9/11 Digital Archive

The difference between a single physical site of memory and the digital one is the quantity of stories and artifacts that can be gathered, retained and shared.  The physical museum obviously has its limitations in space and resources but in the case of the 9/11 Digital Archive the possibilities can expand and allow more than just a handful of stories. Additionally the public has been given rights to include their voice from where ever that may be. I say this because as a New Yorker my peers and I tend to focus first on the towers but there were stories from the Pentagon and from the surviving families of those in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  Even little Suzy from small town Oklahoma can have her say on where she was when we were attacked, proving everyone’s voice counts. The additional value of this archive is hearing the voices of the often-silent participants who work as curators, historians, media specialist and technology professionals who cooperated on the design.

Especially touching were the voices of 9.11 here is New York link, watching these interviews taking place within the year following the event was hard to step away from and presented raw details.

The 9/11 archive project reminds me of an organization named the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience who constructs sites of memory for social justice. Most recognizable is the Lower East Side Tenement Museum but they are working on the Remembering Guantamo project where they hope to transform the old prison into a space of memory in Cuba.  About a year ago they were putting together an archive where narratives and photos would be used digitally not sure if it is complete yet. In this case going digital has its advantages because not many Americans would be able to make a trip to Cuba but I argue that a physical location is still necessary in many ways and won’t be dismissed anytime soon.  Additionally sites of memory are not only going digital for sharing information but for fundraising purposes in order to eventually produce a physical location with the narratives and artifacts collected.  I wonder if the archive was used to raise funds for the actual site in the case of 9/11?

Here is the link to the ICSOC http://www.sitesofconscience.org/categories/activities/guantanamo

Kathryn noted on her blog piece that she referred her teacher friend to use this as a tool for instruction with young people.  Using this resource could only enrich the routine classroom curriculum for young people far beyond the two-page dedication in a textbook.

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1 Response to 9/11 Digital Archive

  1. katie albany says:

    Like you Christina I also believe that the digital archive on the events of 9/11 helps to break the silence and gives voice to those who would have been unintentionally silenced otherwise. It’s true that oral literacy is more powerful than written, especially when you hear the voice of the person who went through the traumatic experience, or who was impacted gravely by it. There are certain elements that get lost in the written story, such as emotions, voice tonality, gaps of silence, sigh of relief sounds, pitch, diction or even hesitations. I would make the case that video clips would be even more powerful than sound recordings, because than you get to see the facial expression and body language which would not be available through audio. It’s definitely changing the way we view archives–these are definitely not dead archives.

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