The Promises and Challenges of Fan-Based On-Line Archives for Global Television
by Sharon Shahaf — Georgia State University
August 09, 2007 – 09:00
Recently there has been a surge of new, extremely rare clips from old Israeli TV on youtube and similar local websites. The clip presented here – A song on punctuation performed by young Ofra Haza on the Israeli Educational Television is just one example.
These discoveries provide access to bits and pieces of what is largely non-available history of local broadcast. The example I was GOING to use is a sketch from the legendary satirical show Nikuy Rosh (1976-1977) extremely relevant for my work on the first Hebrew sitcom - Krovim-Krovim (1983-1986). The clip presented an early All in the Family spoof, written by the writing team that later developed the first full blown Israeli sitcom. Now, I have HEARD about this sketch before - my parents and in-laws REENACTED it for me, the writers discussed it with me, I knew it may or may not exist somewhere in the incredibly inaccessible dungeons of the Israeli Broadcast Authority. However here it was all of a sudden – right before my eyes on freaking youtube! Interestingly enough - when I was looking for the clip for this essay - it was gone! The account of whoever posted it - suspended for some reason.
This anecdote points out the obvious promises as well as the limitations of these emerging on-line archives as sources for historical research on TV. Beyond their ephemeral nature, the sources themselves are often fragmented, presented completely out of context, and in poor quality.
Relating this back to the debate in the Flow conference (and later on Flow) regarding the legitimacy of non traditional historical research methods in TV studies - I would like to argue that, especially in marginalized locations where archive are non-existing, in stages of extinction, or highly inaccessible - TV historians must deal with the challenges presented by these new found sources creatively, utilize them and, most importantly, fight for their acceptance as legitimate primary sources in TV studies.
Also - given the ephemeral nature of on-line fan-based websites I wish to use this opportunity to raise the question of preservation - what can/should we do to encourage the preservation of these sources?
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