Archiving (in) Processes

Published on January 8th, 2019

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8 January 2019 @ Universität Siegen
Organised by Prof. Dr. Carolin Gerlitz


The lecture series on “Data Practices” explores data “in motion”, both theoretically, empirically and methodology. The proliferation of data-intensive media requires researchers to develop their conceptual vocabulary and socio-technical understanding of data production, calculation and their underlying practices and infrastructures. Throughout the lecture series, we ask how a praxeological account can enable us to account for the movement and transformation of data. We consider data practices as those practices involved in the making, calculation, storage, accounting and valuation of data among others which are socio-material and entangled with infrastructures. The lecture series is jointly organised by the DFG graduate school “Locating Media” and the DFG cooperative research centre “Media of Cooperation”.


Values that drive data management and the creation of collections, interfaces and infrastructures often are characterized in terms such as re-use, openness, interoperability, relationality, interdisciplinarity, and, in some cases, even post-disciplinarity. By following the proverb, “the more data, the more sharing, the more knowledge”, decisions about what texts, objects, and artefacts deserve preservation oftentimes only consider the needs and practicalities of the now.
Such a focus on the present, however, neglects that archiving is first and foremost about the collection and dissemination of knowledge for future generations whose needs are impossible to predict. 

Yet, most archives today merely function as rear-view mirrors; their methods are built on conventional infrastructures. In such cases active and dynamic data loses its performative nature. If the goal of an archival institution is to plan, produce and shape the future, what would happen if archival design embraces uncertainty and encourages speculation to create a stage where these very virtues could be performed and co-created with all those involved?
In this talk I explore different archival practices, tracing the value of data I’ll move from performative data to archiving (in) processes to show that archival methods need to change if they want to maintain their relevance in the future.

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