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.
- Dark Web
- Internet history
- digital archives
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Computer Science (miscellaneous)