The Future of Remembering: How Multimodal Platforms and Social Media Are Repurposing Our Digitally Shared Pasts in Cultural Heritage and Collective Memory Practices
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While most media-memory research focuses on particular cultural repository sites, memorials, traumatic events, media channels, or commemorative practices as objects of study to understand the construction of collective memory, this dissertation suggests it is our activity, participation, and interaction with digital content through multimodal platforms and social media applications that demonstrate how communities articulate shared memory in the new media landscape. This study examines the discursive interpretations of cultural heritage practitioners and participations from the Getty Research Institute, the Prelinger Archive and Library, and the Willamette Heritage Center to better understand how multimodal platforms are being used, how this use is changing the roles of the heritage practitioners and participants in the construction of meaning, and what types of multimodal memory practices are emerging. This research also underscores a reassessment of what constitutes heritage artifacts, authenticity, curatorial authority, and multimodal participation in digital cultural heritage. My methodological approach for this research takes a multilateral form of data collection, including in-depth interviewing, participant observations, and thematic analysis, informed by the theoretical frameworks of collective memory, remediation, and gatekeeping and unified by the social theories of art practice, social constructionism, symbolic interactionism, and actor-network theory. My primary recommendation from this research is that our digital practices of contributing, appropriating, repurposing, and sharing digital content represent new forms of memory practice in a multimodal context. I propose that these multimodal memory practices of interacting with digital content using different devices across different networks coalesce into platformed communities of memory, where communities are shaped and collective memory is shared by our interaction through social networks. I suggest that we need to think of social media output and metadata as being new forms of cultural heritage artifacts and legitimate social records. I also contend that metadata analysis presents new considerations and opportunities for studying the memory of digital content and institutional memory. It is my hope that these conclusions clarify our contemporary memory practices in the digital era so that we can better understand whose voices will be most prominent in the future articulation of how we remember the past.