Capturing the ephemeral: Archiving our digital present

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I was invited today by the American Centre in Colombo today to deliver a lecture on digital archives in general, from the perspective of a citizen archivist. The presentation looked at the ways information around contemporary events, issues and processes, in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, are being generated digitally and largely lost for posterity, raising the challenge of archiving this plethora of content. The presentation also looked at how subjective curation, collective participation, the democratisation of technical platforms and their use have radically altered how we perceive our past, re-examine our present and capture multiple truths.

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Capturing the ephemeral: Archiving our digital present

  1. Capturing the ephemeral: Archiving our digital present Sanjana Hattotuwa Centre for Policy Alternatives TED Fellow Alumn
  2. Origin early 17th cent. (in the sense ‘place where records are kept’): from French archives (plural), from Latin archiva, archia, from Greek arkheia ‘public records’, from arkhē ‘government’. ! The verb dates from the late 19th Century.
  3. perspective non-expert serial digitiser
  4. the change atoms to bits
  5. collection careful storage
  6. archive annotated storage {meta data}
  7. Aspiration
  8. stone to web large and heavy to 1s and 0s
  9. the web a personal archive for all every single person on earth
  10. 1 billion active users on mobile as of March 2014 ! 350 million photos uploaded every day ! 1.23 billion monthly active users as of December 2013
  11. democratisation of archiving ! folksonomy vs. taxonomy ! corporate ownership of private collections
  12. democratisation of the archive cost and access of personal archiving
  13. unlimited storage bounded only by imagination
  14. broadband faster and cheaper web access
  15. institutional archives saving digital history
  16. personal archives subjective curation
  17. • Army (1) • Berghof Foundation (2) • CaFFE – Election Monitoring (1) • Citizens Commission (1) • Citizens.lk (1) • COI (1) • Colombo Art Biennale 2014 (1) • Colomboscope (1) • Cost of War (1) • CPA (1) • Dept. of Census and Statistics (1) • Development (1) • Eastern Revival (1) • FMM (1) • Groundviews (1) • IIGEP (2) • InfoShare (1) • Jayantha Dhanapala (1) • JVP (1) • LLRC Action Plan (1) • LLRC NAP (1) • LTTE Dept. of IR (1) • LTTE Peace Secretariat (2) • MCNS (1) • Media at risk (1) • Milinda Moragoda (1) • National Freedom Front (1) • National Housing Policy (1) • NESOHR (1) • Official Languages Commission (1) • PACT (1) • Political parties (2) • Regaining Sri Lanka (1) • SCOPP (3) • SLPI & SLCJ (1) • Sri Lanka Democracy Forum (SLDF) (1) • Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (1) • Tamil National Alliance (1) • Tsunami (1) • UNF-LTTE Peace Process (1) • Vikalpa (1)
  18. 8 years of continuous operation ! 2,800 + articles | 5.6 million words ! 48,300 + comments |7.2 million words
  19. institutional archive plus personal gaze
  20. institutional archive plus personal gaze
  21. institutional archive plus personal gaze
  22. 25 years of feminist activism and output ! Over 3.6Gb of images ! Over 117 items scanned in high resolution
  23. other examples small efforts for posterity
  24. folksonomy vs. taxonomy crowdsourcing archival
  25. corporate ownership who controls the archive?
  26. My cloud based tools for archival ! Dropbox, WordPress, Google Drive, SiteSucker, Google Earth, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo
  27. Access, reuse, deletion, data loss, meta-archive rights, downtime, profit
  28. Google, Twitter, Facebook all have personal archive downloads for off-line, off-platform, long-term storage
  29. challenges for personal archivists wtf is a .wpd file & the backup disk just crashed scenarios…
  30. file formats expire
  31. storage media fail, expire, get corruption, stolen, lost
  32. social media is ephemeral
  33. DDoS attacks, web censorship, cost of recovery (time, finances, reputation), threats, abuse
  34. the future of the personal archive life streaming & semantic web
  35. from place to platform the living archive
  36. Why do it?
  37. “Tis in my memory lock'd, And you yourself shall keep the key of it.” ! William Shakespeare, Hamlet
  38. thank you ! sanjanah@cpalanka.org

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