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Digital Social Memory: Ethics, Privacy, and Representation in Digital Preservation

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Public Programs

Digital Social Memory: Ethics, Privacy, and Representation in Digital Preservation

February 4 2017

With the in-house development of Webrecorder —an initiative that puts high-fidelity web archiving and playback capabilities into the hands of users— Rhizome has been working toward the goal of fostering a more durable, ethical, decentralized, and inclusive future for digital social memory.


If social memory can be defined as “how and what social groups remember,” then digital culture, as Richard Rinehart and Jon Ippolito point out, changes both the what and the how of social memory. What is remembered must now include a wide range of new kinds of web-specific cultural practices; how it is remembered is often mediated by new technical environments. Digital social memory often takes shape in informal settings outside of traditional institutions, and is often subjected to invasive surveillance and unwanted publicity.

This conference convened a diverse range of experts in various facets of digital social memory for an afternoon of case-studies and conversations addressing the implications of Webrecorder’s model for the web archiving field and for digital social memory as a whole. It contained the following three panels: 

Archival Narratives and Counter-narratives
Mehdi Yahyanejad, Josh Miller, Dragan Esenscheid and moderator Shannon Mattern 

Fair Use, Publicity, and Privacy
Michael Connor, Jack Cushman, Bruce Goldner and Amanda Levendowski

Failures of Care 
Bergis Jules, Simone Browne, Doreen St. Felix and Kameelah Janan Rasheed

This program was organized by Michael Connor, Artistic Director, Rhizome, with Aria Dean, Assistant Curator, Rhizome.