Episode 110: Archive Abuse

I’m on a train with no wifi and not much to do. I picked up a few books to read with some academic rigor and a few Deadpool stories but those seem far too passive for the day I have a head of me of sitting and waiting. I’d rather be catching up on all these blog posts I have to do. Since my previous How I Met Your Mother post was much longer than some of my more usual online writings, I think that entitles me to a break of sorts and write with a bit more brevity. Since I am backtracking through my quota of online writing, it seems appropriate that I discuss the concept of archive backtracking.

As I have mentioned before, webcomic authors have a lot of power over the entirety of the text that other people don’t wield. Imagine that you could not only write a book and publish it on your own but that you could change the pages inside for everyone whenever you feel like it. In webcomics you have that potential, though it’s something that cartoonists don’t really employ at their whims. In this blog, I could theoretically edit every post (I don’t, trust me) and replace them with anything, or remove them altogether. One of the cooler things is the ability to retroactively add installments, even with the caveat of changing the time of publication to an earlier date. Just imagine what you could if you could send any email and make it look like it came at the time of your choosing.

One of my favorite examples of this authorial performance is something I, and a lot of other people on the Internet, refer to as “archive abuse”. Perhaps the most egregious application is with mezzacotta a webcomic by David Morgan-Mar et al. Allow me to quote a part of my MAEE thesis that describes it better than I ever could again: It originally started inOctober 2008 but the webcomic cartoonists decided to backdate several installments before thewebcomic started. By searching through the archive, one finds that the first issue of mezzacottais backdated as occurring on January 1, 9999999999999 BC. It has a comic for every day of theyear beyond that point. As of October 2008, this webcomic has ostensibly a total of3,652,425,000,732,961 installments, by far the most of any webcomic in existence. It iscompletely done in a gag a day format and has no narrative beyond any single issue. It contains a“random” hyperlink, as well as the option to search via date, with the option to look forinstallments in years classified as BC or AD.

Upon first going through the webcomic, the drawings were simple and the writing was very direct. For a small moment, I considered the math as to whether it could be possible to have that many installments, especially if you have a group of authors writing like crazy. The vast quantity of course defied all kinds of logic possibilities as three quadrillion plus individual comics apparently laid in wait within those archives. Even if you had the combined manpower of China and each installment took five minutes that would still be years of nonstop everything to come even close to those numbers.

Over the next day or so I will update a bunch of blogs on here so get ready for a lot of material over a short amount of time.

Hope the wait isn’t too long,

G

                                                               

 

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