HomeAbout the Archive

About the Archive

Thanks for visiting the Instagram Slideshow Archive! 

This project is administered by Matthew Salzano, a PhD Candidate at the University of Maryland. This archive is being developed as an ongoing Digital Humanities project, but it was first funded by the UMD Graduate School's summer research fellowship in support of work on Matthew's dissertation, "Living a Participatory life: rhetoric in demanding, digital times."

The archive's original purpose is to aid in writing a dissertation chapter about digital participation and Instagram slideshows. However, the researcher hopes that the archive could prove beneficial to other researchers and activists interested in Instagram, social media activism, and/or any of the movements and controversies mentioned in the items.

This page lists contributors, provides some instructions on how to contribute, and details some methodological notes about the archive.  





If you have an Instagram Slideshow you'd like to contribute to the archive, please follow the steps below: 

  1. Review a few items on the archive so you know what data an item usually contains. Contribution should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on the slideshow. 
  2. Review the Terms and Conditions of contribution
  3. Open the "contribution" page on this archive and review the steps to prepare and submit your item. 


In a Documenting the Now white paper about the ethics of social media archives of social justice protest, Jules et al. (2018) write that "Because of the significant role social media currently plays in how citizens participate in democratic activity, there is an important opportunity to consider how ethics can play a role in how history’s documenters engage with this type of content for preservation and interpretation" (p. 3). In this spirit, here are a few methodological and ethical notes about this archive.

Definitions and Scope

For the sake of this archive, slideshows are Instagram carousel (multi-image) posts with at least three images that include text-based material related to a contemporary political or cultural issue.  See the collection "What are Instagram Slideshows?" for more information. 

For now, slideshow posts will be the focus of this archive. While disappearing Instagram stories play an important role in the Instagram slideshow circulation, their disappearing nature means many creators may not intend for them to be preserved by anyone indefinitely. Collecting highlighted stories (which users have made more permanent) go beyond the purpose of this archive. 

This archive is particularly interested in slideshows written primarily in English about social justice issues and political controversies. This includes but is not limited to: anti-racism, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, Israel-Palestine, local and national elections, terrorism, etc.

The archive will be organized in collections around temporal events (e.g., Black Lives Matter in Summer 2020 or Anti-Asian Violence in COVID-19) and exhibitions around certain rhetorical conventions of slideshows (TBA). 

Research questions prompting this archive

Catherine Knight-Steele notes that "the question is still supposed to guide your method" (qtd. in Jules et al., 2018, p. 8). Here are the research questions driving this archive:

Research Ethics

As recommended by Moreno et al. (2013), this project did not seek Institutional Review Board approval because it is observational social media research, not human subjects research.

Contributor-driven Selection

The researcher aims to take what Laestadius (2016) calls a small-scale approach in the paper(s) written from this archive. This approach allows for close readings of the rhetorical conventions implicated in certain styles of posts and/or during certain sociopolitical contexts.

Recognizing that every Instagram user has a unique experience with slideshows, due to each user's unique algorithm and community, the archive relies on contributors to build its collections and the context of those collections. When submitting a post, contributors are asked to remark on how they came across the post. Comments are enabled on every item so that contributors can add contextual information on posts they have seen before, related posts, and so on.   

The goal is not to attempt to network all the posts, or suggest who-saw-what-sort of post. Instead, it is to seek out if there are shared conventions of the slideshow. Including many user experiences will help contextualizes slideshows as part of a conversation among many people, instead of just one user's finding from their connections. 

Matthew Salzano is the sole moderator of the submissions at this time. Submissions related to other events covered in the existing items will be added to the appropriate collection after the researcher edits the submission for standardization and clarity. Submissions covering new events will be kept pending until there are 5 items related to that event. Ideally, this standard helps exclude items that will not be relevant for broader interpretation. 

Protecting slideshow creators 

This archive focuses on slideshows that generated attention. This ensures (1) that the archive can speak to rhetorical trends beyond what a few friends found interesting — speaking to the interpretive questions, and (2) that the archive does not expose anyone to novel and undue amounts of publicity that could bring them harm.

1000 likes and/or approximately 5,000 followers at the time of collection is used as a general benchmark of publicity, determined by observing the number of likes on the initial 10-15 posts collected by the researcher. This standard is set so that the only slideshows included are by people who could be considered public figures.  The only exceptions to this rule are when popular posts reference less-popular posts (e.g., in the case a user references an older or less favorable slideshow that did not generate as many likes or followers).

Previous research (e.g. Mavroudis and Milne, 2016) has considered 10,000 followers the benchmark for microcelebrity. But Instagram's circulatory model has changed in the past 5 years — now, instagram posts are shared on temporary stories, and not in the news feed alone. These share numbers are not available, and some public slideshows may not have generated likes and follows, despite being widely shared. Thus, this smaller number of publicity feels appropriate.   

Posts are checked for deletion after 1 month from original posting date, as recommended by Laestadius (2016). If the post has been deleted or edited by the original poster, the modifications will be noted and/or the post will be removed.

Posts will be removed or anonymized if requested from the original poster. The item's information removed and a note will be posted on that item's page that it had been removed at the author's request. Email mattsalzano AT gmail.com with "Instagram Archive Removal" in the subject line to make this request. 

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