ARTS2090 Wk 5: Archive Fever March 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Winnie Ho @ 3:01 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

A lot of media forms that are usually seen as platforms or tools for publishing are also becoming archives themselves. When we think of archives in the traditional sense, images of libraries and toppling shelves of data/information on paper pop in our minds. A new form of archive that intrigues me is YouTube.

To be honest, I spend a lot of my online presence on YouTube because it is just a never endless plethora of media on the site. It is essentially a video sharing site, but it contains not only the videos themselves (within the Flash or HTML5 box where videos play), but archives a lot of textual information, hyperlinks and statistical data as well. There are various methods of accessing archived material: by searching (and sorting by view count, upload date etc), by channel (the uploader), by playlists, embedded on external sites, and so on.

There is no real limit to the style of content uploaded and archived on the site, except subjected to laws. The relatively high level of freedom ought to be a positive aspect of YouTube for media producers and consumers, however, quite a number of issues have arose as well. Firstly, YouTube is available nearly globally, which implies that it requires a very planned strategy to ensure content in the archive does not violate laws or government policies in other countries (hard to enforce and a major problem for all Internet content now), which has lead to a complete or partial ban in some countries like the People’s Republic of China. Following up on the first point, how does the provenance of YouTube prevent minors from access content on the site that are otherwise classified as unsuitable for minors in other media forms? For instance, minors can easily access video content on YouTube of video games that have MA15+ rating in Australia; so while they are legally not permitted to purchase these MA15+ games, what about viewing the video format of the games? Thirdly, despite YouTube constantly making changes to the way it archives and displays content in attempt for better accessibility, one often still needs to ‘dig through’ a lot of videos they deem as meaningless to find the archived content that they wish to access. The complexities in such a large and diverse archive raises interesting questions and implications for archives as a form of publishing.

Winnie Ho (3292568)


Stokes, Jon (2003) ‘Reading Notes: Archive Fever’, Ars Technica, June 27, <>

Howard, Sharon (2005) ‘Archive fever (a dusty digression)’, Early Modern Notes, June 15, < digression/>

Enszer, Julie R. (2008) Julie R. Enszer (personal blog), ‘Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression by Jacques Derrida’, November 16, < impression-by.html>

Ogle, Matthew (2010) ‘Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web’,, December 16, <>


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