A few weeks ago author Philip Roth donated his personal archive to a library in New Jersey. It made the news because Roth is… well, he’s Roth and that’s what happens when you are super famous and literary. Personally, this is just another thing related to archives that has hit me at the right time in my life. Authors get personalized archives, Presidents get libraries of all their stuff, and so do other important people at various levels of local and international notoriety.
I am not one of those people who has ever thought I would have a personal archive. Then a colleague and I started chatting about something that lead to an epiphany: Facebook really is going to be an archive for so many of us. People use to write journals with both deep thoughts, events of their days, and nonsense that nobody cares about. They use to write letters to each other with the same content. Then phones became big and email. Neither is really the same as letters and journals, but are archivable. What really shifted things back to daily recordings of life is social media. Facebook is a chronicle of our lives played out when there is something worth talking about.
Think about this, when future generations look back at the mess that is the 2016 election, it is going to made up of media coverage and personal stories found on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sources. Videos from YouTube, blogs, and podcasts will be part of it. All this digital content is saved and stored virtually for future research purposes.
A few weeks later something new hit me: the process of writing is just as important as the final product. Here I am at the cusp of being a published author and I have the opportunity to help craft any legacy. I have stupidly thrown away some things from when I wrote Modern Persuasion, but I kept a few things. Moving forward I am going to start creating personal archives for each thing I write. I am even going to publish print versions of this blog every year.
This is going to be an ongoing series of how I am creating my personalize archive. It is not going to be a regular thing, but when there is something to share. This will include each book I write, marketing and promotional items for the novels, printing hard copies of this blog, academic writing and speaking, and anything else that comes up.