Since I'm a little tentative about what we're supposed to be doing here, I'll tell you a little bit about an archive project that we're doing at the University of Texas, and how it might possibly relate to the group's individual/collective interests. In material terms, we're creating a digital archive for our Digital Writing and Research Lab (DWRL). In a purely quotidian sense, this involves finding a way to record and represent a lot of old junk--posters, training manuals, decaying VHS tapes, trophies--in short, material artifacts of the most traditional sense. That's probably not especially interesting to anyone else, and there are a number of journal articles out there dealing with best practices for the technical work that we're doing, so that's not really the focus here.
A second task that we noticed along the way, however, was an issue of narrative constraint. What do you do when the story you want to manage exists as a PB Works page, a Wikipedia page, and as a fragmentary history in someone else's corporate training manual? This (competely real) situation got us thinking about archival narratives in a far less concrete and more theoretical sense. What I'm suggesting is that the very restraints that online media remove--constraints of time, space, and access--are exactly the same things that make any narrative meaningful in the first place: rhetoric, discourse, and narrative (whatever differences we choose to draw between them based on our individual understanding) are in fact ways of talking about boundary conditions. No limits equals no story.
Since I'm not technically skilled and the technical questions mostly have good answers already, this is the research question that I'm interested in investigating: how to we theorize a digital archive--whatever its scope and content--that is simultaneously maximally accessible and effectively constrained enough to present a focused, cohesive archival narrative. What moves do we have to make to contain the informational sprawl that leads people into internet black holes of wasted time and irrelevant material? How do we order discourse when we thought we were doing everyone a favor by removing traditional barriers?
If this question/these questions pique/s anyone else's interest, I'd like to hear about it. We might come up with some kind of a group blog or other format in which we collaboratively work through this theoretical question with the aim of eventually applying it to our more particular and individual academic projects.