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Last active Oct 15, 2019

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Panel proposal for DH2020.

Documenting Documenting the Now

Ed Summers & Bergis Jules

Over the past four years the Documenting the Now project has been working to help build a community of practice around social media archiving that centers the ethical concerns of content creators, rather than simply the interests of cultural heritage organizations or social media platforms. Starting in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri the project developed the Ferguson Principles to help guide memory workers who are interested in documenting activism and social movements.

The Ferguson Principles have been put to work in a set of workshops with activist communities in the United States, in order to generate new knowledge practices for memory work in the age of social media. In addition the project has also been actively developing a portfolio of tools for data collection, publishing and analysis and using existing web archiving tools to help cultivate new approaches, and relationships between archivists, researchers and content creators.

In this presentation we will highlight some of the challenges the project has faced while developing tools and practices for memory work using social media platforms. We will discuss the project’s approach to tool development that has been informed by minimal computing practices (GIl, 2015) and slow archives (Christen and Anderson, 2019). Implications for web archiving work more generally will be drawn out, especially with regard to the ontological politics (Mol, 1999) of web archives, and the means by which regions of the web are preserved, and for whom they are preserved.


Christen, K. and Anderson, J. (2019). Toward slow archives. Archival Science, 19:87–116.

Gil, A. (2015). The user, the learner and the machines we make. Minimal Computing. Retrieved from http://go-dh.github.io/mincomp/thoughts/2015/05/21/user-vs-learner/

Mol, A. (1999). Ontological politics. a word and some questions. The Sociological Review, 47(S1):74–89.

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