Cohen & Rosenzweig (C&R), and Prom, both focus on the peculiar definition the world has regarding the word “archive”. Most people think of archives as being dusty collections of vast information. Most of it useless and unessential. C&R and Prom see archives as something totally different. Both see it as a means of gathering information and broadly delivering it. Prom sees it as a “usable record of that messy human experience”. C&R see the internet as more than just a shuttling of “information between and among people”.
Archives aren’t a stodgy, old way of showing information from the past! It is the ability to exchange and disseminate information the world over! Archivists are the private eyes and detectives of the world. They piece together bits of information and weave from it a tapestry of history and knowledge. With privacy getting more important and digital information somewhat able to easily disappear, archivists are having to work harder than ever.
Unfortunately, as Prom notes, “most archives have made little systematic progress in identifying, preserving, and providing access to electronic records”. This means that as history is being created (every little bit of life is history) in the digital era, it is not being archived. Although it is tough right now because “digital preservation is hard”, there are still archivists out there trying to preserve the knowledge and history of humanity and in essence, humanity itself.
So if you ever meet someone who is an archivist, do not think of them as a stodgy old librarian who collects material. They are men and women who scour the world over (both real and digital) for information and knowledge. It is these very men and women who might immortalize you someday by archiving your history. Every nugget that gets archived is due to the hard work of these private eyes and detectives, these saviors and heroes of history.