The Quest for Permanence and Impermanence: A Comparison of Traditional and Social Media Photo Albums

Sarika Kelm


The personal photograph album has always lived on the blurry boundary between public and private. The article examines challenges in preserving and providing access to photo albums, both physical and digital. These formats share many similarities in that they are a branch of personal records that have not been treated with deserved seriousness by traditional archival theory, rely extensively on original order to communicate meaning, and are problematic because they both involve some degree of performance that requires recognition and interpretation. These formats differ in that, while physical albums are usually static unless the order of photos are tampered with, digital albums, specifically social media albums, accumulate valuable meaning from their dynamic nature.


archives, archivists, social media, photographs, photo albums, personal archives

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