According to Harris, “digital, electronic, and hypertextual archives have come to represent online and virtual environments” (Katherine Harris, JHGDM 16);
Archiving is “guided by principles of preserving history” (Katherine Harris, JHGDM 16).
Increasingly our possessions and our communications are no longer material, they’re digital and they are dependent on technology to make them accessible. As new technology emerges and current technology becomes obsolete, we need to actively manage our digital possessions to help protect them and keep them available for years to come.
The world of technology is constantly in flux: files and machines vulnerable to deterioration and data can be compromised, just as printed books and film strips are vulnerable to deterioration.
As a “democratizing endeavor and a scholarly enterprise” (Katherine Harris, JHGDM 16), the digital archive attempts to “preserve and record” (Katherine Harris, JHGDM 16), making curators and archivists the gatekeepers to works of literature (or art, etc.). In other words, it is “impossible to archive without editorial intervention” (Katherine Harris, JHGDM 16), which threatens readerly freedom. For example, in the same way that editors have tampered with Emily Dickens’ poetry and altered the meanings of her poems, Harris suggests that by archiving works we alter their original form/content, and therefore “in the digital archive, an object continues to aquire meaning based on … organization of material … based on the continued re-mixing, re-using, and re-presentation of the object” (Katherine Harris, JHGDM 17).
Though preservation of history is important, the translation/tranformation that occurs in the archival of works threatens the works themselves.