Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Internet Archive’s Book Bank

After the Internet Archive digitizes a book from a library in order to provide free public access to people world-wide, these books go back on the shelves of the library. We noticed an increasing number of books from these libraries moving books to “off site repositories” (1 2 3 4) to make space in central buildings for more meeting spaces and work spaces. These repositories have filled quickly and sometimes prompt the de-accessioning of books. ...
As the Internet Archive has digitized collections and placed them on our computer disks, we have found that the digital versions have more and more in common with physical versions. The computer hard disks, while holding digital data, are still physical objects. As such we archive them as they retire after their 3-5 year lifetime. Similarly, we also archive microfilm, which was a previous generation’s access format. So hard drives are just another physical format that stores information. This connection showed us that physical archiving is still an important function in a digital era. ...
Internet Archive is building a physical archive for the long term preservation of one copy of every book, record, and movie we are able to attract or acquire.  Because we expect day-to-day access to these materials to occur through digital means, the our physical archive is designed for long-term preservation of materials with only occasional, collection-scale retrieval. Because of this, we can create optimized environments for physical preservation and organizational structures that facilitate appropriate access. A seed bank might be conceptually closest to what we have in mind: storing important objects in safe ways to be used for redundancy, authority, and in case of catastrophe.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Gift of Time to Think Beyond

Today we have immediate access to more recorded information than ever before in history. However, assuming that we desire knowledge to be housed in the human brain as well as inside technological gadgets and data store clouds, it must always be remembered that accessing information and the acquisition of knowledge are two different phenomena. Information access does not equal knowledge gained. Thanks to our information technology, the former is becoming relatively easy, while the latter continues to be difficult. It continues to take time. The power of reading, whether of print or online text, continues to lie in this power of time — time to digest words, time to read between the lines, time to reflect on ideas, and time to think beyond one’s self, one’s place, and one’s time in the pursuit of knowledge.

Monday, June 6, 2011

E-Books and Some Limits of Digital Materiality

From “5 Reasons Why E-Books Aren’t There Yet” (Wired), five things about e-books that might give you pause about saying good riddance to the printed page”:

  1. An unfinished e-book isn’t a constant reminder to finish reading it.
  2. You can’t keep your books all in one place.
  3. Notes in the margins help you think.
  4. E-books are positioned as disposable, but aren’t priced that way.
  5. E-books can’t be used for interior design.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Marginal Marginalia

Below, pulled from the general collection last week, is one of Myron Eells’s reactions within a copy of J. P. MacLean’s A Manual of the Antiquity of Man (Boston: Universalist Publishing House, 1877). (There are more substantial interactions with the text elsewhere.)