[Air-l] re: internet as database - or rather an archive

Rune Dalgaard runed at imv.au.dk
Fri Jan 17 03:15:18 PST 2003

Hi Denise and others

A few comments on the idea of the internet as a database, which has recently
been brought forward by Manovich - and a suggesting to think of the internet
as a meta-archive instead.

There are many issues at play here. Manovich (2001) (not unlike hypertext
theorists from the early 90's) contrasts the database as a cultural form
with narrative. There are some interesting points about this in his 'The
language of new media' but generally I am sceptical of his argument. One
reason is that his notion of database is so general that it fits any kind of
archive or collection containing recorded human expression. A second
objection is that comparing narrative (movies and novels) with
collections/archives, which what is really done conceptually, seems like
comparing apples and oranges.

Denise, you  construct a dichotomy between CMC and Databases claiming that
one is about distribution and the other about storage. I think it is more
appropriate to think about different modi of communication/archiving where
both dimensions are present. One of the interesting qualities of the
internet is exactly that it creates (from a media historic point of view) a
new relation between storage and distribution. One way to take this issue
further is to regard the internet as an archive (not a database): a
meta-archive constituted by many archives. One among many interesting
qualities of this meta-archive, is exactly that distribution is build into
the medium as a general potential (in principle any point on the net can be
accessed from any other point). Taking of the net as an archive in other
words, demand that you consider its qualities with respect to distribution I
would venture. 

Along the same line the archival dimension of most forms of communication on
the net (email, chat etc. etc.) would be interesting to explore. Anything
communicated through a computer is stored if only for a few seconds, and
very often this storage capability is used to create 'archives', which
differ from earlier paper-based archival forms. Think about the mailboxes
that any one of us accumulate and sometimes order compared to paperbased

That's all for now - I hope it shows a shared interest.


Rune Dalgaard  |  MA, Ph.D. Candidate  |
Information and Media Studies  |  Aarhus University  |  Denmark
runed at imv.au.dk  |  http://www.imv.au.dk/medarbejdere/runed

> From: air-l-request at aoir.org
> Reply-To: air-l at aoir.org
> Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2003 12:01:03 -0500 (EST)
> To: air-l at aoir.org
> Subject: Air-l digest, Vol 1 #606 - 3 msgs
> Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 14:40:44 -0800 (PST)
> From: "Denise N. Rall" <denrall at yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: [Air-l] Internet as a database?
> To: air-l at aoir.org
> Reply-To: air-l at aoir.org
> Dear Aoir's -
> Thanks, Jeremy and others for replying. It's also good
> to think about the split between comm & DB as
> differnet aspects of the net. I am not really trying
> to take this on academically, so to speak, but to
> understand it for myself.
> I guess it's the problem of transport that is still
> bothering me.  I can see that cmc helps out with the
> transport idea, because communication always includes
> some sort of broadcast/reception, send & receive
> model.  I've never thought of DBs that way.
> I did think, however, of the power of the query.  It
> is clear that the query starts the transport mechanism
> for internet, that as one inputs or clicks on an
> address, that invokes TCP/IP for server to send the
> file to the desktop making the query.
> So the query would work as a sort of mechanism to
> activate the database, that model works out great  for
> the search engine.
> How one arrives at the database, especially a
> proprietary DB as you were talking about, it doesn't
> seem to be a send & receive option but with the query
> invoked, maybe that makes sense, but . . .
> Ok, maybe I'm the only one interested in this . . .
> Denise

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