We may not even know it, but we live in an archive-obsessive society, struck with the constant need to trace our past and shape our future. We’re continuously accessing different sorts of data all throughout our days, and things haven’t been more easier with the advent of technology and web-based products. This is a demonstration of, what Derrida would call, ‘Archive Fever’.
What is an archive? An archive is essentially any platform that allows us to store data and access it later (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archive). This could range from books, newspapers, magazine racks, CD stores to the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Emails, E-readers, downloads and online documents. Our lives depend on it as much as it depends on our input. Archives are purely extensions to our human physical selves, providing a space to store data that cannot be accumulated in our brains.
Having said that, archives have become the embodiment of ‘authority’. They provide the gateway to information but have managed to control the sort of information we receive. For example, with the online site ‘MySchool’; (http://www.myschool.edu.au/), information provided is merely quantitative rather than qualitative. We’re given a certain amount of freedom to search through its database, however ultimately; the information available is narrowed down to basic categories believed to serve its audiences suitably.
Archives – as we know it or not – surrounds us on a daily basis. Archives act as storages to our lives and largely affect our ways of livelihood. It shapes our values, norms, culture and ultimately society. On an individual basis, it effects our perceptions, emotions, behaviors and beliefs. This could come from the most abstract definition of an archive or it could come from the most basic form of an archive, such as religious texts (Bibles, Qu’rans), law manuscripts, school records, social networking sites and mobile texts. Essentially, archives have played a dramatic role in constituting our perceptions of reality.
It seems obvious then, that we’ve all been struck with ‘archive fever’. Everyone experiences it, lives it, acts on it, whether they’re aware of it or not. This shows through our constant interaction with social networking sites and our admiration towards the web’s ability to ‘remember’ actions. It keeps track of our lives and ‘grounds’ us. I suppose that’s how publishing plays such a significant role in our lives, it acts as a reminder to who we are as people, and who we could be in the future.