shannon_mattern + archives   756

Emergency Urbanism in Sabra, Beirut in: Public Anthropologist Volume 1 Issue 2 ( 2019)
Since the mid-1980s, generations of displaced people have sought refuge in the ramshackle buildings that were once the Gaza-Ramallah Hospital, a multi-story hospital complex built by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (plo). Damaged during the civil war, today the buildings blend in with the run-down Sabra-Shatila neighbourhood in Beirut’s “misery belt.” This paper charts the buildings’ history and main characters: the lodgers, landlords, and gatekeepers who respectively lease, rent, and control the dilapidated buildings’ dark corridors, cramped flats, and garbage-strewn stairways. The multi-story buildings are examples of emergency urbanism whereby displaced people seek refuge in cities, and their story can be read as a vertical migration history of people escaping conflict, displacement, and destitution. Examining the buildings as archives of spatial and political histories provides a genealogy of displacement and emplacement that can inform the study of emergency urbanism and point to solutions in cities for refugees lacking access to affordable housing.
architecture  migration  refugees  emergency  archives  housing 
17 days ago by shannon_mattern
Climate Change Could Erase Human History. These Archivists Are Trying to Save It - VICE
the Repository Data Project isn’t just about archivists taking cultural stock. The project, at its core, forces us to ask difficult questions. In a changing world, one where climate change will change the way coastlines look and likely the way governments function in upcoming decades, who and what will we choose to remember?

Some archivists are organizing teach-ins for people to learn about how to protect their histories. Archivists are taking millions of records, and one by one, putting them in folders and vaults designed to withstand the worst conditions a warming world will bring. Archivists are starting to realize that we need to adapt to a changing world, because our cultural memory is at stake....

Tansey and Goldman also collaborated with Penn State University geographer Tara Mazurczyk and PSU librarian Nathan Piekielek to assess how these archives would be impacted by climate change. Their paper, which was published in the journal Climate Risk Management in 2018, found that climate change posts a severe risk to archives.

According to the study, 98.8 percent of archives are likely to be affected by at least one climate risk factor, such as sea level rise, storm surge, flooding, increased rain, warmer temperatures, or humidity. The researchers assessed conditions in a “business as usual” scenario, assuming that we collectively do little to nothing to mitigate climate change.
archives  climate_change 
4 weeks ago by shannon_mattern
Simla 'below Cart Road': Biographies of houses in the margins of an Imperial urban age — Learning From Small Cities
What emerges from these house biographies is a cosmopolitan history of Simla’s slopes that has been obscured by the imperial stories of grandeur at the top of the hill, by colonial and post-colonial historians alike. Biographies of houses from below Cart road right down to the graveyard near the sewers at the bottom, tell us how ordinary Simla was built laboriously, slowly and incrementally by working-class Muslims and lower castes. This is clear from the applications which are signed with fingerprints (indicating illiteracy) or with rudimentary handwriting in Urdu, and because last names are invariably given as owners’ occupation...

Each house can only be found if you know where their neighbour’s house is located, and in so doing each house is tied to others through an intricate thread of correlation and co-dependence. This is an analogue format of networked connectivity in Simla’s early days.

As we turn the pages, we often see a gap in house biographies for 10-15 years between 1940s and 50s. When we see accounts again, the names have changed. The Muslim names are replaced by Hindu names reflecting the wider geopolitics of partition of British India along religious lines in 1947. The Muslim owners either left in a hurry or sold off their properties to migrate to Pakistan; incoming Hindu refugees either bought these houses or were allocated these by the state in compensation for losing their property in Pakistan....

As we continue to delve into the accounts of house building, a bigger picture begins to emerge – a contentious politics of municipal regulation, planning and governance in the face of rapid urbanization – a story that extends from colonial to postcolonial contexts. The desire to reorder Krishna Nagar continues to be part of a wider imagination of this place as a ‘slum’– one that should ‘be bombed out of the face of earth’as one of our elite respondents said to us. Yet the house biographies also reveal that the taxonomies of il/legality and un/authorized constructions are far more complicated that its denotation as a ‘slum’ below Cart road. The biographies suggest that each house has been through cycles of authorization, building, encroachments, subdivision, rebuilding, demolition, regularization, and so on since the 19thcentury. Krishna Nagar may have poor or absent infrastructure, but the messiness of property rights and regularization certificates make clear determination of il/legality impossible and its label as a ‘slum’ deeply problematic. ...

Unlike the way that our navigation of the city is now ordered by Google maps, house biographies present us with a very different order of relational and temporal maps that visualise a critical cartography from below. They do not provide us with the geolocated pins of Google, rather with stories of poverty, affluence, neighbourly politics and family life that are part of locating these houses using landmarks. These biographies are maps of time that are rich with navigational insights – they urge us to look deeper into Simla’s reliance as an imperial Capital above on the labouring classes who were literally building its foundations in the hill slopes below. These biographies visualise the continuous struggles for space and legitimacy amongst the working classes, and thus also provide a historiography of postcolonial planning.
illegality  urban_history  archives  urban_archaeology  palimpsest 
6 weeks ago by shannon_mattern
OlaRonke on Instagram: “Currently writing for grad school about the power, importance and sacred aspect of Black archives, and imagining a conversation with one…”
Black radical librarian Mayme Agnew Clayton, who single handedly collected African American artifacts for 45 years. The Mayme A Clayton Library and Musuem contains over two million rare books, films, documents, photographs and works of art related to the history and culture of African Americans.
archives  collection  race  blackness 
10 weeks ago by shannon_mattern
Dunham’s Data is a three year project (2018-2021) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), under the direction of Kate Elswit (PI, University of London, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama) and Harmony Bench (CI, The Ohio State University). Through this project, we explore the kinds of questions and problems that make the analysis and visualization of data meaningful for dance historical inquiry. To do so, we are investigating how dance moves both across geographical locations and across networks of cultural, artistic, and financial capital through the case study of Katherine Dunham.
archives  dance  performance 
12 weeks ago by shannon_mattern
Toward Environmentally Sustainable Digital Preservation
Digital preservation relies on technological infrastructure (information and communication technology, ICT) that has considerable negative environmental impacts, which in turn threaten the very organizations tasked with preserving digital content. While altering technology use can reduce the impact of digital preservation practices, this alone is not a strategy for sustainable practice. Moving toward environmentally sustainable digital preservation requires critically examining the motivations and assumptions that shape current practice. Building on Goldman’s challenge to current practices for digital authenticity and using Ehrenfeld’s sustainability framework, we propose explicitly integrating environmental sustainability into digital preservation practice by shifting cultural heritage professionals’ paradigm of appraisal, permanence, and availability of digital content.

The article is organized in four parts. First, we review the literature for differing uses of the term “sustainability” in the cultural heritage field: financial, staffing, and environmental. Second, we examine the negative environmental effects of ICT throughout the full life cycle of its components to fill a gap in the cultural heritage literature, which primarily focuses on the electricity use of ICT. Next, we offer suggestions for reducing digital preservation’s negative environmental impacts through altered technology use as a stopgap measure. Finally, we call for a paradigm shift in digital preservation practice in the areas of appraisal, permanence, and availability. For each area, we propose a model for sustainable practice, providing a framework for sustainable choices moving forward.
preservation  sustainability  resilience  digital  archives 
july 2019 by shannon_mattern
DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly: Archival Liveness: Designing with Collections Before and During Cataloguing and Digitization
Earlier, we suggested that our work designing with and for liveness offered a response to concerns about the role of archives in institutionalising the past. In our case, the Marginalia Machine and the Twitter bot were ways of simultaneously investigating archival liveness and engaging our project participants and wider audiences with the archival process, with the work-in-progress catalogue interface design and with the project more generally. While our own work (so far) does not afford significant opportunity for users of the archive to intervene in the cataloguing process we believe that further potential for this exists.
To produce such design work has methodological implications as described but also, we feel, indicates a role for a particular kind of researcher. Such a researcher would have an interdisciplinary background, sensitizing her to the value and interest of the archival materials while bringing a range of technical and creative skills enabling different kinds of design intervention. She would be in a position to quickly conceptualize, develop, and release work in an opportunistic and occasional fashion, using the materials made available, early and often. This particular kind of working practice (one that is agile, responsive, opportunistic) may encounter difficulties at larger scales. As we have suggested, one of the values of our way of working was in supporting a kind of familiarity not only with materials and technical systems but also with the working patterns and concerns of our colleagues in the library. Much of our work was produced with what was effectively unfinished materials (the work-in-progress catalogue particularly) and this access was negotiated on a personal level. A future challenge for this work is to consider how some of the rich temporal features of archiving may translate on a scale where such negotiation is not feasible. One emergent design consideration here is how the technical tools of archivists (such as archival data base software) might be designed to reflect a variety of states of “finishedness” rather than simply being unavailable until the point of completion. It is interesting to at least speculate on the possibilities for design if the default state of catalogues in progress were accessible rather than closed. They could then be used in a timely and experimental way taking advantage of the liveness of the process of archiving.
archives  temporality  interfaces 
july 2019 by shannon_mattern
Imagining: Creating Spaces for Indigenous Ontologies: Cataloging & Classification Quarterly: Vol 53, No 5-6
For at least half a century, catalogers have struggled with how to catalog and classify Native American and Indigenous peoples materials in library, archive, and museum collections. Understanding how colonialism works can help those in the field of knowledge organization appreciate the power dynamics embedded in the marginalization of Native American and Indigenous peoples materials through standardization, misnaming, and other practices. The decolonizing methodology of imagining provides one way that knowledge organization practitioners and theorists can acknowledge and discern the possibilities of Indigenous community-based approaches to the development of alternative information structures.
archives  ontologies  indigenous 
july 2019 by shannon_mattern
change us, too – Bethany Nowviskie
I wanted to know if we were designing libraries that “activate imaginations—both their users’ imaginations and those of the expert practitioners who craft and maintain them.” Are we building libraries free from what indigenous information scholars Marisa Duarte and Miranda Belarde-Lewis demonstrate are colonially-imposed classification structures, or from what Rasheedah Phillips, a community activist and Black Quantum Futurist artist, shows are fatalistic and frankly deadly Western conceptions of linear time? Are we open (with scholar Deborah Thomas) to the alternate temporalities of “the Caribbean otherwise”—and with speculative fiction writer Sofia Samatar to an Afropolitanism that asserts “black people belong in all spaces?” Are we open to what Michelle Caswell and Anne Gilliland call “impossible archival imaginaries?” To the usable pasts articulated in Kodwo Eshun’s remarkable works of music and media criticism? Are we open, with designer Tom Schofield and collaborators, to a sense of “archival liveness” in the co-creation of library finding aids with those making active use of unprocessed collections? Are we open to Mitchell Whitelaw’s remarkable ecological and so-called “generous interfaces” for library collections? And are we in any way designing libraries and archives that grapple with what I came, through Dipesh Chakrabarty and others, to see as the fundamental paradox of the Anthropocene—that it is a moment asking us to hold both unpredictability and planetary-scale inevitability simultaneously in mind?
archives  indigenous  anthropocene  temporality 
july 2019 by shannon_mattern
The Day the Music Burned - The New York Times
The act of listening again has defined music culture for a century. It is also the basis of the multibillion-dollar record industry. Today a stupefying bounty of recordings is available on streaming audio services, floating free of the CDs, LPs and other delivery systems that once brought them to audiences. The metaphors we use to describe this mass of digitized sound bespeak our almost mystical sense that recorded music has dematerialized and slipped the bonds of earth. The Cloud. The Celestial Jukebox. Something close to the entire history of music hovers in the ether, waiting to be summoned into our earbuds by a tap on a touch-screen.

This is the utopian tale we tell ourselves, at least. In fact, vast gaps remain between the historical corpus of recorded music and that which has been digitized. Gerald Seligman, executive director of the National Recording Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Library of Congress, estimated in 2013 that less than 18 percent of commercial music archives had been transferred and made available through streaming and download services. That figure underscores a misapprehension: the assumption that the physical relics of recorded sound are obsolete and expendable. “It feels as if music has evolved beyond the reach of objects,” says Andy Zax, a Grammy-nominated producer and writer who works on reissued recordings. “In fact we are as dependent on irritating physical stuff as we ever were.”

The objects in question are master recordings: millions of reels of magnetic tape, stored in libraries like the one that occupied the backlot vault. These archives hold other masters of various vintages: the lacquer, glass and metal masters that predated tape, and disk drives and digital tapes from the past few decades. They comprise, as Zax said at a music conference, “a bewildering array of formats: albums, singles, demos ... the entire careers of artists we know everything about and artists we know nothing about. ... The future of all of the recorded music that we have ever heard — and, for that matter, all of the recorded music that we haven’t heard yet — depends on our ability to maintain these artifacts.”

It is sonic fidelity, first and foremost, that defines the importance of masters. “A master is the truest capture of a piece of recorded music,” said Adam Block, the former president of Legacy Recordings, Sony Music Entertainment’s catalog arm. “Sonically, masters can be stunning in their capturing of an event in time. Every copy thereafter is a sonic step away.”

