My point is that my own experience of knowing you through the blog (which vastly expands my grad-student-friend experience) is reflective of the persistence and (growing influence) of “the archived self” which seems to live and breathe on the Net in a way that continues to astonish me.
The bears a particular resonance for me because I’ve just this week started a new project, about which I won’t go into too much detail for fear of killing it, that I’m thinking of under the tentative title “The Archive.” And it’s precisely about this experience of encountering in the archive the traces of a person that one thought one knew, only to discover how much more to that person there is, how much can be learned from the archive, and how many small gaps and bits of unknowableness the archive reveals.
Again, I don’t want to give up too many details yet — the project has miles to go before it’ll see the light of day. But here’s a question that you (collectively) might be able to help me answer. If you were creating a fictional archive, of a fictional family, and needed fictional family photos to include in it, how would you go about producing them? There are sites around such as this one that archive old photos submitted to them. There’s also the flea-market route. I don’t need many photos — the paucity of available information is part of the point — but they do need to be pretty consistent, and they need to not get me sued.
Asking such a question is not the best way, I realize, of thinking through the ideas that BT raises — but I hope that the project will do so, and that’s of course where my brain is right now.