digital preservation & blogs

but first, some mathmatics:

long skirt + bike + strong gusty winds = a bad scene

a bad scene + a nice pedestrian = skirt distentangled from rear brakes

cycling + fruit + iced mocha + 11 hrs sleep = cheerful and intellectually engaged Elaine
greenberg is writing a history of vcr’s & video stores! trip on that.

carrie b. tells a story about paper archives. malcolm x papers that were saved from firebombing, stored in florida, put up for online auction by storage owner. paper wins, because it’s durable. (relatively speaking.) blogs as collections of personal papers. it’s almost too late to capture early blogging. (I think I may have lost my own earliest (pre-Blogger) blogging.)

wells: project to preserve a group of blogs, decided to focus on 2004 politics. even by fall 2005 a lot of material was gone, then thinking about Katrina blogs, but too close to the events, couldn’t identify which blogs were significant and/or long-lasting. instead went for current snapshot approach. broad/arbitrary categories: personal, professional, political, journalism/media, arts/entertainment, definers of the genre. each person in class identified a few from each category that were “significant.” famous vs. obscure? ended up with list of 75-100. 2-3 from each category studied, then presented.

locks? lox? I missed that bit. blogs that would be easy to capture technically, ended up with a total of 15, and then 5.5:

huffingtonpost, kottke, textism, bluishorange, al franken (the half), and I missed one. okay, that’s why Alison Headley is here.

q from carrie to allison: does writing for posterity change things? have always written that with the intention that it was going to stay out there. things that she’s wanted to take back, but doesn’t. once I publish it’s been published. “I don’t think that there are takebacks. I may be in the minority there….”

q from carrie to josh: defining the archival unit, what is the most salient feature of a blog/series of blogs, and how do we preserve? feels bad for speaking for the historian. depends on what individual is trying to research. we don’t know what questions people will be asking in 50 years, when there’s enough critical distance. the idealistic answer: come back to early 2006, etc. and really understand what it was to create and read in the environment. for him…general lived experience. interested in ads. frank conrad, early radio broadcaster, first radio ad, but nobody knows what it was for. design is fascinating. (why I keep screenshots!) the emergence of geography/maps; historians will want to see that, but it’ll be really difficult. the environment in addition to the actual content.

carrie refs history of slavery, the use of advertising as a research medium in that context.

carrie to linksvayer: copyright as a barrier to preservation (of cultural legacy)? technology is the main barrier, seems to be. quick explanation of creative commons.

spaced out for a bit. (alison makes jewelry! I wonder if she brought any with.)

carrie to alison: are we too late? depends: what is the scope of blogging? if it’s going to be big for a long time, then we’re still at the beginning. if it’s going to end, then maybe so. better now than never, she can think of some that she used to love (2000/2001) that are gone. about 30% of audience has the same experience.

carrie talking about losing the visuals of her early blog. same deal here. it feels weird to look at things I wrote in early 2001 but in the visual “clothes” of 2006.
to josh: what’s the thing? the post is a historical document. moving to a new template radically changes the historical context. one hands it’s a conceptual problem, and for libraries, categorization, difficult. (I lost his train of thought.) again, depends on the question being asked. and is it too late? keeps coming back to the history of radio…20 years between first use and first “broadcast” and again 20 years before NBC broadcast. here (sxsw) we keep thinking that so much has past, but relatively we are still way at the beginning.

to linksvayer: cultural environmentalism? term designed for lawyers, but take the analogy further to see how digital preservation fits, learning lessons from the environmental movement. the cultural/digital habitat?!

carrie: broaden to preservation issues in general:

shit. c sent me a gtalk msg (about sending back BSG disc 3) so I missed that last bit.

okay…the question of tracking authenticity, changes. definitely a challenge! (history paging Dave Winer.)

josh: historians are used to working with “stuff” this digital thing is tricky. project re: 9/11. w/in a few weeks, they put up a survey & collection mechanism, trying to get stuff quickly. wound up with archive of hundreds of thousands of digital items, very heterogenerous. making sure it’s around 100 years from now: not so easy. test bed for library of congress: what the hell do you do with all this stuff? January issue of d-lib.

