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An Archivist walks into a Digital Humanities bar....


When reading about databases in Micheal Christie's Computer Databases and Aboriginal Knowledge, I didn't even comtemplate the concept of an an archive becuase my mind categorized the two of them as the same thing. This was especially because Christie tries to portray the cultural significance and rawness that a database has. A definition put together from his words would put databases as not innocent objects... "They carry within them particular culturally and historically contingent assumptions about the nature of the world, and the nature of knowledge; what it is, and how it can be preserved and renewed"..."Databases do not contain knowledge, they contain information (ie ones and zeros in particular formation). Education is not the transmission of information from one head to another (see (Reddy 1979), it is the negotiated production of knowledge in context (Turnbull 1997)". Examining these further I would say that a database is really sounding like an archive and vice versa, but when getting to the second set of quotes that says a database does not containknowledge could flip the switch for me. Maybe because I would have considered a database as containing knowledge myself. 

If an archive is saying that it contains knowledge, that's something I can get on board with. Let's see what Kate Theimer has to say in Archives in Context and as Context( She uses an interesting dilemna to explain the differences that archives and digital humanities hold. That dilemna is of a tourist from the country of Archive visiting the country of Digital Humanities and realizing that they are very misunderstood and represented. She then uses a formal definition endorsed by the Society of American Archivists- "Materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator, especially those materials maintained using the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control". She goes further in fighting for the authenticity in preservation of the materials "collected" and definately does not like using that word out of it's simplicity and lack of thought. Throughout the reading you get the sense that she would not consider and archive a database because of her desire to preesrve the authenticity of the pure and raw material, not in aggregates of it's information or pure number of copies. While she doesn't explicitly use the word knowledge, I think it's fair it fastening that word to the contents of an archive, over information, because of the autheniticity to it's sources that it provides.


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