This is not an academic point. The recording industry is a business of copies; often as not, it’s a business of copies of copies of copies. A Spotify listener who clicks on a favorite old song may hear a file in a compressed audio format called Ogg Vorbis. That file was probably created by converting an MP3, which may have been ripped years earlier from a CD, which itself may have been created from a suboptimal “safety copy” of the LP master — or even from a dubbed duplicate of that dubbed duplicate. Audiophiles complain that the digital era, with its rampant copy-paste ethos and jumble of old and new formats, is an age of debased sound: lossy audio files created from nth-generation transfers; cheap vinyl reissues, marketed to analog-fetishists but pressed up from sludgy non-analog sources. “It’s the audio equivalent of the game of ‘Telephone,’ ” says Henry Sapoznik, a celebrated producer of historical compilation albums. “Who really would be satisfied with the sixth message in?”
archives  storage  sound  preservation  digitization  music  format_studies 
june 2019 by shannon_mattern
A Prime Condition - Triple Canopy
Peter and Dwight devour Hollywood’s greatest visions of End Times in preparation for their descent into a massive underground storage facility.

Starring Jesse Wakeman. Special thanks to Lee Spence at Underground Vaults and Storage, Mike at Record Mart NYC, and Richard Heath.
storage  underground  video  geology  archives  climate_control 
may 2019 by shannon_mattern
inhabitants: How does video become evidence?
Citizen-shot footage distributed through social media has galvanized social movements, in the demand for transparency and accountability. As a political tool, such videos have reverted surveillance against itself, proposing instead a record that comes from below; in other words, a type of vigilance led by citizens against power and abuse, in what has been called "sousveillance". Yet, beyond our newsfeeds, how does citizen-shot video actually become evidence? How does it perform in the courtroom? Do most of these videos have legal value?

Images that have truth-value in the court of public opinion may not in reality have evidentiary value. In this episode of inhabitants we look at what determines such a gap between images that we perceive to be blatantly true and those that fulfill the requirements of evidence before the court of law. While media and data forensics have become fundamental for the legal validation of footage, certain measures and camera techniques can also help ensure that citizen-shot videos constitute evidence of violence, abuse, and crime.
video  evidence  epistemology  documentation  archives 
may 2019 by shannon_mattern
inhabitants: Compost Archive
West Africa’s Guinea-Bissau declared unilaterally independence in 1973 and was recognized internationally in 1975 along with the other former Portuguese colonies. Luta ca caba inda (The Struggle Is Not Over Yet) is the title of a documentary film on the country’s post-independence left unfinished in 1980. Even in its fragmentary form, it is but one of several testimonies of a decade of militant cinema in the country, as part of the people's struggle for independence from Portuguese colonialism, between 1963 and 1974, and the subsequent nation-building.

The remains of this period of politically-engaged cinema, including finished and unfinished Guinean films, audio recordings, and film prints donated by countries that supported the struggle, are archived at the Instituto Nacional de Cinema e Audiovisual (INCA) in Bissau. Given its deteriorated condition, in 2012, in collaboration with the Guinean filmmakers Sana na N'Hada, Flora Gomes and Suleimane Biai and with institutional support from Arsenal - Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin, the artist Filipa César and the curator Tobias Hering embarked on a long-term project, titled Luta ca caba inda (2012-2015), aimed at re-accessing this archive.

The entire assemblage of sound and footage was digitalized without previous restoration, i.e. without attempting to bring the ruined footage to a hypothetical original state. This decision transcended the lack of financial means for proper treatment of the celluloid. Rather, it came from an interest in the inscription in the image of the material decomposition of the celluloid. Since then, in the course of the Luta ca caba inda project a series of discursive events and public screenings have been dedicated to activating the archive.

Upon inhabitants’s invitation, the short-video Compost Archive by filmmakers and visual artists Filipa César and Louis Henderson comes out of the conference 4th Encounters Beyond History: Luta ca caba inda - An Archive in Relation, held at Centro José de Guimarães in Portugal in December of 2015. For the 4th Encounters, a series of thinkers, artists and filmmakers were invited to access a selection of 72 files from the archive. Compost Archive is based on Louis Henderson’s contribution for the conference, entitled Compost in the Créole Garden: The Archive as a Multispecies Assemblage, and proposes a navigation through the materiality of the footage, sounds and accessing apparatuses, assembled together with excerpts from the participant’s statements.
film  archives  preservation 
may 2019 by shannon_mattern
Macrostrat is a platform for the aggregation and distribution of geological data relevant to the spatial and temporal distribution of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks as well as data extracted from them. It is linked to the GeoDeepDive digital library and machine reading system, and it aims to become a community resource for the addition, editing, and distribution of new stratigraphic, lithological, environmental, and economic data. Interactive applications built upon Macrostrat are designed for educational and research purposes.
geology  archives  mapping  cartography  stratigraphy 
may 2019 by shannon_mattern
Kate Crawford, Trevor Paglen: Datafication of Science | Mediathek 69622
Who defines the meaning of images? What are the political implications of pattern recognition and machine learning? During the Opening Days of The New Alphabet Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen discusses the power of images and how they are being processed by AI systems.
classification  machine_vision  archives  artificial_intelligence  pattern 
may 2019 by shannon_mattern
Filmmaker unearths historical treasures in home movies - YouTube
Rick Prelinger produces a film series called “Lost Landscapes," montages that present city life across 100 years. These portraits tell hidden histories of American cities through the most personal of lenses: home movies. So far, he’s presented films about San Francisco, Detroit, Oakland, Los Angeles, and New York. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Joanne Elgart Jennings reports.
film  archives  prelinger 
april 2019 by shannon_mattern
80s.NYC - street view of 1980s New York
ABOUT is a map-based full street view of 1980s New York City, organizing photographs from the New York City Municipal Archives’ Department of Finance Collection into an easy-to-browse glimpse of the streetscape 30 years ago.

During the mid-1980s, the City of New York photographed every property in the five boroughs. The project had a bureaucratic origin: the photos were used by the Department of Finance to estimate real property values for taxation purposes. Buildings as well as vacant lots were photographed because both are taxed. Because it was difficult to distinguish while shooting between taxable and tax-exempt buildings, like religious institutions or government offices, the photographers just shot everything. The result is a remarkable body of imagery – over 800,000 color 35mm photos in both negative and print formats....


The Finance Department recorded each 1980s print as one frame on Laser Video Disks (LVDs), using analog video capture. When the Archives obtained possession of the photo set, they extracted low-resolution TIFF files of each LVD frame. This site uses the low-res JPG thumbnails of these TIFFs.

The underlying photos of individual buildings represented by these thumbnails won’t win any prizes for technical merit. They’re small, grainy, washed out and often the buildings might be unrecognizable. Still, taken as a whole, the thumbnails paint a distinctive picture of New York City in the 1980s – in many places, recovering from near-bankruptcy in the prior decade which left hulks of burned-out buildings and garbage-strewn lots; in other places, hanging on to the grandeur and glory of the greatest city in the world.

The city-owned imagery is publicly viewable on the New York City Municipal Archives website but the viewing format is limited. The default organizing principle there is the city’s Borough-Block-Lot (BBL) numbering scheme, which alone or together with address searching, is useful for retrieving images of individual buildings. There is no map-based search like has. The street view-style presentation of also provides block and neighborhood context that’s missing from a building-by-building view.
urban_history  new_york  archives  photographs  urban_studies  mapping 
april 2019 by shannon_mattern
‘Graveyards of Exclusion:’ Archives, Prisons, and the Bounds of Belonging
It would be inaccurate to claim that the way that the French marshalled memory to foment a national identity was mirrored in the United States. Rather, the earliest archival repositories in the United States were the private historical societies and manuscript libraries of New England and the mid-Atlantic regions of the nascent nation. Their primary purpose was not to assemble an archive for the new idea of America, nor was it to be accessible to everyone. Instead these institutions largely collected family papers of the wealthy merchants, enslavers, and politicians who mostly funded these operations. The early emphasis on documenting family history explains why the first public archives in the US emerge in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi following the end of Reconstruction in the South. Without a reliable source of public records, champions of the Lost Cause would have been unable to document their lineage to the Confederate soldiers to whom many Southern towns began erecting monuments and memorials at this same time. A public archive also allowed white Southerners to file claims for pensions owed to descendants of veterans as well as their ability to join groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy...

Contrary to what many archivists like to admit, we do not — or, I did not — spend the majority of the day helping historians find the last missing link in the puzzle they were trying to solve and later publish for a prestigious university press. The most consistent and persistent user base of archival repositories have been genealogists...

"...EAC-CPF implicitly inscribes the family as a natural, stable, + consistent corporal entity. This assumption barely holds up for white ppl..., and it certainly does not hold up for the black, indigenous + Latinx peoples who have had to forge familial ties as a way to cope with white supremacy, cisgender heteronormativity, forced migration, mass criminalization, and invading armies ...

the growing expectation that archives in democratic states exist as a form of protection against a violent, tyrannical, and discriminatory state.... One might read the ever-expanding literature and praxis of community archives as an articulation of the tension between the archive as a site that upholds citizenship and the archive as a site that usurps it...

Whereas archives instantiate and help to facilitate kinship and citizenship ties, the prison exists to ensure their erasure. ... families and their incarcerated loved ones persist and resist in creative ways, but the overall impact is clear: fewer and weaker familial bonds that are systematically eroded as well as barriers to birth fresh ties.

The assault on kinship by the prison is surpassed only by its attack on citizenship....

While prisons enforce many other schemes of racist, sexist, and classist controls, it might be said that they additionally enforce a regime that seeks to break kinship ties and dissolve citizenship for people in prison. The mode of the prison’s execution — long-term incarceration and the violence associated with it — works to serve these larger ends as well and, when placed alongside of archives, mark prisons as formative sites of un-belonging....

An archivist with whom I formerly worked once said that archives are a type of death management work. She advised that archival repositories represent the documentary final resting places of a person’s lived experiences. Both she and Derrick are correct, in a sense. Archives manage lives after death, and prisons manage lives before death.
archives  prisons  incarceration  genealogy 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
Always Already Computational • Always Already Computational - Collections as Data
Collections as Data is an Institute of Museum and Library Services supported effort that aims to foster a strategic approach to developing, describing, providing access to, and encouraging reuse of collections that support computationally-driven research and teaching in areas including but not limited to Digital Humanities, Public History, Digital History, data driven Journalism, Digital Social Science, and Digital Art History.

Partners will iteratively refine and extend collections as data work across 6 disciplinary and professional conferences, synchronous and asynchronous online events, this site, and other venues as they arise. This effort will produce a collections as data framework, use cases and user stories, and functional requirements that support collections as data infrastructure development.
digital_collections  archives  metadata  collections_as_data 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
The Collier Classification System for Very Small Objects
Historically we have sought to know the world by categorizing and classifying what we see around us. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, natural philosophers such as John Ray (1627-1705); Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788); and Carl von Linnaeus (1707-1778) worked to create universalized systems of classification that could be used to name all things found in nature. Their work was influential, and a slightly modified version of the original Linnaean Classification System is still used by scientists today.

There is, however, a whole universe of easily overlooked and forgotten things that remain unclassified by any unified taxonomy. Once noticed, these things, which I call Very Small Objects, can be found in every niche and corner in staggering numbers and varieties. We encounter these objects every day hidden in plain sight. They fill our pockets, cabinets, and corners. They populate our environments and make our machines work. They come from our plants, our pets, and even from our own bodies.

Because these objects come from diverse sources, and because they are comprised of non-living and never-living things, they cannot currently be grouped together under any existing classification system: systems in use today describe and name living things, metals, and minerals in isolation from each other. Current systems also exclude man-made objects from their catalogs of the natural world, ignoring the fact that “nature” has been profoundly affected by human by-products. Man-made objects have long been filling up our world and reshaping the very nature of “nature.” These man-made objects can often be quite indistinguishable from other “natural” Small Objects, particularly after long periods of exposure in harsh environments.
classifications  archives  organization  things 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
Videomuseum - Réseau des collections publiques d'art moderne et contemporain
Videomuseum is a consortium of museums and other public structures managing modern and contemporary art collections (national museums, town, county or regional authority museums, Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap), which manages the national collection named Fonds national d’art contemporain (Fnac), Frac, foundations). They join in to develop methods and tools using the new information technologies, with a view to increase the knowledge and dissemination of their heritage. These methods and tools allow : the computerization of ressources and of collections management through the software Gcoll and knowledge dissemination regarding these collections through the Internet with the software Navigart.
digital_collections  archives  interfaces 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
COINS — A journey through a rich cultural collection
Do you remember playing with the coins of your parents and the journeys they spoke of? Now you have the chance to do the same thing again, but this time with a lot more coins belonging to one of the biggest coin collections in the world, the Münzkabinett Berlin! Every coin has its own history. It could even be that Alexander the Great or Caesar held them in their hands and spent them on their world changing wars! This tool gives you the chance to explore these coins and sort them through different layouts and filters. Please be our guest and help us with our big chaos right here…
visualization  collection  digital_collections  archives  interfaces 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
Raoul Hausmann Sammlung Online
Die folgende Visualisierung ist ein Prototyp, erstellt im Rahmen der Masterarbeit „Perspektivbedingte Datenvisualisierungen“ (Mark-Jan Bludau) an der FH Potsdam in Zusammenarbeit mit der Berlinischen Galerie. Der Prototyp ist eine explorative Visualisierung der Daten und Bilder des Raoul Hausmann Nachlasses der Berlinischen Galerie und soll einen Einblick in die Vielfalt der Sammlung ermöglichen. Raoul Hausmann (1886 Wien / Österreich – 1971 Limoges / Frankreich) war einer der bekanntesten Vertreter des Berliner Dadaismus. Die Sammlung, die den Großteil seiner bis 1933 in Berlin entstandenen Werke enthält, beinhaltet von Gemälden, Zeichnungen, Fotografien, Collagen, Fotomontagen und Manuskripten über persönliche Notizen, Zeitungsausschnitten und Briefe eine große Vielfalt an unterschiedlichsten künstlerischen und auch privaten Hinterlassenschaften.

