Sign in or register
for additional privileges

Teaching and Learning Multimodal Communications

Alyssa Arbuckle, Alison Hedley, Shaun Macpherson, Alyssa McLeod, Jana Millar Usiskin, Daniel Powell, Jentery Sayers, Emily Smith, Michael Stevens, Authors

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.

Digital Objects as Objects: Chun’s “Enduring Ephemeral”

In her 2008 article, "The Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future is a Memory" Wendy Chun defines the paradox of digital media as a conflict between the purported permanence made possible by digital archival practices and the narrative of speed which renders all digital media ephemeral and fleeting; it is a phenomenon she calls the enduring ephemeral, and one made possible by a conflation of memory and storage that mistakes memory as permanent, to be something that perfectly preserves the past without degeneration: "Memory, with its constant degeneration, does not equal storage . . . digital media complicates this relationship by making the permanent into an enduring ephemeral, creating unforeseen degenerative links between humans and machines" (150).

By pointing out the persistence and enduring quality of digital objects, Chun paradoxically calls attention to the materiality of these objects. As we paid attention to the materiality and also, then, to the ephemerality and degeneration of digital objects, we were forced to "think beyond speed" in Scalar by performing granulations in which we analyzed interfaces, source code, and media storage. By attributing and experimenting with metadata as we created and analyzed different kinds of digital objects—and by paying attention to the ways in which we archive our own work—we contributed to the ever-expanding mass of enduring ephemerals found in the digital reservoir we call the web.

To the right: Images of a hard disk drive and a twentieth-century phonograph turntable, inscription and storage technologies that Matthew Kirschenbaum notes look incredibly similar and were invented around the same time. The modern magnetic hard drive is a magnetic recording device, and magnetic recording technologies emerged alongside the phonograph in the late nineteenth century (6, n.14).

Authors: Alyssa McLeod, Jana Millar Usiskin, and Emily Smith
Word Count: 274
Comment on this page

Discussion of "Digital Objects as Objects: Chun’s “Enduring Ephemeral”"

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...

Previous page on path Analysis, page 2 of 17 Next page on path