Apples and Archivists

{All posts under the New Media Class category are for a History and Theory of New Media class I am taking during the 2019 Spring Semester at SUNY Empire. Please be aware that all comments must be approved before they are posted}

While reading his essay “The Disappearance of Archives”, I couldn’t fight the nagging thought that Mr. Prelinger was unfairly comparing a corporate website with a 501(c)(3) non-profit looking to preserve digital information.  Alphabet/Google/YouTube is publicly traded, their ultimate mission is to make money for their stockholders.  YouTube ad revenues are a large part of the billions in earnings Google rakes in yearly. 

                When large advertisers like At&T pulled away from YouTube in 2017, disturbed by their ads’ proximity to hate speech “and other disturbing content” (Maheshwari), YouTube started to clean up its “effectively infinite proportions” (Prelinger).  This was a purely profit-driven move, YouTube didn’t have a similar reactions when newspaper articles came out accusing its algorithm of using hateful right-wing conspiracy videos to entice viewers (Admin).

                But still we are presented with YouTube as an example of archives contrasted with “radical archivists”, the implication being that those who work to preserve culture without being driven by profit are ‘radical’. 

                All in all, I find Mr. Prelinger’s essay off the mark.  The purpose and motive of YouTube and actual archives are completely different.  YouTube is a for-profit video hosting site.  To state otherwise is like insinuating that McDonald’s is really about feeding the hungry.  Actual moving image archives are created and work to preserve digital video media.

Admin. (2018, February 05). Guardian alleges Youtube algorithm bias in favour of Trump & “conspiracy theories”. Retrieved January 23, 2019, from

Maheshwari, S. (2019, January 18). AT&T to Advertise on YouTube Again After a Nearly 2-Year Holdout. Retrieved January 23, 2019, from

Prelinger, R. (2016). The Disappearance of Archives. In Hui Kyong Chun, W., & Watkins Fisher, A. (Eds.), New Media, Old Media, A History and Theory Reader (Second ed.). New York, NY, London, England: Routledge.

Spangler, T. (2018, October 26). Google’s Parent, Alphabet, Misses on Q3 Revenue But Rakes in $9.2 Billion Net Profit. Retrieved January 24, 2019, from