With great pleasure, I’ve been reading Martin Hand‘s book Making Digital Cultures. It is a very rich account of practices that constitute digital cultures, with practices to be understood in a layered, complex sense. It’s been great to think about our investigation of database practices in relation to the concepts and fieldwork laid out by Hand in this book.
In particular, the passages about the shifts in ‘the archive’ are stimulating:
“If archival practices have been concerned to locate and fix meaning in relation to the specific contextual qualities of material things, what are the implications for this understanding of modern memory when archival things have become largely digitally mediated? What happens when these things are seen to ‘lack context’, to lack the authenticity of their analogue equivalents, where their meaning can be lost in translation? (Hand, chapter 6, page 132).”
In our fieldwork, we are witnessing and conveying the answers to this crisis, as they are enacted by actors on the ground. We seek to identify the ontologies that are effective in these settings, and to understand the work needed to encounter, produced and interact with digital mediations. We are also interested in the (practical) resolutions to issues of trust, authenticity, access, context, etc, so that these “things” that are known through the database can be involved in knowledge practices.