Week Five: Our Desire to Archive

This week’s topic on Archive Fever and it’s problems in the social networked era.


An Archive is essentially stored information, organised in a way to make accessing the information possible and more efficient. There are examples of archiving weaved through our daily lives, from your study’s bookshelf to your itunes library on your computer. All these archiving platforms attain a level of power and authority, as they have the ability to expose and limit our access to information. Within this week’s readings, this is referred to as what is “inside” and “outside”.  An example would be the considerable censorship in China, especially the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. To this date,  search engines and archives in China have eradicated this incident from records, banning any content related. This example elicits the importance of archiving and the power it possesses in maintaining and manipulating history.


Archiving is purely instinctual and inherent to our thought processes as humans. Our ability to devise a sense of order to information and content hinders the term ‘Archive Fever’. Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher, coined the term ‘Archive Fever’ in order to understand the human process of archiving, and our impetus in completing such a task. Our modern society is based on structure, a thought out and concise order. Derrida proposed that such a intuition to order and structure information is inherently human. On a more emotive level, there is also the process of archiving which involves humans desire to archive thoughts, experiences and conversations. This process is witnessed through social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Thus Derrida establishes what archiving provides to a society and what archiving provides to our sense of selves.


However, individuals propose issues to Derrida’s belief in such a interpersonal, spiritual awareness. Matthew Ogle writes within article ‘Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web’, that social networks such as Facebook dictate what information is necessary to a profile. I am asked my political views, sexuality, and religious beliefs. I have no ability to inform the public of information on which Facebook does not ask of me such as future aspirations or musical instruments I may be learned in. Thus, as Ogle argues, who is really being the archivist in my own life? Is it me? or Mark Zuckerberg?


Facebook’s dominance in the social network marketplace is due partially to it’s impressive archiving tools and applications.

*Note in the video (1:20s) where they begin mentioning the mass of data stored on Facebook and it’s archiving capabilities.



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

Ogle, Matthew (2010). ‘Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web’, www.mattogle.com , Accessed 26th of March 2013, <http://mattogle.com/archivefever/>

Stieger, Bernard (2003) ‘Our Ailing Educational Institutions’, Culture Machine, 5, Accessed 26th of March 2013, <http://www.culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/article/viewArticle/258/243>

Zhao, Ziyang (2009). ‘The Origins of the 1989 Student Movement’. Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang. Simon & Schuster.


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