carrie: usually librarians aren’t in on the original collecting of archive items. example of weirdo who liked tobacco stuff, turned it over to a library; people with passions, when they die stuff goes to a library. not likely to happen with digital stuff. educate people about taking care of stuff. zeldman story about music in old format…terrified of losing jpgs/tiffs of early photos of childhood…and she knows what she’s doing!

what can we help people do to preserve their own digital legacies?

linksvayer: people do like backing up, so anything to make that easier is a good idea.

josh: metadata about it. one nice thing about a lot of blogs is that they tend to be pretty structured.

carrie & josh in conversation: if you think your intellectual output is going to be worth something, having your records in blog format may be a good thing. (I’ve almost tossed out my boxes of old paper journals a few times. they’re fscking hard to move.) then there’s the scattering problem…email, flickr, social bookmarking, etc.

wells: standards, open standards, structuring, relying on people to organize their lives in some meaningful way! (oy, the boxes of grandma n’s photos.)

audience q: attempt to find inadvertant archives? project in hopkins in ’97, cd for prospective students, also a snapshot of campus.

carrie: bbc doomsday in the 80s. laser disc. because it was proprietary, became obsolete, 2 colleges created an emulator, took YEARS to get to the content. figuring out about how much cost is in emulation.

alison: blogs in general as inadvertant archives. wasn’t her intent to write for posterity. doesn’t think most people w/LJs etc are thinking of history. (I must be the lone weirdo that way.)

wells: value is in items in collection as a whole, becomes the cultural significance.

josh: were asked to do something similar to 9/11 project with last yr’s hurricanes. one thing avail. now have social photos & bookmarks, tags. look at stuff tagged: katrina. (I have a delicious tag katrina-rita) then ask people with those items if they have other stuff. but all this focus crowds out the non-digerati, the people w/out computers. like the illiterate of years past: making sure that we get those voices.

carrie: now archivists get a mix of print & digital. relating physical to digital objects will be a problem for a while.

audience q: how do you archive w/out changing how people do stuff? (carrie: prime directive.) carrie relates to book publishing, move to acid-free paper. josh: plea to archive the ephemera. when feds archive, they have to notify, and then the next blog item: “dude, I’m in the library of congress!” carrie mentions the scrapbookers, and they know about the preservation issues.

audience q: how do you plan on archiving the look? browsercam, social bookmarking cache? carrie: flipside of separating content from presentation! she thinks about creating gallery of screenshots, but then the author is also the curator.

alison: will find posts about redesigning, but that design isn’t there. as a writer, would prioritze the content, but the look is also important. she has an archive of design iterations, but she does editorialize, which “messes with” the history of it.

josh: flattening of time. (dude I said that earlier.) lazyweb idea for WP plugin: every time the design changed, creates a cvs or something. figure out the right template for the time period. (I was just having that same idea!) loss of historical aura.

lyceum guy: stores screenshots? (assuming that browsers won’t be able to render the exact same thing, later.) carrie: no, grabs via http all stuff. render formats? if you stick to well-documented formats/standards, will be easier for librarians of the future to render with good emulators. josh: standards keep you out of the dustbin of history.

note of broader concern from audience: the scope, daunting! DoD sent historians to Iraq, but they didn’t have enough hard drives! what’s the hope?!

big shrug-like experience from the whole panel. wells: most pressing issue facing profession as a whole.

josh: one promising thing: the direction the web is going, more and more people can be packrats.

my comment: if grandma had had flickr, we would’ve known what the hell that storage unit of photos was about. josh notes info from cameras, exif, maybe gps.
q: — legal aspects? waybackmachine does this all the time, why did it take so long to get their project to get permission? all humans doing this. linksvayer: waybackmachine seems to get away with it because they slurp up everything. plug for cc licenses.

josh: talking about archiving the rendered version. two kinds of archiving for digital objects: the final project or the pieces + the system. think about archiving both tools and content. the database, the actual program. provenance of all the different elements.

best panel.

4 Replies to “digital preservation & blogs”

  1. We got a late start this morning and missed this panel. Dammit! But hey, thanks for posting your notes. I’d be interested to hear more about what you thought about the panel, too—maybe later today.

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