Diese Visualisierung ist prototypisch und optimiert für die Nutzung mit den aktuellen Browser-Versionen von Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari und Edge und eine Auflösung von mindestens 1024x768 px.
interfaces  digital_collections  archives 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
Jane E Anderson
Dr. Jane Anderson is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at New York University. Jane has a Ph.D. in Law from the Law School at University of New South Wales in Australia. Her work is focused on the philosophical and practical problems for intellectual property law and the protection of Indigenous/traditional knowledge resources and cultural heritage in support of Indigenous knowledge sovereignty. Jane has worked as an Expert Consultant for the World Intellectual Property Organization on a number of policy proposals for the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions and since 2007 she has actively worked with and for Native American and First Nation communities to develop strategies and regain control and cultural authority of cultural heritage held within cultural institutions in the United States.
epistemology  archives  indigenous  intellectual_property 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
Ancestral Voices Roundtable Webcast | Library of Congress
This panel discussion highlights a collaborative initiative to digitally restore, provide access to and curate the oldest recordings in the Library of Congress collections, the 1890s wax cylinder recordings of the Passamaquoddy tribal nation of Maine. The collaboration involves the Passamaquoddy community, the American Folklife Center and university-based digital platforms -- the Mukurtu content management system and Local Contexts, which develops Traditional Knowledge (TK) attribution labels for heritage materials based on indigenous cultural protocols. Passamaquoddy elders have been reviewing the sonically restored recordings, transcribing songs and stories in their language, adding enhanced metadata and generating TK labels to enrich the Library's catalog records and the newly-launched collection website. The discussion focuses on several aspects of the initiative, ranging from control of indigenous intellectual property to digital repatriation to emerging digital technologies to ethical curation and community outreach. In particular, Passamaquoddy community members describe the critical importance of ethnographic field recordings for sustaining cultural memory, preserving native identity and stemming the loss of language. They perform songs learned through listening to the recordings, including the first public performance of a song not heard since its documentation 128 years ago.
archives  digital_archives  indigenous  preservation  collection 
march 2019 by shannon_mattern
blah, blah, blah: diversity and inclusion, the code4lib edition – tara robertson
For groups that value innovation and new ideas, diversity is key. There’s plenty of social science research that demonstrates this but one of my favourite articles is by Dr. Katherine Phillips, Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Columbia Business School. Her article How Diversity Makes Us Smarter in Scientific American is an accessible summary of some of the key research in this area.

Dr. Phillips says that diverse groups tend to outperform homogeneous ones. When we’re around people like us, whether it’s people who are the same race, gender, have the same political viewpoints as us, it leads us to think we all hold the same information and share the same perspective. When we hear dissent from someone who is different from us, it provokes more thought than when it comes from someone who looks like us. Diversity jolts us into cognitive action in ways that homogeneity does not. Simply by being in the presence of someone who is not like you, you will be more diligent and open-minded. You will work harder on explaining your rationale and anticipating alternatives than you would have otherwise.

There’s a couple of other important points in Dr. Phillips’ article. While diverse groups performed better than homogeneous groups, they also had more conflict and enjoyed working together less. As someone works in D&I this means that as we build more diverse teams we also need to also build people’s skills on giving and receiving feedback and communicating when there’s conflict....

OMG, attending a talk by Professor Long T. Bui talk about the Vietnam War and refugee memory. Apparently the biggest archive (that’s not the National Archive) is the Vietnam Center & Archive at Texas Tech.

When he tried to look for materials on their catalog for Vietnamese or South Vietnamese, he couldn’t find anything. When he asked the librarian what’s going on, he was told that he has to use the term “gooks.”

We all know that that’s a racist term, so why would an archive use that term? He was actually told that the archive is neutral (!), and they have to use the term or titles given to photographs/materials given by the donors, most of whom are American soldiers....

Professor Kukutai specializes in Māori and indigenous demographic research and is a founding member of the Māori Data Sovereignty Network.

Shaun Angeles Penangke is the Men’s Collection Researcher at the Strehlow Research Centre in Alice Springs, Australia. He manages a highly restricted collection of Central Australian Aboriginal men’s cultural heritage material consisting of sacred artifacts, archival documents, genealogies, and a digitized catalogue of ceremonial film and song recordings.

Tuaratini is a professional storyteller who shared her wisdom on collecting, preserving and accessing cultural heritage collections in culturally appropriate and ethical ways....

Seeing the lack of racial diversity in the library school student data, which is our pipeline, we need to to rethink the MLIS/MLS as a requirement for all librarian jobs. We need to articulate the core competencies for what is important in libraries now and broaden our view of whose qualifications are relevant. We need to recruit from a more diverse pool of candidates. I’m not talking about lowering the bar, rather being more critical of what libraries need, which might raise the bar. ...

In addition to rethinking our hiring pool, we need to build in additional scaffolding so that people from underrepresented backgrounds in libraries can imagine a future for themselves in libraries, where there’s mentorship and a promotion path is clear.
diversity  libraries  archives  metadata  race  indigenous 
february 2019 by shannon_mattern
Contested Memory, pt 2: Cartographies of Freedom — Monument Lab
When we try to make sense of the past, we turn to records, and yet records are not neutral. In a previous piece on historiographies of Haiti, Canada, and the U.S., I discussed how the histories that are documented in our archives and on our monuments reflect the politics of their creation; the fragments outside the narrative are actively absented. As late Martinican writer Aimé Césaire reminds us, absence itself is a revelation. In his epic poem, Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land), he observes that documentation is a value-laden process. He writes that, for colonized people, narratives of place and ways of knowing are not fully captured within colonial records...

Similarly, territories of black life are not readily reflected on the maps of states developed through black dispossession. Knowing this, scholars thinking through the framework of black geographies are advancing alternative ways of imagining space, rooted in the promise and project of collective liberation. As key black geographies theorist Katherine McKittrick notes, “the profoundly disturbing nowhere of black life, in fact, provides a template to imagine the production of space not through patriarchal and colonial project trappings… [but as] an outlook that is structured by, but not beholden to, crass positivist geographies."...

Late historian Stephanie Camp mined fragments in the archives to construct a spatial history of black freedom practices that were developed within the confines of antebellum plantation life.4 Drawing from postcolonial theorist Edward Said’s concept of rival geographies, Camp demonstrated how enslaved people manipulated their knowledges of plantation landscapes, cultivated through a lifetime of place-based bondage, toward the cause of freedom. Whether assisting freedom seekers by providing shelter or resources, coming together at the plantation’s edges for nighttime gatherings, or even temporarily fleeing, enslaved people utilized their spatial knowledge to disrupt and destabilize the efficacy of plantation order. This rival geography offered enslaved people “alternative ways of knowing and using plantation and southern space that conflicted with planters’ ideals and demands.”5
blackness  slavery  archives  erasure  geography  mapping 
february 2019 by shannon_mattern
Scholar and Feminist Conference: The Politics and Ethics of the Archive | Barnard Center for Research on Women
The S&F Conference will bring together archivists, librarians, artists, activists, and scholars to discuss the particular political and ethical challenges that reside in the project of creating archives for communities and social justice movements. How do we move beyond the notion of the archive as indifferent repository of textual, material, and digital materials and toward an archive of engagement? How can archival material be put to use to draw attention to muted histories and otherwise invisible networks of affiliation and connection? What difference do recent digital tools and capabilities make in the archiving and accessing of the past? How can archives empower communities to tell their own stories and offer others access to those stories while remaining critical of the risks of appropriation? What political and ethical questions weigh most heavily on the contemporary work of the archive?
february 2019 by shannon_mattern
Archival Worlds: Documentation, Preservation, and Digital Media in the Middle East
This round-table explores contemporary archival practices in and from the Middle East, focusing on organizations and institutions that utilize digital platforms to collect and preserve documentary media from historically marginalized worlds. Going against the model of archive as a structure of power and governance, these alternative archives re-make the world in the present and radically re-envision its future by materializing and publicizing histories that are often silenced and invisibilized. How do such initiatives navigate between lived experience, material artifact, and digital database? How do they negotiate the creative dimensions of preservation, balancing the archive's historical mission with its ability to forge alternative communities in the present?
archives  digital_archives  middle_east 
february 2019 by shannon_mattern
I can’t get this out of my head: non-archivist academic talking about libraries “dumping” microforms. Here’s what happens in libraries when we jettison equipment and material that no one is using to make room for something in demand or providing special value to the collection....

Before books, microforms, serials, videotapes, etc. go to the great beyond, they’re offered to other libraries, including prison libraries and libraries in other countries.
archives  deaccessioning  deleting  erasure 
february 2019 by shannon_mattern
The Passamaquoddy Reclaim Their Culture Through Digital Repatriation | The New Yorker
In 1890, just months before the murder of some hundred and fifty Lakota Indians at Wounded Knee, a mustachioed anthropologist named Jesse Walter Fewkes dragged a state-of-the-art Edison phonograph to Passamaquoddy country. This was during the height of “salvage anthropology,” an attempt to document the many tribes that were being massacred into extinction, and Fewkes had received funding to study the Hopi and Zuni people, in the American Southwest. Before journeying there, he decided to practice recording on the “remnants of the Passamaquoddy.” The wife of the local Indian agent, who served as a liaison with the U.S. government, recruited members of the tribe to sing and speak at Fewkes’s request. For several days, they projected their voices into the giant metal cone of what Fewkes called Mister Phonograph. They told folk stories and performed songs and chants. They watched as a crank-powered needle inscribed thirty-six brown wax cylinders with the sounds....

The recordings were historic: the first sounds ever captured in the field. But, for the next century, they were held by Harvard’s Peabody Museum, and lost to the tribe. At least one wax cylinder included portions of a funeral ceremony that was intended to be heard only within the community but was made available to the public. Others registered facts about Passamaquoddy commerce and geography that might have been helpful to the tribal government. All of the wax cylinders contained precious audio of people’s grandmothers and grandfathers, in a language that was becoming more endangered with each passing year. In 1980, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which had obtained custody of Fewkes’s catalogue, sent cassette-tape transfers of the recordings to the tribe. These tapes arrived at a fateful time. For decades, tribal members had suffered extreme poverty, seen their language banned by the Catholic priests and nuns who oversaw the reservations, and lost their kids to the child-welfare system. But the Passamaquoddy and a sister nation, the Penobscot, propelled by the radicalism of the American Indian Movement, had just won federal recognition and litigated an unprecedented case against the State of Maine for its seizure of Native territory... Far-flung members of the tribe were drawn back to the reservations, where their children could learn Passamaquoddy in school and sing traditional songs. The wax-cylinder copies were staticky and difficult to make out, but a few elders recognized sounds from their childhood....

Today, a renewed spirit of indigenous activism, exemplified by the Standing Rock protests, in 2016, coincides with yet another homecoming for the Passamaquoddy wax cylinders. Audio engineers at the Library of Congress are using new technologies to convert all thirty-one surviving recordings into a much cleaner digital format, and, in a Native-first approach to archival work, the library is giving the tribe curatorial control. Soctomah is part of a team that is translating the audio and deciding which songs and stories the Library of Congress should make available to the public; whatever is sacred or private will be kept out of view. Tribal members, on the other hand, will have full online access, thanks to a content-management system designed for the community. According to the Library of Congress, this is the federal government’s most ambitious attempt at a practice known as digital repatriation....

In the past year, he has joined Soctomah in the task of transcribing the wax-cylinder recordings. Their process is to listen to one digital file at a time, second by second, mining it for phrases, musical elements, and cultural context. Each file is just two or three minutes long but can demand weeks, even months, of attention....

In 1978, the Standing Rock Sioux writer Vine Deloria, Jr., criticized this system, arguing that Native people had a “right to know” their past and take charge of their heritage. His vision was partially fulfilled in 1990, through the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which required museums and libraries receiving U.S. federal funds to return Native art, human remains, and religious and funerary objects to indigenous communities. Yet the law made no provision for other objects, including photographs, maps, oral histories, films, and audio recordings....

