Active Archives

by Caroline Goralczyk

Michael Murtaugh,  writer, web designer and creator of the Active Archives, presented his project that is aiming at setting up multi-directional communication channels for cultural archives and therewith challenging its traditional uses. Founded in 2006 in Brussels, Active Archives is offering new ways of making platforms for cultural industries by questioning the notions of authorship and enthusiastically working with free software to promote new ways of instant publishing on cultural archives.

As Murtaugh points out, most of the interesting cultural archives have understood the act of instant publishing by putting up websites that mirror regular information brochures, announcements and text publishing that is based on a linear communication process where information is just passed on directly to the user without actively involving him. With understanding the web more as a space for collaborative writing, prototyping and the development of new ideas, the goal of Active Archives is to make cultural archives go beyond their task of simply preserving culture and making it accessible to users.

To illustrate how Active Archives can be used, Murtaugh introduces the audience into the project called ‘Active Archive Video Wiki‘ which is designed to open the ‘black box’ of online videos by giving users the possibility to write with video and create new compositions with online elements. By referring to the world wide web as the ‘wiki wiki web’, Murtaugh also draws attention to the inconvenience of reading on the Internet. With finding new ways of working with videos and making archives more readable to users, his project uses free software to improve the interactive use of online material. Also, Active Archives works like a browser that is convenient to handle as users can copy URLs and then add them to the archive instead of uploading it to the repository.

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