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Science in the ArchivesPasts, Presents, Futures$
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Lorraine Daston

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226432229

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226432533.001.0001

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Archives-of-Self: The Vicissitudes of Time and Self in a Technologically Determinist Future

Archives-of-Self: The Vicissitudes of Time and Self in a Technologically Determinist Future

(p.247) Ten Archives-of-Self: The Vicissitudes of Time and Self in a Technologically Determinist Future
Science in the Archives

Rebecca Lemov

University of Chicago Press

This chapter traces self-archiving practices through their historical genesis in the professional and professionalizing human sciences--especially “sciences of self” in the modern era. Considering how a search for subjective data enlivened these nascent sciences, including projects from dream collection to self-narration to political surveillance, it argues that the archiving of lives is bolstered not only by emerging digital tracking technologies but by historically crafted inquisitorial data-collecting techniques. Paradoxes that arise in treating the self as an archive are explored, as well as longtime fantasies of total information with their dreams of dramatic compressibility and expansibility of information. Three individual cases of self-archiving are described: Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Chronofile experiment (beginning in the 1930s); Gordon Bell’s MyLifeBits quest to record the totality of his experience (beginning in the 1990s); and Chris Dancy’s InnerNet, an extreme self-quantification project also exploring selflessness (in the 2000s). Overall, this essay investigates the question of how and in what sense the “self” is becoming more and more an archive made up of all the moments of a human life. As self-surveillance and self-tracking become ever more common norms, how are our selves reconfigured--specifically via temporal dynamics and the place of the individual within collectives?

Keywords:   self-archiving, algorithmic self, self-commodification, datafication, ceaseless curation, sciences of self

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