In 2006, a group of nineteen archivists, librarians, curators, historians, and anthropologists gathered in Arizona to draft a set of best practices for dealing with such materials—an effort to repair what one researcher described to me as our “colonial collecting endeavor.” The resulting guidelines, known as the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, encouraged holding institutions to open a dialogue with indigenous representatives, to eliminate “outdated, inaccurate, derogatory, or Eurocentric language” in catalogues, and, most controversially, to seek “clearance from Native American communities before accessing sensitive materials.” When the drafters sought an endorsement from the Society of American Archivists (S.A.A.), a battle ensued. Many S.A.A. members thought that it was wrong to prioritize the needs of a small group: If Native communities were given veto power, wouldn’t other minorities demand the same? One librarian called the Protocols “incompatible with our basic professional tenets of open and equitable access to information.”...

The idea of enlightened archival work might seem esoteric in the sobering context of indigenous peoples’ history. Yet the loss of culture is its own form of structural violence.... There was a time I thought, Who will take over all of this?” he said. “It isn’t just language preservation or cultural preservation; it’s people preservation.” Newell felt heartened by the recent ceremonial-days festival, and also by the return of the wax cylinders.
land  territory  archives  preservation  indigenous  repatriation  decolonization  colonialism 
january 2019 by shannon_mattern
USModernist's Priceless Architecture Magazine Archives - CityLab
Today, Smart manages the largest open digital archive of major 20th century American architecture magazines. The registry features roughly 6,000 complete issues spanning dozens of titles, from well-known periodicals such as American Architect, Arts & Architecture, and Sears, Roebuck and Co., to industry-specific trade magazines. In all, there are some two-and-a-half million downloadable pages—roughly 750 gigabytes of content—dating as far back as the late 1800s. The web resource also includes a masters’ gallery that showcases the residential output of the most famous 20th century architects: every design by Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner, Richard Neutra (including the Largent House in San Francisco, whose illegal demolition sparked outrage and made headlines earlier this month); and many more by dozens of other masters. Also available online is a podcast, now in its fourth year, that Smart hosts and produces.
archives  architecture  media_architecture  magazines  periodicals 
january 2019 by shannon_mattern
Provisions Library: Art for Social Change » Library
Provisions Library houses a growing collection of over 6000+ art and social change texts. The library is exploring the magic of libraries–as intimate places for encountering knowledge, unleashing stories, archiving systems, dreaming possibilities, and as public houses for ideas, exchanges, chance encounters, debates, collaborations and social transformation.

The books, periodicals and videos are available for use by artists, students, researchers and the general public.
archives  libraries  librar_art  social_change  protest 
january 2019 by shannon_mattern
Reading List | Rare Book School
L-115. Community Archives and Digital Cultural Memory - Advance Reading List
archives  race  syllabus  memory 
january 2019 by shannon_mattern
Archival Amnesty: In Search of Black American Transitional and Restorative Justice | Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies
Archives as memory institutions have a collective mandate to document and preserve a national cultural heritage. Recently, American archives and archivists have come under fire for pervasive homogeneity - for privileging, preserving, and reproducing a history that is predominantly white and further silencing the voices and histories of marginalized peoples and communities. This paper argues that as such, archives participate in a continuing amnesty that prevents transitional and restorative justice for black Americans in the United States. Using the history of lynching in America as a backdrop, this article explores the records and counter-narratives archives need to embrace in order to support truth and reconciliation processes for black Americans in the age of #ArchivesForBlackLives.
archives  justice  blackness  race  slavery 
january 2019 by shannon_mattern
Living with Machines - The British Library
'Living with Machines' will see data scientists working with curators, historians, geographers and computational linguists with the goal to devise new methods in data science and artificial intelligence that can be applied to historical resources, producing tools and software to analyse digitised collections at scale for the first time.

In recognition of the significant changes currently underway in technology, notably in artificial intelligence, the project will use the century following the first Industrial Revolution, and the changes brought about by the advance of technology across all aspects of society during this period as its focus point.

Initial research plans involve scientists from The Alan Turing Institute collaborating with curators and researchers to build new software to analyse data drawn initially from millions of pages of out-of-copyright newspaper collections from within the archive in the British Library’s National Newspaper Building, and from other digitised historical collections, most notably government collected data, such as the census and registration of births, marriages and deaths. The resulting new research methods will allow computational linguists and historians to track societal and cultural change in new ways during this transformative period in British history. Crucially, these new research methods will place the lives of ordinary people centre-stage, rather than privileging the perspectives of decision-makers and public commentators.

‘Living with Machines’ will take a radical approach to collaboration, breaking down barriers between academic traditions, bringing together data scientists and software engineers from The Alan Turing Institute and curators from the British Library as well as computational linguists, digital humanities scholars and historians from universities including Exeter, University of East Anglia, Cambridge and Queen Mary University of London.
collections  archives  digital_humanities  digital_methods 
december 2018 by shannon_mattern
HKW | Open Call: The Whole Life Academy
Archives are the memory space of a society. As an institution they deeply shape the lived realities in a transforming present. In a so called era of post-truth, archives reflect and effect worldviews and knowledge constellations, documenting networks, power relations, and actors, in time and beyond time. Archival objects, thus, are much more than a record or representation of a past condition; they provoke a certain relationship between past, present, and future and mobilize temporal and topographic categories. Therefore it is necessary to encourage new approaches to collecting, researching, and archiving, to develop strategies that integrate marginalized realities of the past for a better understanding of contemporary complexities.

The Archiv der Avantgarden (AdA), a unique repository donated by the Berlin collector Egidio Marzona to the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD), is in the process of transformation from a private collection into a public archive. This collection encompasses around 1.5 million items combining artworks, prototypes, magazines, design objects and documentation of artistic production. As an archive it provides an index of twentieth-century aesthetic thinking and a record of the time’s sociopolitical ethics and utopian ideals, opening up questions regarding the constitution of an archive and its relation to contemporary sociopolitical developments....

How can an archive’s materialized descriptions of complex cultural milieus become a tool to unravel collaborative knowledge production? How can we render visible the relations, genealogies, and resistances of the materials and objects of an archive?
archives  methodology 
december 2018 by shannon_mattern
The U.S. Government Once Nuked a Bunch of File Cabinets - Atlas Obscura
In 1955, the Department of Defense began Operation Teapot, one of dozens of nuclear experiments that have been performed at the Nevada Test Site since the late 1940s. Operation Teapot consisted of 14 separate explosions, each of which provided the DoD with the opportunity to assess various outcomes of interest.

A test called “Wasp,” for example, was meant to show what would happen if a nuclear device detonated at low altitude. For another, called “ESS,” an 8000-pound bomb was exploded underground, to see how large of a crater it would make. (Many of the tests had quotidian names, like “Bee” and “Zucchini,” which are illustrated on an incongruously playful diploma given to participants.)...

While they were at it, they figured, they might as well nuke some file cabinets, too. For Project 35.5, “Effects of a Nuclear Explosion on Records and Records Storage Equipment,” the FCDA teamed up with the National Records Management Council, several companies that made safes, and a superintendent from Western Union. They filled various storage vessels with various types of media, scattered them at various distances from Apple-2’s Ground Zero, and waited to see what would happen when the bomb dropped.

The project’s official report—which was first released in June of 1958, and was uploaded by nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein on his blog, Restricted Data, in 2011—explains the rationale. “Business records are the memory of an organization,” it reads. “Preservation of important business records in a disaster can help ensure survival of managerial direction and continuity of enterprise."...

The report also lays out the process, which was quite thorough. The guinea pigs included “a complete variety of records storage equipment,” such as file cabinets, steel shelving, corrugated cardboard boxes, and different classes of safe. Inside were materials ranging from photographic film to paper letters to telegraph tape. These were then put in assigned locations, some inside or next to structures, and some completely exposed. For one subtest, the group put samples of four different types of paper—“new rag, old rag, soda sulfite, and purified sulfite”—in various Survival Town basements and garages....

Money chests fared far better. One, originally placed just a fifth of a mile from Ground Zero, was found about 350 feet from its original location, burned and with a broken lock. It had done its job, the report says: “The contents, which were in excellent condition, included a gold watch case, paper, United States postage stamps, loose microfilm, and microfilm in a sealed can.”
archives  storage  intellectual_furnishings  nuclear  destruction 
december 2018 by shannon_mattern
How Cheap Labor Drives China’s A.I. Ambitions
Some of the most critical work in advancing China’s technology goals takes place in a former cement factory in the middle of the country’s heartland, far from the aspiring Silicon Valleys of Beijing and Shenzhen. An idled concrete mixer still stands in the middle of the courtyard. Boxes of melamine dinnerware are stacked in a warehouse next door.

Inside, Hou Xiameng runs a company that helps artificial intelligence make sense of the world. Two dozen young people go through photos and videos, labeling just about everything they see. That’s a car. That’s a traffic light. That’s bread, that’s milk, that’s chocolate. That’s what it looks like when a person walks.

“I used to think the machines are geniuses,” Ms. Hou, 24, said. “Now I know we’re the reason for their genius.”

In China, long the world’s factory floor, a new generation of low-wage workers is assembling the foundations of the future. Start-ups in smaller, cheaper cities have sprung up to apply labels to China’s huge trove of images and surveillance footage. If China is the Saudi Arabia of data, as one expert says, these businesses are the refineries, turning raw data into the fuel that can power China’s A.I. ambitions.

Conventional wisdom says that China and the United States are competing for A.I. supremacy and that China has certain advantages. The Chinese government broadly supports A.I. companies, financially and politically. Chinese start-ups made up one third of the global computer vision market in 2017, surpassing the United States. Chinese academic papers are cited more often in research papers. In a key policy announcement last year, the China government said that it expected the country to become the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030.

Most importantly, this thinking goes, the Chinese government and companies enjoy access to mountains of data, thanks to weak privacy laws and enforcement. Beyond what Facebook, Google and Amazon have amassed, Chinese internet companies can get more because people there so heavily use their mobile phones to shop, pay for meals and buy movie tickets.
artificial_intelligence  labor  digital_labor  china  images  classification  archives  automation 
november 2018 by shannon_mattern
KULA : Endangered Knowledge
Guest editors Samantha MacFarlane, Rachel Mattson, and Bethany Nowviskie have assembled a collection of scholarly articles, pedagogical reflections, and project reports that take up theoretical and practical considerations of archival salvage and erasure, the persistence of the public record, indigenous knowledge, and the politics of loss. The special issue explores endangerment as a critical category of analysis for records, data, collections, languages, ecosystems, and networks.
archives  indigenous  records  preservation 
november 2018 by shannon_mattern
In the Age of A.I., Is Seeing Still Believing? | The New Yorker
The acceleration of home computing has converged with another trend: the mass uploading of photographs and videos to the Web. Later, when I sat down with Efros in his office, he explained that, even in the early two-thousands, computer graphics had been “data-starved”: although 3-D modellers were capable of creating photorealistic scenes, their cities, interiors, and mountainscapes felt empty and lifeless. True realism, Efros said, requires “data, data, data” about “the gunk, the dirt, the complexity of the world,” which is best gathered by accident, through the recording of ordinary life.

Today, researchers have access to systems like ImageNet, a site run by computer scientists at Stanford and Princeton which brings together fourteen million photographs of ordinary places and objects, most of them casual snapshots posted to Flickr, eBay, and other Web sites. Initially, these images were sorted into categories (carrousels, subwoofers, paper clips, parking meters, chests of drawers) by tens of thousands of workers hired through Amazon Mechanical Turk. Then, in 2012, researchers at the University of Toronto succeeded in building neural networks capable of categorizing ImageNet’s images automatically; their dramatic success helped set off today’s neural-networking boom. In recent years, YouTube has become an unofficial ImageNet for video. ...

In the early days of photography, its practitioners had to argue for its objectivity. In courtrooms, experts debated whether photos were reflections of reality or artistic products; legal scholars wondered whether photographs needed to be corroborated by witnesses. It took decades for a consensus to emerge about what made a photograph trustworthy. Some technologists wonder if that consensus could be reëstablished on different terms. Perhaps, using modern tools, photography might be rebooted.

