Journalism

Archiving

“In full makeup and makeup-free, she can be found shaking her famous ass onstage, lounging in her dressing room, singing Coldplay’s “Yellow” to Jay-Z over an intimate dinner, and rolling over sleepy-eyed in bed. This digital database, modeled loosely on NBC’s library, is a work in progress—the labeling, date-stamping, and cross-referencing has been under way for two years, and it’ll be several months before that process is complete. … These are the ground rules: Before you get to see Beyoncé, you must first agree to live forever in her archive, too.”

Beyoncé is building a self-archive that includes every photo ever taken of her, every interview she’s given, every show she’s performed, and video diary entries. What’s amazing is not just the scale, but also the archival insight: the collection will be fully searchable and indexed. And while Beyoncé is obviously a special case, this seems like an extreme example of the self-curating that’s happening everywhere, from Facebook to Spotify and Instagram. I’m not sure if future media historians will see this archival impulse as a godsend or a nightmare!

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