Saturday, April 26, 2008
Ephemeral Monuments or the Cast Iron Soap Bubble
I posted this comment/question on the firstname.lastname@example.org listserv and thought it worth reposting here.
I've been thinking about publishing online and the idea of the archived ephemeral.
I have boxes of "ephemera" -- all manner of leaflets, flyers, balloons,
sticks, etc -- publications that are somehow not "books" and were
published with some idea of their own impermenance or at least in
opposition to the official book record. Some of this ephemera is quite
old and has a kind of collectibility due to its very fragility and
I was wondering about how publishers and writers think of publishing
online as different from this kind of ephemera. Things like online
journals are, I imagine, thought of as permanent and archiveably online
entities, in the way that print journals are records of a particular
moment in publishing and are kept. Are websites like books? Are things
like blogs the equivalent of ephemera? (They are some kind of a record,
which may be kept or archived) of a piece in transition or a piece that
marks a particular time, publishing event, or etc. Many blogs, like some
ephemera, may even record drafts, moments in a process, etc. They are not
meant to be considered "finished" products, even knowing that they may
exist online until the apocalypse or the demise of Google, whichever
comes first. Some blogs are like journals, written with an eye to
publication or at least the permanent public record. Some are more
And for that matter, what are notes like this? Posts to archived
(OK, now I have to go fill in for the gym teacher--the kids smell music
teacher phys ed inexperience fifty miles away.)
* * *
The image is from the University of Florida's Ephemeral Cities Project.
"The time is 1880-1920. Ephemeral Cities is an integrated collection of maps, documents, museum objects, photographs, and ephemera that breathe life into the static renderings of the historic fire insurance maps created by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company."