Truepic, a startup in San Diego, aims at producing a new kind of photograph—a verifiable digital original. Photographs taken with its smartphone app are uploaded to its servers, where they enter a kind of cryptographic lockbox. “We make sure the image hasn’t been manipulated in transit,” Jeffrey McGregor, the company’s C.E.O., explained. “We look at geolocation data, at the nearby cell towers, at the barometric-pressure sensor on the phone, and verify that everything matches. We run the photo through a bunch of computer-vision tests.” If the image passes muster, it’s entered into the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchain. From then on, it can be shared on a special Web page that verifies its authenticity. Today, Truepic’s biggest clients are insurance companies, which allow policyholders to take verified photographs of their flooded basements or broken windshields. The software has also been used by N.G.O.s to document human-rights violations, and by workers at a construction company in Kazakhstan, who take “verified selfies” as a means of clocking in and out. “Our goal is to expand into industries where there’s a ‘trust gap,’ ” McGregor said: property rentals, online dating. Eventually, he hopes to integrate his software into camera components, so that “verification can begin the moment photons enter the lens.”
photography  images  epistemology  truth  deep_fakes  documentary  video  archives  classification 
november 2018 by shannon_mattern
Franklin Furnace’s Pioneering Performances Are Now Archived Online
Archives are big business these days. Selling large accumulations of cultural artifacts and ephemera has helped many an individual or organization with an acquisitive nature to pay some bills. But even more than selling, the business is in the acquiring. Those who buy up others’ archives are counting on significant paydays, most often by charging for access and to make use of the archives, typically through outsize licensing fees. This makes it all the more surprising just how open Franklin Furnace has consistently been with their archive, as demonstrated most recently by the institute’s new book and online collection, Franklin Furnace: Performance & Politics, co-curated by Martha Wilson and Oraison H. Larmon.

Not only is the book, which covers 40–plus works from across Franklin Furnace’s history, available for free to everyone online, it’s also possible to view documents and videos from each of the works contained within. Ranging from photos and short films created by Martha Wilson in the years just prior to her founding of Franklin Furnace in 1976, to materials from early artist book exhibitions (the original collecting focus of Franklin Furnace), to performance works as recent as 2014, the collection gives a taste of the enormous array of artworks that the organization has supported, presented, and/or collected over the decades...

Few museums have significant performance collections to begin with, and even when a museum does have performance works, obtaining the rights required to publicly share documentation of live performance can prove a Sisyphean task, as it typically requires contacting any artists who contributed to the work, as well as the original authors of the works, or their estates. For contemporary work it’s much easier to at least identify all the pieces of the puzzle, as artists are much more savvy today about rights and documentation, but for artists making one-off performances two or three decades ago, things can get complicated quickly. And if fees enter the equation, absurdly high profit expectations can stand in the way of individuals and small organizations ever having a hope of sharing the work with the public....

Apart from the individual documents and videos themselves, Wilson’s choice to make so much of the archive accessible reads as a political gesture at a time when ever more of our public culture has been enclosed by those wishing to profit off of it, whether it be Facebook and Instagram capitalizing on the emotive and social content that so many of us post on their platforms, or the photographic record of our culture being hoovered up by Getty Images. It should be noted that Wilson did make the choice in the early 1990s to sell Franklin Furnace’ artist book collection to the Museum of Modern Art. The primary reason for the sale was the relentless series of attacks by the local and federal government on Franklin Furnace in the midst of the Culture Wars of the 1980s and ’90s, which eventually resulted in the space being shut down.
archives  performance  intellectual_property  censorship 
november 2018 by shannon_mattern
“Destabilized Perception”: Infrastructural Aesthetics in the Films of Adam Curtis | Cultural Politics
The formerly dissident status of the essay film has, in recent years, been exchanged for a great deal of favorable attention both inside and outside academia. In the more overly moralistic commentary on the form, the contemporary essay film is submitted as a tactical response to a surfeit of audiovisual media, to an era in which most of us have become both consumers and producers of a digital deluge. The work of Adam Curtis is notably absent from these ongoing debates. Yet Curtis is far from an underground figure—he has been making essayistic films for the BBC for more than twenty years and was the first to produce work directly for the iPlayer platform. Using archival images to examine the present, his films produce counterintuitive connections and abrupt collisions that supplant the authority of narrative causality for a precarious network of associations and linkages. This article treats Curtis’s recent body of work diagnostically. It argues that, quite apart from any promise of escape or deliverance, the aesthetic form of his work actively inhabits the rhythms and vectors of contemporary media. For Curtis, the media-technological conditions of the twenty-first century provoke a crisis that is both political and epistemological, one in which sensemaking can no longer claim to take place at a distance from the infrastructure that mediates such processes but is instead thoroughly and inescapably immanent to it, a situation that prevents contact with the outside. His films are about what he calls “destabilized perception,” but importantly they are also a function of this condition, one that in turn demands a shift in how we conceive the essay film in the twenty-first century.
aesthetics  film  epistemology  propaganda  archive_art  archives 
november 2018 by shannon_mattern
Reverse information architecture - Urban Complexity Lab
The project started in 2014 as part of the course "Visualizing Cultural Collections", with the aim to examine the current state of existing interfaces of digital collections of museums. In digital collections, the web is intended to provide the entirety of a physical collection. Assuming that more and more museums are providing digital collections online, the project started with an initial analysis and overview. It was revealing did with the aim of making the rich and comprehensive datasets accessible, a so called explore fashion what increasingly Offered across most websites. Soon, the questions of what it meant and how it manifested in the structure of the digital collections appeared.

In the following research phase, a more concrete conceptualization of the term "exploration" has been developed (view, movement, contextualization, and participation). Furthermore, the function of exploration is manifested in the structure and interface. With this unique method, the given contents are examined to which degree and in which manner the functions of exploration are implemented in digital collections. The working base for the study were screenshots of eight well-known museum collections worldwide, Which were Analyzed with the new method we call reverse information architecture .
archives  digital_archives  serendipity  search  digital_cultural_heritage  interfaces  collections 
november 2018 by shannon_mattern
Slides for "Syrian Archive"
There is currently no tool that supports finding, collecting, preserving and collaboratively verifying and curating visual evidence from social media platforms: The Syrian Archive is the first to do so. In this talk, members of the Syrian Archive team will give an overview of the Syrian Archive project, explore the technical components and verification procedures, and review investigations completed using open source methodologies. Journalists and human rights groups need to find and use verified visual evidence in order to accurately report about what’s happening in conflict zones. We have currently developed an open source tool in alpha stage in collaboration with developers from Tactical Tech which collects and preserves video evidence from Youtube. We have additionally developed a unique workflow in order to verify video documentation and to conduct our investigations. By aggregating, preserving, cataloging and securing digital documentation relating to human rights violations in Syria, the Syrian Archive project helps Syrian civil society, human rights activists, media offices, journalists and lawyers increase their capacity to respond to human rights violations thorough using documentation and investigations that adhere to international standards, and using better tools to demand accountability against perpetrators of those violations. Findings from investigations have been used by Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Security Council and the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons in their work investigating the Syrian conflict. Further, research has been cross-published by Bellingcat, an award-winning open source investigation platform and partner to the project.
syrian_archive  archives  conflict  community_archives 
november 2018 by shannon_mattern
Suzy the Shelf Elf, Maker of Spreadsheets on Twitter: "So who here wants to see my magical archives box-matching spreadsheet? Basically you plug in the dimensions of the thing you need to box, and it suggests item #’s of matching products from various v
So who here wants to see my magical archives box-matching spreadsheet? Basically you plug in the dimensions of the thing you need to box, and it suggests item #’s of matching products from various vendors. You can adjust how loose you want the box to fit also!
archives  boxes  containers  shelves 
november 2018 by shannon_mattern
Art historians have traditionally used physical light boxes to prepare exhibits or curate collections. On a light box, they can place slides or printed images, move the images around at will, group them as desired, and visually compare them. The transition to digital images has rendered this workflow obsolete. Now, art historians lack well-designed, unified interactive software tools that effectively support the operations they perform with physical light boxes.

To address this problem, we designed ARIES - ARt Image Exploration Space, an interactive image manipulation system that enables the exploration and organization of fine digital art. The system allows images to be compared in multiple ways, offering dynamic overlays analogous to a physical light box, and supporting advanced image comparisons and feature-matching functions, available through computational image processing.
archives  image_collections  images  warburg 
november 2018 by shannon_mattern
This Library Has New Books by Major Authors, but They Can’t Be Read Until 2114 - The New York Times
In a small clearing in the forests of Nordmarka, one hour outside the city limits of Oslo, a thousand spruce trees are growing. They will grow for the next 96 years, until 2114, when they will be felled, pulped, pressed and dyed to serve as the paper supply for the Scottish artist Katie Paterson’s Future Library: an anthology of 100 previously unpublished books written by some of the 21st century’s most celebrated writers. There will be one book for every year the trees will have grown, each a donation from a writer chosen by the Future Library’s board of trustees — a gift from the literary gatekeepers of the present to the readers of the future....

She describes writing a novel for the Future Library as “a secular act of faith” in a world that seems to have gone mad, a world that violently accentuates the differences between people instead of celebrating their common humanity. “When you write a book,” she says, “you have the faith that it will reach out to someone else, to someone who is different from you and it will connect us. That you will be able to transcend the boundaries of the self, that was given to you at birth, that you will be able to touch someone else’s reality.” Yet in 96 years, when the seedlings become trees and the trees are sacrificed to the written word, it is impossible to know whose reality they will touch....

Increasingly, it seems, there is something unbearably precious about writing novels that cannot be read — an act of delayed gratification that can have no real payoff because it has no real stakes, only symbolic ones. And there is something more straightforwardly unbearable about planting trees knowing that, in a time of mass deforestation and consumer waste, they will be cut down to make paper.

Yet the Future Library begins to look less twee, less inattentive, when one considers the bonfire that consumed 40,000 books in Alexandria in 48 B.C. or, this summer, the stray paper lantern that set the Museu Nacional of Brasil on fire, destroying manuscripts and artifacts collected over two hundred years. It was shocking to remember, in an age of hard drives and big data, how quickly the matter of memories could disappear. The Future Library makes the physicality of culture palpable by insisting that we confront the long, laborious process of preserving language. It refuses to take it for granted. And it reminds us that we have not always been attentive to how literature is made, distributed, preserved and celebrated....

The manuscripts are electrified by these taboos. In 2020, they will be moved to the New Deichmanske Library, currently under construction in Oslo, where they will be displayed in a “Silent Room”: a womb-shaped chamber facing the forest, lined with wood from its trees. Visitors will be able to enter, one or two at a time, to gaze at the manuscripts lying under their protective glass cases, waiting for the years to pass. More like a prayer closet than a reading room, Paterson describes the Silent Room as a “contemplative space.” Her hope is that it will prompt the visitor’s imagination to journey through “deep time” to probe the mysteries of the forest....

The correspondence they stage between writer and reader is not the immediacy of address Shafak attributes to a book as it circulates in the world but the projection of a literary kinship so deep, so transcendent, that it is worth waiting for — worth dying without....

But the ark does not preserve those who are most in need of preservation. It is firmly committed to those authors who have already proven themselves the fittest, at least according to the tastes of the current literary marketplace....

THE OPTIMISM OF ART feeds off the pessimism of ecocide — this is the dialectic that sits at the heart of projects like the Future Library and their banks of sacred objects. ...

If the ark is one metaphor that writers have invoked to describe projects like the seed bank and the Future Library, the other is the time capsule — quixotic, hopeful, in search of a connection with another time and place. Not far from the seed bank is the stainless-steel box buried last year in Hornsund, Svalbard by permafrost researchers from the Polish Academy of Sciences.
libraries  writing  deep_time  reading  library_art  archives  preservation 
november 2018 by shannon_mattern
How Archivists Could Stop Deepfakes From Rewriting History
While many have feared the potential of deepfakes to spread misinformation in the here and now, these videos could distort reality long after today’s fake news goes viral if they’re improperly archived as legitimate. Gizmodo spoke with several historians, archivists, and professors who were familiar with the deepfakes phenomenon, some of whom had pragmatic concerns about it. Fortunately, archivists have rigidly established principles meant to catch forgeries and screw-ups, but these protections are only as strong as the institutions that provide them....

“It’s something archives have dealt with for centuries,” Yvonne Ng, a senior archivist at WITNESS, a nonprofit that focuses on collecting video evidence of human rights abuses, told Gizmodo. “The deepfake is a new spin on this process, but archives have always had to deal with forgeries or fakes or plagiarism—and even unintended damage and deterioration—and then having to determine the authenticity of objects with all of those considerations in mind.”

Archivists have been concerned with provenance, or the origin and chain of custody of information, well before the emergence of deepfakes and digital manipulation tools. Ng said that a good historical analogy to deepfakes for archivists would be portrait paintings, noting that these were often painted long after their subjects had died. She said that you can still document such a painting in your archivist collection, but there would be different things to examine to determine just how truthful the work is. She said you could look at the clothes and buildings in the painting in order to see if they are representative of the period of time when the subject was alive, as well as who the painter was, and if they were alive at the same time as the subject. At a physical level, an archivist might look at the format of the painting, what type of paint and materials were used, and if those could be dated, Ng said.
archives  digital_archives  deep_fakes 
october 2018 by shannon_mattern
Kameelah Janan Rasheed on research and archiving – The Creative Independent
Right now it’s a process of scanning everything, getting it to the dimensions that they need to be, and thinking about dissemination and accessibility. My main goal is to ensure that the materials are accessible for people who want to look at them. If people do want to look at them closely, being able to not only have people come to my house and look, but also being able to set up pop-ups and mobile archival spaces for people to look through things. I also want to talk to people about how they can archive the stuff they have in their house.

