For my final project, I researched and wrote a paper surveying the landscape of how archiving is being practiced online in light of our increasing dependence on born-digital cultural production. By exploring the full range of search engine results for archives focused on the events of 9/11, I was able to collect a manageable sample that could be used for comparison in an attempt to identify common threads among the disparate archives, formal and informal, labeled as such and not. By breaking down each example to identify its sources, its funding, its intended audience, its content, and its organization, I was able to use those fundamental characteristics to develop a typology of 9/11 web archives. This process allowed me to cultivate a thorough understanding of what already exists, what new models may emerge, and what the ongoing preservation concerns might be. I will be able to use this conceptual model to underwrite future projects that explore digital archiving practice as an essential component of communicating cultural memory.
Having chosen to do a traditional paper rather than the digital option, I missed the opportunity to learn about executing a digital humanities project from the producer side through the process of trial and error. While I would have enjoyed working on the digital project that I proposed, the paper better served my immediate need to understand more about this aspect of historical practice that is not often the focus of scholarly work within media studies. The role of digital media, particularly the Internet’s facilitation of social networking and content-sharing, in the negotiation of competing mnemonic narratives of the past is a matter of increasing importance as new technologies continue to emerge and demands the attention of researchers going forward.