MEDIA AND THE ARCHIVE: Motions and Transformations

Tumblr: An Everyday Archive

Out of the definitions suggested in trying to determine what classifies as an "everyday archive," the website Tumblr most appropriately falls under as a content-sharing site that we can encounter on a daily basis, should we choose to. In my opinion, what makes Tumblr an everyday archive is its accessibility to the public. Anyone can participate and build and contribute to their own archive as they deem fit. There is no waiting for media to be judged and selected, no waiting to be told what is important. That decision is placed in the hands of the user.

The purpose of Tumblr serves as a micro-blogging site is to preserve and share pop culture media. From images to links to videos to gifs to comments or opinions, Tumblr exists as a creative platform for people to share content in organized manner. Blogs can be organized based on a very specific topic, such as recycled movie costumes, or something as generic as featuring media that a specific person finds interesting. The user has to choose whether to reblog content they stumble across and wish to add to their own personal collection, or they may upload original content that can be shared and re-blogged in the same manner by other participants.

As an "everyday archive," Tumblr is constantly growing and changing to reflect what is trending at pop culture at the moment. It is both stagnant, yet not. Rife with themes of nostalgia, much of the content stems from old photographs or films or pieces of music, but the interest in those specific topics is what becomes current. For example, someone could fancy a specific decade, but that interest could very well evolve and change. As pop culture itself could be considered a growing organism, so are reflected the opinions of those who use Tumblr. 

Documenting the "everyday" is a way of preserving human behavior and interest. Though it was only founded in 2007, Tumblr has become a host to nearly 300 million blogs and about 135 billion posts since June 2016, according to Wikipedia. The network of different users and ideas helps establish the site as a reflection of the interests of the people. The users are the ones who decide what to preserve and why and how to organize such material, placing a certain amount of power with the people. Though Tumblr may be targeted at a younger demographic, it is for anyone and everyone to utilize and explore as they see fit. Its policy of freedom of expression permits a greater sense of free reign for the users in what they re-blog and upload.

In regards to blurring the boundaries between "the everyday" and "the archive," I suppose it is worth challenging the notion of an archive as a dusty old library, where content is sorted and put away, only to never be viewed again. Tumbler exists as an active and constantly changing archive. People upload new content everyday, and the creators of the site continue to release updates that will change the interface and how people access it. Tumblr can be considered as a growing organism that reflects the views and interests of the people. Thus, what it looks like and exhibits will vary based on the time period, current events, and the opinions of the viewers.

Something that I find very interesting to think about in regards to Tumblr as an archive is the classic argument of whether art imitates life or life imitates art. Through the process of uploading and re-blogging content, do users allow themselves to be influenced by exposure to such content or do they primarily influence others with what they choose to broadcast? Perhaps the answer is a bit of both?

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