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Annotating the Archive
I ask these questions in the spirit of fruitful iterations. And I address my questions to the designers, contributors, and users of the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, or HDMB.
1. The HDMB smartly encourages different kinds of movement. We can move through the archive via multiple media. We read textual accounts of destruction and desolation, of coming together and coming apart. We see photographs of strewn trees, strewn homes, and strewn families. We can also move through the archive via virtual geography. We use the google map mash-up to gather stories from different parts of the region. In addition to moving through the archive via multiple media and virtual geography, what other kinds of movements are possible, desirable, and/or under development?
2. One of the great things about digital objects – and digital archives – is the ease with which we connect them. For example, with HDMB, I click the tab labeled “images” and can connect to 515 photographs. I click the tab labeled “stories” and can connect to 180 stories. What kinds of connections does HDMB afford that would be impossible with a traditional archive? What kinds of artifactual juxtapositions does HDMB bring about that would be improbable with a traditional archive?
3. The hottest neologism in today’s western web world is web 2.0. We can debate what it means, yet it’s difficult to deny its assumption: that today’s online environments are dramatically different from those from, say, 1994. One difference is the ability to annotate. In 1994, it was difficult to alter or add – to annotate – an individual’s or organization’s home page. Today, we expect it. When I visit the HDMB, when I read the stories and see the images, I want to comment. I want to ask questions. I want to lend support. Thus, my final question: Is it possible and is it desirable to add annotation to the archive?
- David Silver, University of Washington, 04.20.2006