Introducing Overdue Conversations: Season 2

Jones, Thai; Moe, Melina

Although the meaning of “archive” has always been complicated, an image persists: Vast storerooms with rows of bookshelves and boxes brimming with folders, a physical space that stores books, documents, and records of our collective physical and social world.

Today, though, archives are grappling with a momentous shift. Much of the communication and content created in recent years only exists digitally. This digital transformation poses profound questions about how the form, function, and focus of archives will change–or how this digital turn has already affected the kinds of information that get stored, the way we access them, and how we share them.

As we enter a new digital era, libraries and national archives are facing big questions about preserving the enormous amount of digital content created all the time: how will it be organized and accessed, what does ownership and copyright look like? These are questions not just for academics, but for anyone who uses cares about preserving the complicated, contentious, sometimes even violent issues of our times.

Between social media, emails, and online transactions, most of us consume our news and information online. We have also become content creators, leaving digital traces that can last for years. As everyone from private citizens to presidential candidates has found out, the digital is not always ephemeral. In 2014, the European Union gave its citizens “the right to be forgotten,” or have their personal data erased from organizations. But, when a digital footprint crosses international borders, which laws will apply?

It’s hard to imagine all those digital files being sorted out so only certain ones can be made available for research. And, libraries are nearly always hampered by limited resources, with digitization one more competing demand, which asks libraries to balance the needs of local users, visiting in person, and digitizing items for a broader audience. The possible global reach was only underscored during the pandemic when schools closed and students turned to online collections.

These conversations became: Season 2 of “Overdue Conversations,” a podcast about the ways archives inform our discussions of history, literature, and politics. From digital publishing to reparative justice, climate change to public health, this series of overdue conversations takes archival documents out of the stacks and into the public forum to consider how collecting practices, selective reading, and erasure of past knowledge inform and distort contemporary debates.

In this season, we investigate how the digital revolution in archives informs these challenges.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Overdue Conversations
Published Here
November 29, 2022

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This episode's duration is: 8:03