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The personal versus the institutional voice in an open photographic archive

Journal article
Authors Karin Wagner
Published in Archival Science
Volume 17
Issue 3
Pages 247–266
ISSN 1389-0166
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Cultural Sciences
Pages 247–266
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-016-...
Keywords Deixis, Finding aids, Genre, Photography, Social media, Voice
Subject categories Art History

Abstract

© 2017 The Author(s)In an open photographic archive where both archival institutions and the general public can upload images and provide them with descriptions, a noted difference can be perceived between the institutional voice and the personal voice. Private persons’ written descriptions of their photographs tend to have a more subjective style than the neutral, objective style of descriptions written by institutional staff influenced by archival guidelines. Seven examples from the site Historypin will be analysed using semiotics, rhetoric and genre theory as theoretical approaches. Deixis is a key concept in the analyses. In order to discern the institutional voice, meta-genre documents like archival guidelines have been studied. Regarding the personal voice, it is shown how genres that evolved long before the web serve as patterns for the contributions to Historypin, and at the same time how these genres undergo a renewal in this context. The article concludes by suggesting ways the personal voice could be strengthened and that institutions might benefit from creating fictional stories emulating the personal voice.

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