From Instant History to the Infinite Archive: Digital Archiving, Memory and the Practical Past at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media

Published: Aug 21, 2018
Digital History Digital Media Archives Practical Past
Pedro Telles da Silveira

The September 11 Digital Archive and Hurricane Memory Digital Bank, both developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (CHNM) of George Mason University, are among two of the best known and most successful digital archiving initiatives. Though relatively old by internet standards and no longer receiving new submissions, both present a new understanding of what an archive is and its role regarding memory in contemporary society. Digital archives represent a convergence of social time and computer time, thus speeding the production of memory until it is contemporary of the event itself. This stretches the historical event beyond its limits but also means that the archive is created along with the event – it is an instant archive, so to speak. This contribution ends with a discussion on data accumulation in relation to Hayden White's notion of the practical past.

Article Details
  • Section
Download data is not yet available.
Author Biography
Pedro Telles da Silveira, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)
A graduate student at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), in Brazil, I study the theoretical implications of digital history for historical knowledge. I also have experience in the fields of early modern historical writing, antiquarianism, Brazilian colonial literature and issues regarding theory of history in general.
Assmann, Aleida. Espaços da recordação: formas e transformações da memória cultural. Campinas: Editora da UNICAMP, 2011.
Brennan, Sheila, and T. Mills Kelly. “Why Collecting History Online is Web 1.5.” In Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, March 2009. Accessed.
Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. “The Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future is a Memory.” Critical Inquiry 35/1 (2008): 148–71.
Cohen, Daniel. “Digital History: The Raw and the Cooked.” In Rethinking History 8/2 (2004): 337–40.
Cohen, Daniel. “The Future of Preserving the Past.” In CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship 2/2 (2005): 6–19.
Danniau, Fien. “Public History in a Digital Context. Back to the Future or Back to Basics?” BMGN: Low Countries Historical Review 128/4 (2013): 118–44.
Derrida, Jacques. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Ernst, Wolfgang. Digital Memory and the Archive. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Pres, 2013.
Felman, Shoshana. The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.
Flórez, Jairo António Melo. “Historia digital: la memoria en el archive infinito.” Historia Crítica 43 (2001): 82–103.
Fogu, Claudio. “Digitalizing Historical Consciousness.” In History and Theory, Theme Issue 48/2 (2009): 103–21.
Hess, Aaron. “In Digital Remembrance: Vernacular Memory and the Rhetorical Construction of Web Memorials.” In Media, Culture & Society 29/5 (2007): 812–30.
Huyssen, Andreas. Presents Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003.
Jarvis, Lee. “9/11 Digitally Remembered? Internet Archive, Vernacular Memories and” In Journal of American Studies 45/4 (2011): 793–814.
Jarvis, Lee. “Remember, Remember: 11 September: Memorializing 9/11 on the Internet.” Journal of War & Culture Studies 3/1 (2010): 69–82.
LaCapra, Dominick. History in Transit: Experience, Identity, Critical Theory (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004).
Lorenz, Chris. “Blurred Lines: Memory and the Experience of Time.” International Journal for History, Culture, and Modernity 2/1 (2014): 43–62.
Lucchesi, Anita. “Conversas na antessala da academia: o presente, a oralidade e a história pública digital.” História Oral 17/1 (2014): 39–69.
Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001.
Mudrovcic, Maria Inés. “About Lost Futures or the Political Heart of History.” Historein 14/1 (2014): 7–21.
Noiret, Serge. “‘Public History’ e ‘Storia Pubblica’ nella rete.” Ricerche Storiche 39/2-3 (2009): 275–327.
Reynolds, Simon. Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past. London: Faber and Faber, 2011.
Rigney, Ann. “When the Monograph is no Longer the Medium: Historical Narrative in the Online Age.” History & Theory 49/4 (2010): 100–17.
Rosenzweig, Roy, and Daniel J. Cohen. “Collecting History Online.” In Clio Wired: The Future of the Past in the Digital Age, ed. Roy Rosenzweig, 124–52. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.
Rosenzweig, Roy, and David Thelen. The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
Rosenzweig, Roy. Clio Wired: The Future of the Past in the Digital Age. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.
Rosenzweig, Roy. Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, 2005. Accessed.
Steedman, Carolyn. Dust. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011.
White, Hayden. “The Practical Past.” In The Practical Past, 3–24. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2014.