect the authenticity of memory work.
Ultimately, the democratization of the knowledge system would then lateralize
power and destabilize the hierarchy that had been grounded since the formation
of the archive concept in Ancient Greece. What I want to explore in this essay
is the benefits and the setbacks of this theory; how would having unrestricted
public access to the archive in the digital age be both useful and harmful to
society?

Since
the 20th century advancements of technology, the abundance of
digital presence is unmissable. Our world is different now and we are no longer
as exclusively restricted from accessing archives as we once were, and
ultimately, this is because of our endeavour into the Digital and Information Age.
Our generation are now host to an unfathomable amount of online storage, data
collection and computer software that allows us to invoke memory and learn
history. Sociologist David Beer suggests that this new media is transient,
saying that “Popular culture and new media, particularly when in tandem,
move together quite rapidly, plus they are defined by ephemerality,
fragmentation and splintering. They are in flux, they are protean and mobile,
transient and changeable, chaotic and ephemeral. Popular culture and new media,
particularly when in tandem, move together quite rapidly, plus they are defined
by ephemerality, fragmentation and splintering. They are in flux, they are
protean and mobile, transient and changeable, chaotic and ephemeral.”

 

 

This
transient, ephemeral nature of new media archiving can be seen especially in
the postmodern rewriting of history. By rewriting, I am referring to the
unrestricted, and easily edited, online encyclopaedia websites such as Wikipedia.
Boasting over five million articles, Wikipedia is reported by Time
as being the third most influential and populated website in the world (Time,
2017: web); however, unlike the early century encyclopaedias that were written
and published by the elite (Independent, 2011: web), Wikipedia enables
its articles, which contain a vast array of historical accounts and memory
work, to be edited and scripted by members of the public at no discretion or
contestation, without qualification and warrant; this is what Derrida would
describe as being harmful to the integrity of our history; if we are in a constant
state of editing and rewriting the past, are we leading to perpetual infancy?

Music Archiving

Collecting
and memory work, in its traditional tangibility, is a process that philosopher
Walter Benjamin suggests is inherently social (1968). He describes the
importance of the acquisition of a book for archiving as being quintessential
to its tangibility: “the period, the region, the craftsmanship, the former
ownership – for a true collector the whole background of an item adds up to a
magic encyclopaedia whose quintessence is the fate of his object” (p. 60). When
comparing this conventional archiving concept to today’s contemporary mediums,
it is interesting to explore the way
popular culture is stored and experienced as memory through digital archiving. The
authors’ focus on the broader narrative they are constructing, while entirely
appropriate, serves to obscure record keeping dimensions that can profoundly
shape social interactions and memory of them.” (Cox, R. J. & Wallace, D.
A., 2002: 2)

 In particular, I want to focus on the
archiving of music; Spoitfy, iTunes and Shazam are all key
examples of the digital data storage used in the music industry today that
allows users to stream, share and archive content. Through revisiting old music
and discovering new, we are effectively the curators of our own archives – this
theory binds with my upcoming discussion of social media archiving. However, in response to the
significance of tangible archiving that Walter Benjamin proposes, does the
notion that we are now intangibly storing our music collections online mean
that we are losing our material connection with archiving and therefore
entering a ‘memory crisis’? (Terdiman, 1993). Furthermore, it is increasingly distinguishable that there is a homogeneity
at play when all songs, albums and compositions are now collectively reduced
into the same bitesize format; despite vinyl sales increasing in 2015
(Guardian, 2017: web), Benjamin would suggest that gone are the days we would
hunt for record shops to sift through the abundance of LP’s, tape decks and C-Ds
to store, display and archive for our memory work. However, neuropsychologist
Lutz Jäncke, along with common perception, states that music is powerful enough
to invoke memory – memory of times, places and events, (2008). I would therefore
be inclined, to determine that digitally storing music is a fair means of
archiving – furthermore, it performs under Cambridge dictionary’s definition:
“in computer technology, to store electronic information that you no
longer need to use regularly”.