Friday, July 31, 2009

Through the Eyes of Babes

There is a whiteboard in my office that I rarely use. My elder daughter, however, loves it. Here is her most recent work, inspired by the new bookcases I had made for our reading room.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

From Collection to House

Flipping through an airline magazine recently, I came across an advertisement for a house “built from pieces of the past.” These pieces include parts from McNary Dam, WWII landing mats, 100-year-old saw mills, old homestead houses, railroad bridges, Snake and Columbia River basalt, wind-fallen Black Locust, river rock, and more.

From the website of the builder and designer, Dirk Nelson:

Nelson had collected a treasure trove of Walla Walla valley history … Among the collection were beams & bolts from the old Louisiana Pacific mill to enormous light poles from the Columbia River’s McNary Dam. Railroad trestle girders lay stacked beside huge locust tree wood taken from the actual home site. With meticulous hand work, Nelson and his team, Living Space Construction transformed the boneyard finds into structural components that each hint at the story of their former lives.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Calvin by the Book

Today, 500 years ago, John Calvin (1509-1564) was born. An exhibition at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto, Calvin by the Book: A Literary Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Birth of John Calvin, focuses on Calvin’s life and legacy through books.
From the exhibition site:
John Calvin was a man of the book in every possible sense. First, he lived his life in an uncompromising manner by the Book … Second, he was a humanist and scholar who, living through the birth of modernity, not only depended on the printed word to inform his ideas, but also used the opportunities presented by the invention of the printing press to disseminate his thoughts and reflections to a world that was primed for change. Third, he helped to shape the history of the book itself. … Of all of the sheets of print produced by individual writers in the period from 1541 to 1565, Calvin is responsible for an astonishing 42% of the total …
Because he lived and wrote, Christianity has been forever changed; the political structures of the West have been permanently altered; even the economic realities by which we order our lives have been shaped by the vision that he and his disciples had of humanity’s place in creation.

Managing Exabytes

According to this YouTube video, an estimated four exabytes “of unique information” will be created this year—“more than the previous 5,000 years.”

Some years ago, to confront the challenges of managing and preserving large amounts of data generated over decades of space missions and observations, NASA’s Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems created the reference model for Open Archival Information Systems (OAIS).

A helpful introduction to this 148-page document is available here:

Unlike many standards, OAIS specifies no particular implementation, API, data format, or protocol. Instead, it’s an abstract model that provides four basic things:

  • A vocabulary for talking about common operations, services, and information structures of a repository. ... [see section 1]
  • A simple data model for the information that a repository takes in (or “ingests”, to use the OAIS vocabulary), manages internally, and provides to others. … [see sections 2 and 4]
  • A set of required responsibilities of the archive. … [see sections 3 and 5]
  • A set of recommended functions for carrying out the archive’s required responsibilities. … [see section 6].

Building on this model, in 2002 RLG-OCLC released a report on Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities, which was followed in 2007 by the RLG-NARA Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification: Criteria and Checklist. A number of institutions at present are working to become trusted digital repositories.

Monday, July 6, 2009


The Library of Congress’s NDIIPP website,, provides access to information about preserving digital culture. Recently added to the site is information about the BagIt digital transfer tool:

A bag is like a folder or directory on a computer. It is essentially comprised of three elements: A bag declaration text file, which is like a seal of authenticity; a text-file manifest listing the files in the collection; and a subdirectory – usually titled “data” – filled with the digital content. The manifest is machine readable for automated data ingest. The receiving computer analyzes the manifest and runs checksums on the contents; if the checksums match, the transfer is successful.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Record of the Day

From the Declaration of Independence:

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

A history of this record is available here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Many and the Many

This TED talk by Clay Shirky, about the historical significance of social media, nicely articulates the new media landscape of the 21st century:

  • It is “global, social, ubiquitous, and cheap.”
  • The new communication pattern is many-to-many.
  • Sources of information have become sites of collaboration.

Image: Partial map of the internet by Matt Britt, available from: