“Everything we put on the Web is both ephemeral and archival — ephemeral in the sense that so much of what we post is only fleetingly relevant, archival in the sense that the things we post tend to stay where we put them so we can find them years later.”—
He goes on to compare the way that older sites - like Flickr - expose an archive, whereas newer ones - like Facebook - don’t, despite the fact that some of the promotional commentary for the Places feature has been about looking back in twenty years. In other words: “Facebook could be such a repository today, if it actually cared about history. It has given no evidence of such concern.”
The contents of Governor Blagojevich’s storage units were auctioned off Thursday. It sounds like quite a party:
A ragtag group of 50 bargain hunters braved the sun and a pair of Elvis impersonators at Boyer-Rosene Moving and Storage in Arlington Heights to bid on mementos ranging from $5 boxes of the disgraced former governor’s paperwork, through office furniture, to a statue of The King that fetched $20,500.
The governor’s Elvis memorabilia got the most interest. Calumet Park tow business owner J.R. Bramlett, who claims to have mowed the lawn at Graceland as a boy, splashed $1,000 on a lot that included Elvis’ signature.
"I don’t care about the governor," he said, "but he had some nice stuff."
How does one determine whose Elvis memorabilia is worthwhile enough for an archive and whose should be auctioned off? Apparently there was at least one archivist there, from Northwestern:
"The Romans used to have a process called ‘Damnatio Memoriae’ where they removed any public trace of a disgraced official — they’d destroy statues, strike their face from coins and get rid of their possessions after they were executed," said Jeffrey Garrett, who was busy buying up files for Northwestern University’s archive.
"This is a little like that, but we want to save as much as we can for historians."
Brazilian officials have concluded that he’s the last survivor of an uncontacted tribe. They first became aware of his existence nearly 15 years ago and for a decade launched numerous expeditions to track him, to ensure his safety, and to try to establish peaceful contact with him. In 2007, with ranching and logging closing in quickly on all sides, government officials declared a 31-square-mile area around him off-limits to trespassing and development.
It’s meant to be a safe zone. He’s still in there. Alone.
History offers few examples of people who can rival his solitude in terms of duration and degree. The one that comes closest is the “Lone Woman of San Nicolas”—an Indian woman first spotted by an otter hunter in 1853, completely alone on an island off the coast of California. Catholic priests who sent a boat to fetch her determined that she had been alone for as long as 18 years, the last survivor of her tribe. But the details of her survival were never really fleshed out. She died just weeks after being “rescued.”