Notes from/dev/null

Finn Brunton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I will discuss the digital materials that we do not want to archive, or that do not want to be archived, that are particular to Internet history: the trash, cruft, detritus and intentionally opaque hoard of documents and artefacts that constitute our digital middens. Middens are pits of domestic refuse filled with the discards and by-products of material life: the gnawed bones, ashes, fruit stones and potsherds, shells and chips and hair and drippings which together constitute the photographic negative of a community in action and an invaluable record for archaeologists. Using this analogy, I will discuss two from my own research: the archives of spam, which we would all rather forget, and the records of the communities and marketplaces of the so-called “Dark Web,” which would prefer to be forgotten. I will also address the challenges of research with other kinds of eccentric, troubling or speculative archives, like blockchains, ephemeral imageboards and doxxes. I will close by discussing ways that we can think of digital historiography, in particular, in terms of these accidental, unwanted, averse archives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
JournalInternet Histories
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017


  • Dark Web
  • Internet history
  • blockchains
  • digital archives
  • spam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • History


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