Through this final project for our Digital Humanities course, I want to investigate why #BlackLivesMatter became both the name of a movement and a word in the dictionary when other racially relevant hashtags have been influencing the same conversations possibly for longer amounts of time. Using blessays, I intend to blend academic writing with the style of more informal blogging and hope to connect and compare #Amerikkka and #BlackLivesMatter via the lens of Twitter as a living archive. This lens will allow me to investigate how conversations that are created by hashtags can complicate our understanding of the archive. If an archive is essentially privileged information through which the researcher further picks, how do the ethics of interaction differ in digital and born-digital spaces? How can social justice initiatives on social media create a noticeable impact on tangible society? The discussion of impact will be confined to ideas that derive from born-digital content; thus, perhaps a better reframing of this research question is how can ongoing, informal conversations on Twitter affect society. The following pieces of writing will introduce readers to my experience in volunteering for an archive, definitive work for archive and living archive, the actual Twitter conversation analysis, and a conclusive statement. In the future, I hope to add to this project by continuing to compare Twitter conversations that pertain to social justice and learning more about the impact of social media activism.
To further explain the chosen form for this project, interested readers may find this link useful: http://www.dancohen.org/2012/05/24/the-blessay/. Blessay is a term coined by Dan Cohen of which one of the most important characteristics is rule number two: “Informed by academic knowledge and analysis, but doesn’t rub your nose in it” (Cohen). Thus, in the following posts, I hope to convey an understanding of the scholarship without seeming pedantic, falsely enthused, or even overly analytical. According to Yoni Appelbaum, as seen in “Update 2” of Cohen’s article, “It’s not journalism. It’s not blogging. It’s practicing the art of the essay in the digital space.” Because of Twitter’s digital presence and the impending conversation about digital affordances, employing the digital essay—or, more creatively, the blessay—suits the topic and eases the incorporation of digital tools and direct links. Finally, moving texts from their assumed spaces to the digital realm is an idea that will flow between each post, as digitization is an ongoing conversation in DH studies.