I think there’s a certain type of professionalism around archiving. It’s important, but it also invalidates the ways that people have been archiving for quite a long time. Institutions have taken it on as the thing that gives them the power. But people, particularly black families, have been keeping photographs in plastic bags for centuries and decades and have been putting photographs in boxes under beds.

There are all these different ways people have been known to document and create archives themselves. I want to validate that and say, “Here are some other ways to do this as well. Here’s how you make sure that you own your archives and don’t necessarily give it away to an institution who may restrict access to people later.”
archives  digitization  professional_practice  blackness 
october 2018 by shannon_mattern
Krista Jamieson on Twitter: "The Basics of Digital Archiving: A Thread. There will be many analogies to physical archives. It will not mention technologies/software at all. The tech details will be simplified (for your reading pleasure and based on my own
The Basics of Digital Archiving: A Thread. There will be many analogies to physical archives. It will not mention technologies/software at all. The tech details will be simplified (for your reading pleasure and based on my own knowledge).
archives  digital_archives  professional_practice  preservation  access 
october 2018 by shannon_mattern
SOCIALITY - ABOUT - Human Sociality is being Engineered and Patented
The conceptual artwork Sociality is composed of over twenty thousands patents for online platforms, interfaces, algorithms, and devices. The artist Paolo Cirio investigated public repositories of patents to document technologies that conceal the social control, manipulation, and surveillance at play on the Internet.
patents  archives  technology  control  surveillance  machine_reading 
october 2018 by shannon_mattern
Dayanita Singh: File Museum
Ever since she left photojournalism behind, Dayanita Singh has wandered India, digging under the stereotype of a bustling, teeming nation to catalog absence. Few humans intrude into her luminous sodium nightscapes or deserted industrial sites, but in her new photographic installation File Museum, on view at Frith Street Gallery, London, until January 26, the sense of emptiness is more acute than ever. Archives are her subject. Not the digital-data sort growing in India’s gleaming technological hubs, but the crumbling, cavernous kind—windowless subterranean interiors crammed full of old paper.

Most of the 140 photographs on display show similar scenes: functional but rusty shelving units channel our vision to the point where darkness subsumes them, or where more shelves block our gaze. Files, sacks, trunks, and boxes contest for space. Cupboard doors are forced open by their contents. Shelves lean like dominoes under their loads. Empty chairs (the subject of an earlier series of Singh’s) come under siege from the piles surrounding them. Small patches of wall are only occasionally visible. At times, the floor is taken over with paper towers.
filing  archives  archive_art  India  photography 
september 2018 by shannon_mattern
We Already Are – Sustainable Futures – Medium
We must refuse the rules of inclusion, and vocabularies of recognition and legitimacy that are meant to contain our histories. We should not echo articulations that we do not already exist in the archive. We are not marginal or other to the archive, but integral to it. We may be silenced or made invisible, but we have always been present.

Rather than set out to find or discover what has been lost, or made illegible to forms of whiteness, let us begin with the understanding that we have always been here — becoming.

That what, to some, are unofficial or oppositional archives hold the contour of our lived realities, our struggles to exist in landscapes only made possible by our premature death....

We should do our best to benefit and learn from the accumulated wisdom of the existing profession, but also refuse attempts at incorporation which will only further alienate our communities from themselves.
community_archives  archives 
september 2018 by shannon_mattern
Traces of a Revolution: In Search of the Palestinian Film Archive: Ingenta Connect
This paper analyzes two documentaries that examine the legacy of the Palestinian Film Unit: Azza El-Hassan’s Kings and Extras: Digging for a Palestinian Image (2004) and Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory by MohanadYaqubi (2015). Relying on recently found footage as well as interviews and personal accounts, the documentaries recount the importance of the collective’s archive and the impact it had on creating the image of the revolutionary Palestinian. I argue that rather than dwelling on the loss of a Palestinian image, the filmmakers move beyond the impulse to physically locate the archive, providing sites of regeneration that allow alternative narratives to emerge instead. Through the filmmakers’ dialectic disruption of their own attempt to restore the archive, both films pose highly complex questions about the meaning ofthe photographic image and its potential in effecting social or political change.
archives  films  palestine 
september 2018 by shannon_mattern
Archivists Against History Repeating Itself
Archives should be tools for liberation. We are a group of archivists and archival studies scholars who are tired of seeing the same oppressive ideologies, structures, and tactics play out in both the historic records we steward and in the newspaper headlines we read every day. We are trying to move beyond the disjuncture between the frantic pace of inundating crisis and the long game of archival slow-time. We want to use archival records to learn past strategies and get inspiration to enact the structural change we need now.


We are exhausted by the use of professionalism as an excuse for political inaction. We are committed to interrupting cycles of oppression because of and not despite our professional ethical commitments and identities. We believe we can use archives, archival labor, and archival theory for human liberation.
archives  activism 
september 2018 by shannon_mattern
Why the Future of Data Storage is (Still) Magnetic Tape - IEEE Spectrum
It should come as no surprise that recent advances in big-data analytics and artificial intelligence have created strong incentives for enterprises to amass information about every measurable aspect of their businesses. And financial regulations now require organizations to keep records for much longer periods than they had to in the past. So companies and institutions of all stripes are holding onto more and more.

Studies show [PDF] that the amount of data being recorded is increasing at 30 to 40 percent per year. At the same time, the capacity of modern hard drives, which are used to store most of this, is increasing at less than half that rate. Fortunately, much of this information doesn’t need to be accessed instantly. And for such things, magnetic tape is the perfect solution.

Seriously? Tape? The very idea may evoke images of reels rotating fitfully next to a bulky mainframe in an old movie like Desk Set or Dr. Strangelove. So, a quick reality check: Tape has never gone away!

Indeed, much of the world’s data is still kept on tape, including data for basic science, such as particle physics and radio astronomy, human heritage and national archives, major motion pictures, banking, insurance, oil exploration, and more. There is even a cadre of people (including me, trained in materials science, engineering, or physics) whose job it is to keep improving tape storage....

The first commercial digital-tape storage system, IBM’s Model 726, could store about 1.1 megabytes on one reel of tape. Today, a modern tape cartridge can hold 15 terabytes. And a single robotic tape library can contain up to 278 petabytes of data. Storing that much data on compact discs would require more than 397 million of them, which if stacked would form a tower more than 476 kilometers high.

It’s true that tape doesn’t offer the fast access speeds of hard disks or semiconductor memories. Still, the medium’s advantages are many. To begin with, tape storage is more energy efficient: Once all the data has been recorded, a tape cartridge simply sits quietly in a slot in a robotic library and doesn’t consume any power at all. Tape is also exceedingly reliable, with error rates that are four to five orders of magnitude lower than those of hard drives. And tape is very secure, with built-in, on-the-fly encryption and additional security provided by the nature of the medium itself. ...

The offline nature of tape also provides an additional line of defense against buggy software. For example, in 2011, a flaw in a software update caused Google to accidentally delete the saved email messages in about 40,000 Gmail accounts. That loss occurred despite there being several copies of the data stored on hard drives across multiple data centers. Fortunately, the data was also recorded on tape, and Google could eventually restore all the lost data from that backup.

The 2011 Gmail incident was one of the first disclosures that a cloud-service provider was using tape for its operations. More recently, Microsoft let it be known that its Azure Archive Storage uses IBM tape storage equipment....

All these pluses notwithstanding, the main reason why companies use tape is usually simple economics. Tape storage costs one-sixth the amount you’d have to pay to keep the same amount of data on disks, which is why you find tape systems almost anyplace where massive amounts of data are being stored. But because tape has now disappeared completely from consumer-level products, most people are unaware of its existence, let alone of the tremendous advances that tape recording technology has made in recent years and will continue to make for the foreseeable future....

To understand why tape still has so much potential relative to hard drives, consider the way tape and hard drives evolved.

Both rely on the same basic physical mechanisms to store digital data. They do so in the form of narrow tracks in a thin film of magnetic material in which the magnetism switches between two states of polarity. The information is encoded as a series of bits, represented by the presence or absence of a magnetic-polarity transition at specific points along a track. Since the introduction of tape and hard drives in the 1950s, the manufacturers of both have been driven by the mantra “denser, faster, cheaper.” As a result, the cost of both, in terms of dollars per gigabyte of capacity, has fallen by many orders of magnitude....

Over the past few years, the areal density scaling of data on hard disks has slowed from its historical average of around 40 percent a year to between 10 and 15 percent. The reason has to do with some fundamental physics: To record more data in a given area, you need to allot a smaller region to each bit. That in turn reduces the signal you can get when you read it. And if you reduce the signal too much, it gets lost in the noise that arises from the granular nature of the magnetic grains coating the disk.

It’s possible to reduce that background noise by making those grains smaller. But it’s difficult to shrink the magnetic grains beyond a certain size without compromising their ability to maintain a magnetic state in a stable way. The smallest size that’s practical to use for magnetic recording is known in this business as the superparamagnetic limit. And disk manufacturers have reached it....

There are a few technologies under development that could enable hard-drive scaling beyond today’s superparamagnetic limit. These include heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) and microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR), techniques that enable the use of smaller grains and hence allow smaller regions of the disk to be magnetized.
archives  storage  tape  preservation 
september 2018 by shannon_mattern
About – Noncitizen
Noncitizen Archive is a non-profit digital archive for images from migrant experiences. It is an

independent platform for secure digital storage of personal footage. Videos, audio and photos

captured by migrants and people living in ‘noncitizenship’ are important documents of our time,

but often get lost. Footage is deleted and mobile phones go missing. Noncitizen Archive wants to

save this material for the future.

Who is Noncitizen Archive for?

Noncitizen Archive stores footage belonging to migrants, filmmakers, asylum seekers and

stateless persons. The photographer/filmmaker always owns the copyright of the images. With 

the creators’ consent, footage can also be made available to the public on the Noncitizen Archive

archives  migration  community_archives 
august 2018 by shannon_mattern
Seismic Shifts: On Archival Fact and Fictions – Sustainable Futures – Medium
That truth begins, in earnest, with the rejection of two words we in archives have come to know, love, and abuse: ‘local’ and ‘community-based.’ I maintain that these terms offer diminishing analytic (and consequently, actionable) value because they constitute the most common of empirical fictions. So compelling are these fictions that they pushed me, in part, to pursue anthropology as a discipline due to its apparent emphasis on examination of ‘local’ and ‘community-based’ phenomena.

How distressing it was, then, to encounter in a foundational seminar the work of anthropologist James Ferguson, who in this essay deconstructs the dichotomies of local/global and community/state [1]. For Ferguson, these binaries persist because they enable us to think of power and dominion vertically: the local is necessarily ‘down on the ground’ and the global ‘up in the air,’ while the community is likewise a ‘foundation’ and the state a ‘ceiling.’ This view carries damning effects. It further masks and thus entrenches power, rather than revealing and redistributing it. Moreover, it obscures the flows and exchanges between the proximate and approximate, a point underscored more poignantly by the anthropologist Anna Tsing in her article “The Global Situation” [2].
archives  community_archives  local  global  scale 
august 2018 by shannon_mattern
Schedule – Critical Digital Archives
In this interdisciplinary graduate seminar we will explore theoretical and practical issues related to the creation, access, and discovery of archives and special collections, including acquisition, description and technical specifications, community building, and post-custodial models. With emphasis on critical archival theory and state-of-the-art digital humanities approaches, this course draws from literary & cultural studies, information studies, critical indigenous studies, history, art history, and anthropology as we build a rigorous theoretical framework and engage in hands-on practice. This course will pair humanistic approaches to the (de)colonial archive with practice and theory from information science and the digital humanities.

The first unit focuses on colonial archives and special collections, using the Benson Latin American Collection as a case study. This unit surveys the field of critical archival studies from literary studies, history, and information studies. The final assignment asks students to consider the ethical obligations of special collections with colonial holdings by proposing a response to the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, recently endorsed by the Society of American Archivists.

The second unit focuses on human rights and social justice archives, using the Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional of Guatemala as a case study. This unit explores the ethical complications of working with sensitive collections, as well as the practical application of these theories to digital archvies with a human rights component. As a final assignment, students are asked to propose a humanities media project that will create supplemental materials to the AHPN website that address some of the ethical concerns addressed in the unit.

The third unit focuses on indigenous and community archives. This unit explores archival structures and activities that exist outside of or beyond academic or state institutions. The final assignment, which will be designed collectively by students, asks students to propose and enact a community-centered action responding to needs, problems, or opportunities posed by a collection or archive of their choice.
archives  indigenous  preservation  syllabus 
august 2018 by shannon_mattern
More Web Archives, Less Process | The Signal
In keeping with the use of Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) for Library of Congress web archives descriptive records, ABA created a slimmed MODS schema for use in the minimal-record approach. The schema includes all fields necessary to describe the unique web archives at a basic level from data available in Digiboard, WAT’s homegrown curatorial tool. Library staff use Digiboard for a number of web archiving management tasks, from nomination of sites for future capture to quality review of captured content. It does not, however, have a full cataloging and description component. Rather, the curatorial data held in Digiboard is utilized for description in the minimal-record approach.

