It occurs to me that there is a direct relationship between the medium of the blog, a powerful content management system, and the “publication” of a discussion, a manifesto, an image, a gesture, or even just a simple idea. The current discussion on the CRUMB list suggests that the collective narrative inherent in the form of lists and online discussion is indeed so vast and untidy, that it requires an extraordinary effort and tenacious researcher to reign it all in. This is indeed unfortunate when a researcher, a historian, or an artist is attempting to publish a historical text that draws from these conversations. It is daunting to reach into the common record, as Vannevar Bush might have pointed out, when the common record consists of a huge body of emails and other ephemeral material scattered throughout the hard drives of its key participants. With the transitory nature of this body of knowledge, mostly un-tagged and severed by broken links and servers no longer existing – and of course hardly aggregated – how do we even attempt to assemble a common record that we can all access for purposes of research, let alone navigate in some kind narrative fashion.
For me, the place to start is through experimentation with my own archive as a body of work to be organized, annotated, integrated, and published. I can’t alter the practices of the media arts community (nor do I wish to), but what I can do is keep pushing the concept of the open source studio forward in order to gather together an archival-body made up of ruminations and artistic aspirations of my own making on a multitude of topics – these themes fully searchable and navigable – resulting in some kind of as yet undefined published form: whether it be print, hypermediated, databased, or all of the above.
Using my reportage and studio antics as this prototypical archival-body of knowledge and artistic work, I envision a very personal common record resulting in a realization of the gesamtdatenwerk (I hope that’s not too grandiose!). Most of all, this approach to the gesamtdatenwerk has the potentiality to be not only functional and fully documented, but playful, informative, expansive, aspirational, and most of all: interesting (intended understatement).
The journey from raw material to narrative is a long one, but worthy of the trip. And what a trip it is.