Fever – week 5

In Archive Fever, Jacques Derrida points out that the notion of archiving has fruitfully brought us an extended meditation on remembrance, time and technology. The word ‘Archive’ simply means different media processes which in turn often form the basis of cultural activity: Electronic media, particularly e-mail, just like today’s social networking platforms has transformed the entire public and private space of humanity (Derrida, J, 1996).

Archives both reflect and shape society at certain points in time. Identity and time, these are two critical aspects of the theory. It was once suggested that archive constructs different ways of publishing which constitute institutions, modes of living, our sense of who we are, both individually and collectively (Stokes, J, 2003).

With the advent of the digital and social media, it seems that personal archiving has grown. For instance, I often find myself rearranging my photos on my phone as I take new photos randomly. I also actively engage in naming folders on my laptop and sorting file types, new and old files, almost every day. Additionally, I usually share the photos and files with my friends via Facebook. It can be seen that we are creating archives of our lives, our experiences, our thoughts, and every tiny little matter we come across everyday.

Furthermore, “Instagram” is a good example in describing the word “archives”. Instagram is a free photo sharing program launched in October 2010 allows us to take an instant picture and share on it. Facebook gradually partnership with / take over instagram, and that these two separated media platforms have been incorporated, then a new collection of archives is formed.

Moreover, what interests me most about archiving is the power in deciding what is stored, what is left out and who gets to make these decisions. With the prevalence of the internet has come an incredible broadening of the modes of publishing. The ease at which everyone with an internet connection can become a publisher has meant that the process of archiving has experienced a social equaliser.

What is stored and what is destroyed has now taken the form of a meritocracy. Originally it was the elite who had the power to choose what is stored and what is destroyed, now it is anyone with access to the internet. This has led to an explosion in publishing and archiving. This is what I take to mean Archive Fever.

In conclusion, I think that archiving the provenance of us being so deeply immersed in mediated cultures and enthusiastic to experiment with different modes of publishing like social media and eReaders. Not only us individuals embrace archiving and are mostly unaware of how this habit has affected us, even has defined authority in institutions and the market operate according to their different kinds archives.


Derrida, Jacques (1996) Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Stokes, Jon (2003) ‘Reading Notes: Archive Fever’, Ars Technica, June 27, <http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2003/06/130.ars> accessed on 25 March 2012

Instagram, Inc., 2012, <http://instagr.am/> accessed on 25 March 2012

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