Bacterial Preservation

May 23, 2007


So, my new plan is to migrate all the archives to bacteria, make a few copies in case of mutations, and then sit back and relax for the next million years. Sound good?

[Originally seen on Boing Boing]


two sartorial questions, for thursday afternoon

May 10, 2007

Via Book Patrol via Minerva Shelved

Militaristic uniforms from Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam‘s”Library of the future.”(To paraphrase Anne Simmons, “What is up with Northern European Libraries?!”)

Via StyleDash Via Fashionista

The pink cocktail dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s is on the auction block. Fashionista asks, “Would you wear this to a party?”

Tell, would you wear a robot uniform to work? Would you let your colleagues do so? Would you wear an archive dress?

the medium is the massage

May 3, 2007

In the category of sooner or later:

Dan Savage tackles the ethics of transgender Second Life sex.

In a thread that starts off with “Myspace is the private press of the 21st century”, record nerds talk about digital preservation, and myspace as arbiter/destroyer of the future of outsider music.

radio roundup

April 2, 2007


I never get to listen to On the Media, since my NPR affiliate doesn’t carry it, but I was able to pick it up driving through East Texas yesterday afternoon. This week’s show has a good segment on the email-trail issues in the Gonzalez scandal that touches on issues of government agency email and the questions of long-term record keeping. There’s also an interview with scholar Anna Nelson on the history and legacy of the Presidental Records Act.

This morning’s ATC had one of those trademark NPR “sexy archives” segments, on the cache of flirty correspondence between Marlene Dietrich and Ernest Hemingway stashed at the JFK Library. However, the segment didn’t touch on a  slightly more salacious archival allegation involving Ms. Dietrich and the Kennedy family that surfaced when the the diaries of Kenneth Tynan were made public.

Ironic Appraisal

March 14, 2007

The Society of American Archivists announced yesterday that “the cost of retaining, administering, and maintaining access to the 1993-2006 archives of the A&A List is substantially higher than is warranted by the evidential or informational value of the archives” and so they will be disposing the entirety of the listserv archives from 1993-2006. Zuh?

I understand that a great number (probably a majority) of the posts on the Archives and Archivists List may be off-topic, outdated, or spam-like, but isn’t the whole idea of being an archivist based on the recognition that individual documents and pieces of information gain value from being presented in the context of their original creation? And don’t we, you know, like to save stuff?

Maintaining the archives of the A&A list will allow future researchers of our profession to see how archivists used early listserv technology, not to mention what we think about such hot-button topics as certification, the Patriot Act, and a whole series of appointed Archivists of the United States, not to mention an irreplaceable documentation of changes in best practices in all areas of archival administration.

Not surprisingly, this announcement has stirred up a flood of indignant posts on the current version of the A&A listserv (to clarify, the listserv changed servers and administrators in October 2006 – posts made since the change will not be affected by the current decision). Some members are trolling through the archives of the old listserv and downloading their favorite posts. Others are threatening to print the whole thing out and put it in a giant acid-free box.

Yesterday this story got picked up by, via a post by Rick Prelinger on his blog. If nothing else, this decision paints a totally embarrassing picture of the archives community for non-archives folks.

Hopefully the leadership of SAA will reconsider their decision and maintain the listserv archives – if nothing else, in an off-line format that could be accessed on-site as part of the institutional archives of SAA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. If not, have fun searching the soon-to-be destroyed information until March 31st.

The Futility of All Ambition

March 10, 2007

The Time Machine, front coverSome cheery thoughts on the preservation of books in the year 802,701 A.D., courtesy of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1898):

“I went out of that gallery and into another and still larger one, which at the first glance reminded me of a military chapel hung with tattered flags. The brown and charred rags that hung from the sides of it, I presently recognized as the decaying vestiges of books. They had long since dropped to pieces, and every semblance of print had left them. But here and there were warped boards and cracked metallic clasps that told the tale well enough. Had I been a literary man I might, perhaps, have moralized upon the futility of all ambition. But as it was, the thing that struck me with keenest force was the enormous waste of labour to which this sombre wilderness of rotting paper testified. At the time I will confess that I thought chiefly of the Philosophical Transactions and my own seventeen papers upon physical optics.”

[From chapter eight — read the whole thing here.]

Newly Registered

March 6, 2007

Would you be crazy to crank up “The Osage Bank Robbery,” episode of “The Lone Ranger” (December 17, 1937); “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” Bob Newhart (1960); “The Wailers Burnin’,” The Wailers (1973); and “Graceland,” Paul Simon (1986) on your IPod? Possibly, but you might also be paying homage to the 2006 National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. This year’s list brings the total to 225 recordings deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” and that will be preserved forever and ever and ever.