2023/31/05 Essay: Mnemotechnics: Digital Epistemologies and the Techno-Politics of Archiving a Revolution

Published in The Handbook of Media and Culture in the Middle East (Wiley-Blackwell, 2023), this chapter discusses Heba Y. Amin’s Project Speak2Tweet (2011–ongoing) and how it assumed – through the archiving of a selection of voices first recorded as part of the Speak2Tweet initiative launched on January 31, 2011 – responsibility for digitally preserving and representing revolutionary voices. Although intimately connected with and yet independent of the original Speak2Tweet initiative, Project Speak2Tweet is not solely an archive. It is, rather, a mnemotechnic device – a technology of recall in its own right – that questions how memory is digitized, archived, retrieved and, thereafter, subjected to a digital apparatus that ultimately determines (and simultaneously undermines) how we garner historical knowledge through online platforms today. The chapter enquires, more specifically, into whether the digital methodologies that evolve out of interventions such as Project Speak2Tweet can question the substance of an online social media archive – in its compromised capacity as a “container” of meaning – while also productively extending its potential as an effective means to address past events in the present.

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