Just Another ARTS2090 Blog

Publics and Publishing in Transition

Month: March, 2012

Facebook Gives Me [Archive] Fever

If Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd most populated country worldwide. The ubiquitous social networking site is the virtual home to over 800 million active users across the globe.

Before introducing you to the concept of “archive fever”, it is crucial to understand what an “archive” is. An archive is any method of storing and organising data and information so that it can be accessed at a later date.

‘Archive fever’, a term coined by French theorist Jacques Derrida, refers to our ‘repetitive, and nostalgic desire for the archive, an irrepressible desire to return to the origin, a homesickness, a nostalgia for the return to the most archaic place of absolute commencement’ (Derrida 1996, pg. 91).

Based on Derrida’s definition of  “archive fever”, I believe he is referring to the human desire to create a collection of memories (archives), which are a permanent record that document each and every experience in our lives, so that we can easily remember and reminisce.

I believe the rapid development of the digital world, particularly social media, has prompted an epidemic of archive fever.

“By providing us with new ways to share what we’re doing right now, the real-time web also captures something we might not have created otherwise: a permanent record of the event.” (Ogle 2010)

Let’s take a look at Facebook timeline…

As the name suggests, the new profile page design compiles a timeline of your entire life, showcasing information about yourself and your friends on a single page that can be scrolled back years or months at a time, meaning  anyone can catch a glimpse into your social networking past all the way back to the day you joined Facebook. As soon as an photo, status or event is posted on Facebook, it is immediately archived. This opens up the information stored on Facebook to users, enabling data to be even more easily accessed.

Not only has Facebook created an environment for us to connect with others, but with the introduction of Facebook Timeline, it has enabled us to connect with ourselves.

Derrida (1996) explains that while the archive seems to focus on the past, it “should call into question the coming of the future.” He states, “it is a question of the future, the question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow. The archive: if we want to know what that will have meant, we will only know in times to come” (p. 36).


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

Enszer, Julie R. (2008) Julie R. Enszer (personal blog), ‘Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression by Jacques Derrida’, November 16, <http://julierenszer.blogspot.com/2008/11/archive-fever-freudian-impression-by.html>

Ogle, Matthew (2010) ‘Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web’, mattogle.com, December 16, <http://mattogle.com/archivefever/>


Assembling Assemblages

The future of the publishing world is uncertain as the industry is continuously undergoing rapid change brought about by the emergence of advanced digital technology and e-readers.

There are a number of theories and methods that assist us in analysing and rationalising the dramatic shifts in publishing, media and the social.

Just when I thought the notion of publishing was straight-forward, it got a thousand times more complicated…

In this week’s lecture we delved deeper in the world of publishing using the actor-network theory (ANT) as a method to explore publishing’s connection to broader society as a series of interwoven “assemblages” (a term coined by philosophers Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and Manuel DeLanda).

Put simply, an assemblage is a network of human and/or non-human elements or relations.

The ANT was undoubtedly something I found relatively complex and difficult to grasp. Thankfully, I stumbled across this very concise explanation of the ANT (a must-see for anyone who is having trouble comprehending the essence of the theory)

The Evolution of Publishing


Will e-readers and tablets make printed books obsolete?


Image via <http://blog.sherweb.com/e-books-vs-books-how-the-e-reader-measures-up-to-traditional-print-media/&gt;.

As e-readers and tablets continue to grow in popularity, many of us are beginning to question the future of the printed word.

These new technological devices are changing the way books are read, sold and published.

On one hand, we have individuals like Tim Bajarin, President and Principal Analyst of Creative Strategies, who believe that “it is only a matter of time before we stop killing trees and all publications become digital.”

On the other hand, we have analysts such as Allen Weiner, who believe that although the shift to digital publishing will undoubtedly force publishers to think differently, it will not “spell the demise of print (book) publishing.”

Now, I am certainly no expert on publishing, but I don’t believe that e-readers and tablets will take the place of printed books. There is something about a paper book that cannot be replaced.

No matter how portable e-readers may be, I much prefer reading off a printed book rather than a screen. I’m not sure if it’s the weight of the book in my hand or being able to physically turn the pages of a printed book, or perhaps it is the satisfaction I feel when I can visually see how much of the book I have actually read. Whatever the reason, there are just some things a digital publication can never have that a printed book always will.

There is no doubt that when it comes down to portability and practicality (particularly for frequent travellers- whether it be a long-haul flight or peak-hour transport), e-readers give a whole new definition to the phrase ‘travelling light’.

I recently returned from a vacation in Europe and believe me packing light is definitely not one of my strong suits. Whilst I was over there, I purchased a number of fashion books and magazines from different countries (evidently, the 32kg luggage restriction had completely slipped my mind). Hence, this highlights that e-readers and tablets not only save you the hassle of having to exhaustively lug around extremely heavy luggage, but also rescue you from the exorbitant excess baggage costs.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly won’t be trading my beloved printed publications for e-books anytime soon, however, I will most definitely consider investing in an e-reader or tablet before my next holiday, merely for the sake of convenience.


Image via <http://blog.sherweb.com/e-books-vs-books-how-the-e-reader-measures-up-to-traditional-print-media/&gt;.

National Public Radio (2010) ‘E-Book Boom Changes Book Selling And Publishing’, December 21, <http://www.npr.org/2010/12/21/132235154/e-book-boom-changes-book-selling-and-publishing>.

Chapman, Glenn (2011) ‘Tablets, e-readers closing book on ink-and-paper era’, Agence France-Presse, October 29, <http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/lifestyle/gadgets-and-tech/12/29/11/tablets-e-readers-closing-book-ink-and-paper-era&gt;.