The minimal-record MODS fields include:

an identifier assigned by Digiboard upon nomination for inclusion in the web archives,
a descriptive title,
the archived URLs,
collection title(s),
curatorial department(s),
content language(s),
country of publication,
rights restrictions,
thumbnail preview images of the archived URLs, if available,
and a summary, if available.
archives  digitization  processing  mplp 
august 2018 by shannon_mattern
Space For Learning: Within and Beyond Walls - YouTube
Architect and historian Mabel O. Wilson joins New Museum artists-in-residence the Black School and Kameelah Janan Rasheed for a panel discussion considering the role of visual culture, art, and architecture in the creation of spaces centering black teachers, learners, and knowledge within conditions of systemic and institutionalized racism.

Throughout US history, from slavery to Jim Crow segregation to present-day inequities and marginalization, people of color have created space for learning through diverse strategies that encompass mobile, temporary, domestic, and built forms. What might present and future spaces for education gain from engaging these often-suppressed histories?

For the New Museum’s annual summer art and social justice residency and exhibition, artists and educators the Black School and Kameelah Janan Rasheed reimagine learning spaces in the Fifth Floor Gallery and Resource Room, respectively, as well as the use of these environments for workshops and classes. They discuss their choices for these spaces and their approaches to teaching and learning, as well as the histories of black education in the US. Mabel O. Wilson will draw from her transdisciplinary design practice and historical research, which investigates space, politics, and cultural memory in black America and respond to the exhibition and residency.
pedagogy  blackness  learning  access  archives  museums  canon 
august 2018 by shannon_mattern
After the Gold Rush | by Deborah Eisenberg | The New York Review of Books
It’s estimated that all copies of about 75 percent of silent films have perished, taking with them heaven knows how much memory of an era. In 1978 a significant portion of that memory was recovered by chance when a Pentecostal minister with a backhoe unearthed the last known remnants of 372 silent films from the 1910s and 1920s, as he was excavating a lot behind Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, a gambling hall in the Yukon’s Dawson City. Just how those films came to turn up there is the question that initiates Bill Morrison’s astounding Dawson City: Frozen Time.

Dawson City: Frozen Time is nominally a documentary—it is a documentary—but describing it as a documentary is something like describing Ulysses as a travel guide to Dublin. The film is transfixing, an utterly singular compound of the bizarre, the richly informative, the thrilling, the horrifying, the goofy, the tragic, and the flat-out gorgeous.

The structure of the film is confoundingly complex; its content spans vast, looping, and twisting territory, and yet watching it one soars along, as if skiing on a Möbius strip. It fits into no category I can think of, and is remarkable for, among other things, its plenitude of objectives and the sheer strangeness of its effect. When it ends, one feels that one has awakened from vivid and transporting dreams, activated, aloft, sharpened—one’s mind enlarged and freer.
urban_history  media_archaeology  archives  archive_art  preservation 
august 2018 by shannon_mattern
Denver Archives on Twitter: "Our holdings span from about the 1850s to the early 2000s and we’ve run across just about every way there is to fasten documents together. Pictured below is a sampling of fasteners found in the records we hold. #Archives…
Our holdings span from about the 1850s to the early 2000s and we’ve run across just about every way there is to fasten documents together. Pictured below is a sampling of fasteners found in the records we hold.
archives  fasteners  attachment  paperclips 
july 2018 by shannon_mattern
Classification (IEKO)
This article is about classification as a basic term in an interdisciplinary perspective. Classification is a fundamental concept and activity in knowledge organization, but it is also an important concept in many other fields, including biology and philosophy. In knowledge organization and library and information science (LIS), it is mostly about classifying documents, document representations, and concepts (e.g., in thesauri), and library classification systems and ontologies are well-known kinds of knowledge organization systems (KOS). These activities and systems are based on more fundamental conceptions and theories of classifications that are presented in this article.
classification  archives  epistemology  organization 
july 2018 by shannon_mattern
Archive Dreaming on Vimeo
Commissioned to work with SALT Research collections, artist Refik Anadol employed machine learning algorithms to search and sort relations among 1,700,000 documents. Interactions of the multidimensional data found in the archives are, in turn, translated into an immersive media installation. Archive Dreaming, which is presented as part of The Uses of Art: Final Exhibition with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union, is user-driven; however, when idle, the installation "dreams" of unexpected correlations among documents. The resulting high-dimensional data and interactions are translated into an architectural immersive space.

Shortly after receiving the commission, Anadol was a resident artist for Google's Artists and Machine Intelligence Program where he closely collaborated with Mike Tyka and explored cutting-edge developments in the field of machine intelligence in an environment that brings together artists and engineers. Developed during this residency, his intervention Archive Dreaming transforms the gallery space on floor -1 at SALT Galata into an all-encompassing environment that intertwines history with the contemporary, and challenges immutable concepts of the archive, while destabilizing archive-related questions with machine learning algorithms.

In this project, a temporary immersive architectural space is created as a canvas with light and data applied as materials. This radical effort to deconstruct the framework of an illusory space will transgress the normal boundaries of the viewing experience of a library and the conventional flat cinema projection screen, into a three dimensional kinetic and architectonic space of an archive visualized with machine learning algorithms. By training a neural network with images of 1,700,000 documents at SALT Research the main idea is to create an immersive installation with architectural intelligence to reframe memory, history and culture in museum perception for 21st century through the lens of machine intelligence.
archives  digital_archives  digital_art  installation  classification  machine_learning  artificial_intelligence 
july 2018 by shannon_mattern
Digital Dust – Jay Owens – Medium
Dust would seem to be the most material of things, sometimes the most ultimately material: it’s what is left of an object when all form, structure, context and legibility are stripped away — when the object is destroyed, and only the fact of its materiality remains.

Dust would seem, therefore, to be the antithesis of the digital, the opposite of its binary 0s and 1s. Digital means data, virtual and immaterial; it’s black and white, crisply demarcated, perfectly defined. Dust is grey, and deeply, existentially fuzzy.

So obviously I’m going to argue that the digital is dusty as hell.

This argument has three parts: first, the desire for the digital to become dust in the form of sensor devices shrinking to a tiny, dusty scale. ...

Second, the problem of the digital gathering dust, and aging and disintegrating over time....

The biggest challenge is that communication is expensive: transmitting one bit of information to the outside world ‘costs’ the same amount of energy as 100,000 CPU operations, says Prabal Dutta, a researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Keeping a smart dust mote constantly ‘awake’, monitoring and transmitting, requires a larger solar cell and so it isn’t very micro; a smart dust mote that only wakes up and samples occasionally, however, thereby isn’t very smart....

“I think the long-term prospects for neural dust are not only within nerves and the brain, but much broader,“ said Michel Maharbiz. “Having access to in-body telemetry has never been possible because there has been no way to put something supertiny superdeep. But now I can take a speck of nothing and park it next to a nerve or organ, your GI tract or a muscle, and read out the data.“....

Every digital storage medium decays. Solid-state drives & flash memory see electrical charges leak away due to imperfect insulation. Hard drives & floppy disks are magnetic media, and thereby decay as bits lose their magnetic orientation. ...

In the last twenty years, a new discourse of infinite remembering has grown in seeming opposition to the death drive: Big Data. An ideology in which the sheer size of the dataset itself is seen as determining the value and potential insight....

Your training dataset is gap-riddled and inherently biased. It’s lossy. Unsupervised learning methods exist too — deep belief nets, generative adversarial networks — which can find patterns or structure in unlabelled data. But the patterns they find are low-dimensional, and also rather challengingly unverifiable, given the primary data is unlabelled. That is, it’s still messy.

The outputs of machine learning algorithms often acknowledge this in some ways, because they are probabilistic. They cannot specify their blind spots, they don’t know what they don’t know — but they do give confidence estimates for their ability to classify each piece of content (with lower confidence in less familiar items), and express these classifications in probability terms (this meme is 70% likely to contain a cat, 15% a doge).

That is, the outputs of this digital analysis might be described as grey-scale.

That’s before we consider the ways in which forgetting is a cutting edge area of machine learning research. Natalie Fratto outlines three: Long-Term Short-Term Memory networks, Elastic Weight Compresssion, and Bottleneck Theory.
dust  digital  materiality  waste  archives  storage  decay  forgetting 
june 2018 by shannon_mattern
We imagine indigenous cultures as the epitome of caring and sharing. In scholarly and popular representations of Indigenous Australians, resources are freely shared within kin groups. Land is a cosmological actor and cannot be owned. Besides, survival in harsh environments requires complete cooperation. But traditionally in Indigenous Australian cultures, knowledge is anything but open (Keen 1994). Controlling the circulation of knowledge is the basis of traditional authority (perhaps all human societies are ‘knowledge economies’).

In postcolonial societies, the control of knowledge held by indigenous communities and produced from indigenous resources (including indigenous bodies and body parts) has become ‘political’ as well as ‘cultural’. Indigenous communities fight to maintain control over lands and peoples, and Western research is often in the firing line. Aware of the history of racial science and more recent scandals (Anderson 2002; Reardon 2005), indigenous people may be wary of participating in research (Smith 2012). Calls to global knowledge and the greater good that motivate ‘altruistic’ participation in the general community ring false to those who feel that scientific progress is made not for their benefit, but at their expense....

Everywhere we are struggling with when to share and when to withhold. Perhaps the critical point is not whether something is open or closed, but who has the control to make this decision. The world of open access proliferates the decisions that need to be made....

Yet when a journal is able to reach a readership no longer defined exclusively by members of a discipline (if this is ever the case), and anticipates that wider market of readers/consumers, does that not change the kinds of things (topics, concerns, methods) that are valued and thus supported by open-access journals and their editors, peer reviewers, etc.? Open access is not only about dissemination; it is about the expectation of an audience as a mode of scholarly production....

‘Opening’ work to collaboration with local actors (as described by Sharon above) does not necessary lead to greater equality. I think we should question the notions of the public sphere and of sharing that underlie normative understandings of open access. As any anthropologist who has read their Mauss can tell you, sharing can be a profoundly coercive practice as much as a leveling one. Sharing and collaboration restrain as much as they generate.
archives  data  open_access  openness  indigenous  anthropology 
june 2018 by shannon_mattern
reconstitute the world « Bethany Nowviskie
What kinds of indigenous knowledge do we neglect to represent—or fail to understand—in our digital libraries? What tacit and embodied understandings? What animal perspectives? What do we in fact choose, through those failures, to extinguish from history—and what does that mean at this precise cultural and technological moment? On the other hand, what sorts of records and recordable things should we let go—should we be working as hard as possible to protect from machine learning for the good of vulnerable communities and creatures—knowing, as we do, that technologies of collection and analysis are by nature tools of surveillance and structures of extractive power? And, finally—from an elegiac archive, a library of endings, can we foster new kinds of human—or at the very least, humane—agency? ...

The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a Smithsonian-based international consortium and digitization collective of botanical and natural history libraries.... “Mining Biodiversity” was the theme of a productive 2015 NEH Digging into Data grant, which coupled novel text-mining and visualization techniques with crowdsourcing and outreach. And projects like PaleoDeepDive and GeoDeepDive represent AI-assisted efforts to pull out so-called “dark data” from its bibliographic tar pits: those idiosyncratic features in scientific journal literature like tables and figures, that have not easily leant themselves to structured searching and the assembly of comparative datasets. ... Meanwhile projects like Digital Life, out of the University of Massachusetts, “aim to preserve the heritage of life on Earth through creating and sharing high-quality… 3D models of living organisms.” ... They do this through photogrammetry, circling living creatures with their awesomely-named BeastcamTM, and converting the resulting, overlapping 2d images to highly-accurate 3d representations. And thus the field of biodiversity informatics continues to grow and pose data curation challenges of various sorts, ranging from the preservation and analysis of 3d models to large-scale environmental data generated through remote sensing, to the collection and analysis of, for instance, audio data relating to deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest. ... The use of machine learning in monitoring contexts of various sorts is rapidly becoming the norm, and it is big business more often than community-led conservation. Microsoft has recently announced an “AI for Earth” initiative which commits $50 million dollars in grant funds over the next 5 years for “artificial intelligence projects that support clean water, agriculture, climate, and biodiversity”...

And because we no longer design these little agents to understand things—we simply filter them based on their ability to pass tests—we don’t really understand, ourselves, how they work. Mostly we just understand those tests. ...

a truly successful set of machine learning algorithms can begin to produce its own training data to advance in understanding and pass more real-world tests. This is the generation of completely imagined, fictional and truly speculative collections: manufactured botany, or book pages—leaves that never were. It’s information that the machine has dreamt up from its past encounters with real-world data...

Abelardo Gil-Fournier is applying this technology to his artistic work on predictive landscapes, presented a couple of weeks ago as a workshop in Linz, called Machine Learning: An Earthology of Moving Landforms. This is (I quote) “ongoing research on the image character and temporality of planetary surfaces.” As his collaborator Jussi Parikka puts it, “we can experiment with the correlation of an “imaged” past (the satellite time-lapses) with a machine generated “imaged” future and test how futures work; how do predicted images compare against historical datasets and time-lapses and present their own … temporal landscapes meant to run just a bit ahead of [their] time.”...

