[-empyre-] "Save As: Social Memory"

Jon Ippolito jippolito at maine.edu
Mon Dec 2 05:12:38 EST 2013

Ebru's panel sounds intriguing. While I'm glad to see a renewed interest in preserving software (the Preserving Virtual Worlds consortium, NDIIPP), the preservation of *social* memory is often relegated to the margins in favor of a focus on supposedly archival file formats.

But especially when talking about the role of software in organizing and promoting social protest like the Gezi resistance, the dynamic of the social network seems much more valuable historically than the individual files shared on it. 

Take "Vine," Twitter's video step child--those seven-second videos you can take with your cell phone and then upload and share. It's fairly simple to preserve the files itself, and it wouldn't be hard to migrate them to some relatively well-known codec like MPEG4. They are short, so they don’t take up much storage space.

Unfortunately, the focus on file formats ignores Vine's networked nature: Vine clips shared over Twitter, hash tags that people use for discovering and promoting them. It's tied into the commercial apparatus, with Vine micro-trailers to promote a movie years before it comes out. Vine clips can stimulate activism. All of that is invisible and lost if all you do is save a bunch of MP4s on a hard drive. 

I'm curious whether the panelists proposed any strategies for preserving the social dynamic of participatory media--perhaps some drawn from the traditions of oral and performative culture.

BTW the relevance of these older paradigms for today's social memory is a core theme of the book Rick Rinehart and I are publishing this spring (Re-collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory, http://re-collection.net).


On Nov 27, 2013, at 8:00 PM, Ebru wrote:

> "Save As: Social Memory."
> - How can we preserve the software itself along with the content it
> generates?
> - In what way should we consider software itself as the creative archive,
> *arche*, of our digital culture?
> - What new archival practices does technology-based art and culture
> present?
> - How do software, social media, and network practices introduce a sphere
> of counter-representation which curate alternative narratives of the
> present?

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