I wanted to create a project around my fascination with national archives and the process of archiving history. For example, I have always wondered how do we archive- is there a system for archiving? What artifacts are worthy of lifetime preservation for their value as a record of culture and humanity? The buildings that house these important artifacts of civilization are often large, complex and beautiful structures filled with long rows of books and paper copies of the our most valuable documents. How would it be possible to have something like this in the future, where most of our valued records, documents and information have been recorded online with digital technology?
Archiving digital history
What happens when technology phases out and who would decide what to store and delete from our endless digital records? Will history re-write itself online? Maybe with an AI or by accident as technology evolves and changes over time?
I created a mindmap for archives to examine what an archive is and how they work. This led to research that took me down a ton of rabbit holes! I researched HP Autonomy (a system that sorts and processes data for a company using IDOL technology to recognize patterns), Darktrace (an autonomously acting cyber defense technology), Hereditary Lottery Fund and of course physical archives, like the National Archive in DC.
In doing all this research into how our digital records would be kept and updated, I ended up getting too in the weeds and my idea got too big and sprawling.
At first, I wanted to create an archive exhibit where you you were classified into a digital archive based on a google search of your name or your facebook profile using facebook suggestions. In your profile you can find all the categories that facebook stores about you. For example, during the election I posted that I would vote for Hillary and saw that facebook had labeled me “very liberal.”
However, I couldn’t figure out how I would access to everyone’s facebook information and there is not alway enough info on google. I also struggled with what the space and audience would be. I researched this concept for way too long and ended on HP Autonomy and Dark Trace. Two companies using pattern recognition to decipher complex raw data. After working on this idea for 3 hours, I stopped and revisited it later in the night and decided to come up with something playful and light.
I decided to boil down it down into something much more playful and simple that ultimately encourages people to begin thinking about how we will record our digital history.
- National Archives
- HP Autonomy
- Philip K. Dick’s “Man in the High Castle”
- social media users
An “Alternative Fact Generator” that takes historical accounts of events and re-orders or redacts them so they create a very different story with an unpredictable outcome.
The new “facts” would live online on their own site and would also publish daily on twitter as an “alternative facts generator” twitter bot.