Here we have Nao Tokui’s “Imaginary Soundscapes,” a “web-based sound installation, where viewers can freely walk around Google Street View and immerse themselves in an artificial soundscape [that is based on the visual qualities of real-world spaces, but has been wholly] “imagined” by… deep learning models.”...

I’d love to see, for instance, an artistic or analytical machine learning experiment using BHL collections and Scottish flower painter Patrick Syme’s 1814 update to Werner’s Nomenclature of Colors. This book has been recently digitized and republished by the Smithsonian. It contains “the color names used by naturalists, zoologists and archaeologists through the 19th century,” and it shaped Charles Darwin’s formal chromatic vocabulary on the voyage of the Beagle. How might we use machine learning to identify references to these standardized colors in images and texts throughout Western library collections, and put them into conversation with indigenous color-names and perspectives on creatures living and lost?
libraries  archives  ecology  machine_vision  artificial_intelligence  erasure  privacy  security  climate_change  speculation  deep_fakes 
june 2018 by shannon_mattern
The Future of Our Past | Public Seminar
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was wrong. After I followed the practices of archival workers, the role of technologies, and the representation of archival materials as digital objects at the National Library of Israel, I learned that digitization of archival records does not necessarily mean “democratization of knowledge.” Indeed, digital technologies have the ability to provide access to documents that have previously been preserved only in the physical depository. But technology, I grew to understand, does not work alone. What was missing from my original premise regarding the digitization process of records was the role of human agency.

First, while machines are obviously inherent to the processing of scanning the materials, humans are the ones in charge of selecting archival records for digitization. To this end, the assumption that all materials will eventually become digital appears to be incorrect since even if an institution like the National Library would choose to scan every single document in their possession, the work would require time as well as unfathomable amounts of resources. So, they prioritize the materials. ...

Second, the scanning process, which is perceived as technical, automatic and mostly machine operated, also requires human interference. For example, how should we scan a torn picture? As two separate files, or should we combine them together?...

Third, the search interface of the digital archive can also serve as mediator of the digital archival records. By indexing documents using particular key words, exhibiting “highlights” from the collection, and presenting default modes of retrieval, the search interface may direct users to a certain narrative of the past. The design of the interface and the algorithm that enables retrieval of the search words are all eventually determined by humans....

As the process of digitization progresses, so does the realization that the new medium is rather unstable, and archivists are consistently concerned with the hazards of data loss.
archives  digitization  labor 
may 2018 by shannon_mattern
Silicon Valley Can't Be Trusted With Our History
Information ephemerality, and our lack of a model for noncorporate control of digital information, has been a blessing for governments looking to rewrite history and a curse for those trying to document the truth in environments where it is being contested every day. After Egypt’s 2011 uprising, an endless stream of propaganda from the regime and its allies has gradually rewritten history, casting the protests as a foreign-backed conspiracy, never to be repeated, or erasing them from textbooks altogether. The state’s total media dominance has made it easy to establish this narrative.

In response, activists there did something that could serve as a lesson for the rest of us. They reclaimed control of their digital memories.

In January, after years of quiet and coordinated work among hundreds of people, the filmmaking collective Mosireen launched an online archive containing as much amateur footage as they could find documenting the Egyptian uprising and the years that followed. Named 858, after the number of hours of indexed, time-stamped footage posted on the day the archive went public, it represents a new model for preserving our information ownership — and our collective memory — in a time when corporations cannot be trusted to do it for us....

“The very act of constructing an archive is a form of power,” Cairo-based writer Amir-Hussein Radjy noted in a January article about 858, nodding to Jacques Derrida’s 1995 book, Archive Fever. In it, Derrida argued that “effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and the access to the archive.” In Egypt, Radjy wrote, the state-run National Archive “receives no state papers from the presidency, or the powerful ministries of defense, interior, and foreign affairs. The army keeps a separate archive altogether.” The public is excluded from its own history.

There is no artifice to 858, no tech-utopian snake oil about solving the problem through the blockchain or making a scalable solution for all of humanity. Its interface brings to mind the functionality of an early 2000s PC video player, and it can break down, like when the sound cuts out as you move from one clip to the next. There are also awkward gaps in the history it archives, such as the dearth of footage documenting one of the largest massacres of civilian protesters in modern world history — the infamous assault on a Muslim Brotherhood–led sit-in shortly after the military coup of 2013, which killed more than 800 civilians. Mosireen, mostly composed of leftists and liberals who despise the Islamists they blame for derailing the revolution, did not film the Brotherhood protests, and seem to have shown little interest in working with the people who did.

But 858 is a real achievement, succeeding in what the internet’s original evangelists had always hoped would be its great prize: the democratization of information. It takes a contested historical moment and places the documentation in the people’s hands without an unreliable corporate intermediary. You are reminded, as you sit through video after video, not only that something revolutionary really did occur in Egypt in 2011 but that the event was truly popular, drilling through nearly every layer of society. It is only one window onto the uprising, framed by activists with a partisan viewpoint, but it’s a start, and more should follow....

The reach and power of tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are so new and strange that we’ve barely begun formulating a response. But we can learn from the activists already doing it; from Mosireen, or the team behind the Syrian Archive — six people, with a budget of $96,000, who are preserving thousands of hours of footage from their country’s civil war. The archive recently published the Chemical Weapons Database, documenting 221 chemical weapons attacks with 861 verified videos, implicating the Assad regime in a pattern of war crimes and putting the lie to armchair investigators helping to propagate conspiracy theories in the West. One of its cofounders recently told the Intercept that he spends nearly all his time making sure videos aren’t deleted from the big tech platforms before he gets a chance to download them.
digital_archives  archives  conflict  social_movements 
april 2018 by shannon_mattern
BBC Sound Effects - Research & Education Space
These 16,016 BBC Sound Effects are made available by the BBC in WAV format to download for use under the terms of the RemArc Licence. The Sound Effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational or research purposes, as detailed in the license.
sounds  sound_archive  archives  sound_effects 
april 2018 by shannon_mattern
Whose Knowledge |
We are a global campaign to center the knowledge of marginalized communities (the majority of the world) on the internet.

3/4 of the online population of the world today comes from the global South – from Asia, from Africa, from Latin America. And nearly half those online are women. Yet most public knowledge online has so far been written by white men from Europe and North America.

To address this, we work particularly with women, people of color, LGBTQI communities, indigenous peoples and others from the global South to build and represent more of all of our own knowledge online.
indigenous  archives  epistemology 
march 2018 by shannon_mattern
The Quest for a Universal Translator for Old, Obsolete Computer Files - Atlas Obscura
NOT SO VERY LONG AGO, web designers’ ambitions outstripped the infrastructure of the internet, so they had to resort to physical media to help carry their ideas. Dial-up modems were pokey, and the sluggish speed couldn’t handle large images or streaming video. “People did all sorts of projects that were too heavy for the live web,” says Tim Walsh, a digital archivist at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA).

One workaround to make these projects possible was to separate a website from the web. “A simple solution was to simply burn all the the HTML, JavaScript, and other large files to a CD-ROM,” Walsh says....

Some are orphaned because they were made with software that’s now extinct. Others might have been left incompatible by years of updates. Still more may have been created using expensive, specialized, niche software—such as the programs used by special effects studios or video game designers—that’s simply not widely available. In these instances, the databases that the Centre consults might not even be able to identify the file format or the software it came from. ...

For years, many architects and other designers have used a 3-D modeling software called form·Z. The software, Walsh explains, was especially popular for rendering cutting-edge projects in the 1990s and 2000s. Each new release tends to only support files created within the last two versions, meaning that form·Z 8.5 Pro, the current version installed on CCA’s CAD workstations, can’t wrangle decades worth of files created in older versions. ...

To access these complicated files, or to launch some of the sites that lived on CD-ROMs (which may need a certain operating system, browser, or other requirements to open), a user might rig up an emulation environment. An emulator is a proxy: It recreates older hardware and software on a modern-day machine. On occasion, Walsh has made some himself.

When one CCA visitor wanted to take a look at a CD-ROM-based “multimedia website” produced in conjunction with a 1996 exhibition of work by the architect Benjamin Nicholson, Walsh needed to wind back the clock. He tracked down an old license for Windows NT and installed Netscape Navigator and an old version of Adobe Reader. This all enabled decades-old functionality on a two-year-old HP tower.

This strategy works, but it has drawbacks. “These environments are time-intensive to create, will only run on a local computer, and they typically require a lot of technical know-how to set up and use,” Walsh says. Ad hoc emulation is not for the novice or the busy....

RESEARCHERS AT YALE ARE WORKING to solve this problem by creating a kind of digital Rosetta Stone, a universal translator, through an emulation infrastructure that will live online. “A few clicks in your web browser will allow users to open files containing data that would otherwise be lost or corrupted,” said Cochrane, who is now the library’s digital preservation manager. “You’re removing the physical element of it,” says Seth Anderson, the library’s software preservation manager. “It’s a virtual computer running on a server, so it’s not tethered to a desktop.”

Instead of treating each case as a one-off, like digital triage, this team wants to create a virtual, historical computer lab that’s comprehensive and ready for anything. Do you have a CD-ROM that was once stuffed in a sleeve on the cover of a textbook? A snappy virtual machine running Windows 98 might be able to help you out. “We could create any environment that we needed,” Anderson says. The goal is to build an emulation library big enough that there’s a good fit for any potential case—with definitive, clear results. ...

To recreate environments, the team needs hard copies to work from. It’s a bit like an archaeological expedition, an excavation that produces a specimen collection that can be sorted and stored. Over the last few years, the library has been acquiring a collection of “legacy computers.” Researchers scour eBay for desktop PCs from the 1990s, neon-shelled iMacs, and other machines that have long since vanished from the market. They clean up the hard drives, leaving nothing but the original operating system. The next step is to create a disk image of hard drive, copying everything—its data, its processing systems, its quirks—to a virtual replica. “Once that’s set up, you can launch it in an emulated environment,” Anderson says....

The team interviewed 40 people—primarily folks working in archives, libraries, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions—for a preliminary report released last month. In those conversations, licenses emerged as “a big source of heartburn,” Butler says.
digital_preservation  archives  preservation  emulation  software 
march 2018 by shannon_mattern
Dr Jane Birkin (Special Collections Division, University of Southampton) — APPARITION: The (im)materiality of modern surface
In this talk I will discuss an exceptionally decomposed archive object as complex material surface, considered in parallel with its 3D digital counterpart. Disintegration of surface is commonly associated with the archive object, yet it is alien to archival emphasis on the preservation of information. Digital capture through photography is often seen as a way of halting the decay of the material surface, preserving the information it is carrying, whilst protecting it from the hazards of handling.

But what if the purpose of digital capture is not to facilitate reading but to preserve decay through creation of a surrogate surface? I will present the case of the 3D scanning and printing of a tightly folded paper ‘bundle’ from the Wellington papers, in the University of Southampton’s Special Collections. Shipwreck and mould damage left several bundles of historically important letters fragmented and crumbling, and the level of decomposition means that there can be no reading, no handling. For now they are maintained in this state through modern archival storage techniques. They are in archives-speak, ‘closed’ objects (unavailable for researchers)—and they are literally closed, as decay has penetrated through the multiple surfaces and fused them together. As Cornelia Vismann (2008) argues in the case of Alselm Kiefer’s lead books, ‘They are files at a standstill [...] what is one to do with these unreadable tomes other than venerate them as icons of writing and literacy?’ The official ‘what to do’ is to eventually make these letters readable, as has already been done with others: the bundle is teased apart, and each letter is given a new surface as missing areas are filled with paper made from pulp similar to the original, and then strengthened by a layer of size.

The 3D printing process preserves the outer form of the bundle, and the scanning produces a digital fragmentation of its own, paralleling the material disintegration at the edges of the bundle. Multiple surfaces are encountered and discussed through these conservation and scanning processes: the original surface of the bundle; the discrete surface of each letter; the digital file that can be rotated and examined on the surface of a computer screen; and the 3D print. The print itself, although providing a relatively robust material record of a fragile object, is an empty copy of the original. It is pure surface, hollow and bent, a skin with no body inside.
archives  conservation  3D_scanning  ruins  access  objects 
march 2018 by shannon_mattern
LIBRARYSTACK∎ | Art & Culture Digital Lending Library
Library Stack is an archival repository and bibliographic index of independent ebooks, audio files, videos and digital documents being published within the fields of contemporary art, design, media studies, cinema, architecture and philosophy. We collect serial publications from established platforms and primary source material from artists, authors, designers and cultural thinkers, often including overlooked media such as typefaces, podcasts, 3D models, field recordings and software. Many such independently produced digital art publications are not being archived and are at risk of being lost from the historical record. Library Stack preserves and indexes all works according to Open Archives standards, and exposes them to the global library system through the WorldCat database.
archives  art_books  artists_books  independent_publications  little_magazines 
march 2018 by shannon_mattern
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