Francielle Carpenedo

Francielle Carpenedo

Last updated on 19 December 2018

Francielle Carpenedo is a PhD student at the Institute of Modern Languages Research/School of Advanced Study; affiliated with the AHRC’s OWRI ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’ project.

I am a PhD student with a thing for communication. One of the things I am often intrigued about is how people communicate in connection to the contextual cues that shape the different ways language is used to get things done in their everyday lives. That goes from sending letters, talking on the phone, sending emails, recording voice messages on WhatsApp to using social media. I often find it fascinating how humans adapt and make use of the different tools available to them to communicate with each other. On that note, it is interesting to think about the transformations that take place within social media communication. As a student of digital communication, social media presents a rich environment to make sense of these processes, and of how different communities are making use of these tools in our society.

One of the themes discussed at the DPC’s Web & Social Media Archiving briefing day on the 6th of December was the significance of digital preservation in current society. Another interesting topic discussed on the day was the availability of tools for digital preservation at the personal level, which make the possibility of preserving small data feasible for the individual.

In an ever-changing world where paper use seems to be constantly decreasing and where actions are increasingly being performed online, the web has established itself not only as a replacement for paper but also as a place of action. The ability to transfer, store and display documents, pictures, or institutional information through email, websites, or cloud systems are indeed food for thought when it comes to preservation. But another salient characteristic of web activity, is that life aspects are also being carried out online in connection to all the other errands we run daily. People eat out and leave reviews in solidarity to other users. They also have conversations through blog comments and organise activities through tagging friends or events on social networking sites. Others create groups or pages on social media to attract common views and interests, or to promote businesses to specific audiences or at a lower cost than traditional advertisement.

Upon reflection on the briefing day, a clear impact that the DPC event has had is that it brought to the surface the magnitude of what social media records can mean for us all in order to understand the world we live in. With the fluidity of the online sphere comes the susceptibility of the activities that take place online. Documenting these can shed light on contemporary community practices which, as mundane as they feel now, will be of invaluable significance for the understanding of the progression of society once we have moved on to another era.

From the point of view of my research which is interested in how means of communication change how people communicate, social media is fascinating as we no longer just type, but design messages, combining and replacing words with features such as emojis, images, and stickers. The preservation of social media is also significant to businesses as a rich resource to trace back progress and development through businesses’ blogs, websites and discourse over time. In the private sphere, where pictures are increasingly stored online (as opposed to photo albums) and thoughts are increasingly posted on timelines (as opposed to diaries), individuals may also want to preserve posts and pictures they have shared over the years. As discussed on the day, some of the reasons why people, researchers, or institutions may want to further develop the idea of digital preservation are:

  • To document contemporary practices and make sense of the past and present society.
  • To document the existence of practices that do not exist offline.
  • To ensure transparency and perpetuity of information which was only ever displayed online.
  • To provide contextual understanding of historical events.

These highlight the increasing need for thinking and finding solutions collectively to ensure responsible and efficient ways to preserve data for the future. Brilliant initiatives such as the UK Web Archive and tools to record websites with more dynamic features such as the Webrecorder are already out there, and these should keep evolving.   

Francielle’s research focuses on the study of computer-mediated communication and translingual practices in connection to online Brazilian food spaces in the UK.

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