Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thinking About What I'm Doing, Kind Of

Jennifer Howard asked a question in her blog post, Doubting Digital Durability, and I found myself in a twitter conversation with her and with @RepoRat, Dorothea Salo. Kind of like conversing with the NetGods.

I wrote a comment for Jen's blog, and it won't post. Yaay technology. So here it is:

Scattered thoughts:

I lately bought a paperback published in 1953. It crumbled as I read it, though I was extremely careful, scarcely opened it far enough to read the lines of type.

But I also once held in hand a book published by Aldus' press in 1515. This was the year he died, so probably not literally an Aldine edition but rather the work of his successors. Still, the book was nearabouts 500 years old, and almost touching Aldus himself across time: my hands remember holding it, with reverence, not wanting to let it go.

Paper persists, as Walt Crawford said in 1998 ("Paper Persists: Why Physical Library Collections Still Matter." Online 22:1 (January/February 1998): 42-48.) The old link I had to the article itself has not persisted, but you probably can find it somewhere.

Mir S. and I did Santa Fe Poetry Broadside, a digital poetry magazine, from 1998 to 2009. When we stopped, we were certainly not of the same mind about what should become of it. To me, from the moment we started, Santa Fe Poetry Broadside was the entirety of what we had published, all at once. To my co-editor, it was an ephemeral publication by definition and by name, a Broadside; and the best of each poet's work would find its way to print; or not. To me, those poems we published are retroactively not-published if we allow them to evaporate.

It's archived in LOCKSS, but LOCKSS is a dark archive. The Santa Fe Poetry Broadside as we intended it vanishes utterly from the web if I miss one payment to my ISP. LOCKSS will migrate its data as technology changes, yes, and thank you so much, LOCKSS; nevertheless, if I want the Broadside to remain alive on the Web, the curation 'technique' is to pay forever.

@RepoRat thinks I could find another Repository to archive it. Then I'd only have to keep up payments for our domain name. Bottom line: it's a (very) Little Magazine, but unlike the ones on my bookshelves, it needs my will to persist.

I did care about the blogging I did for my former place of work. I was a library's voice behind the curtain for 30 months. It was work that wasn't quite mine, and I had to leave it behind. Almost 4 years on, they seem to be taking good care of it. As to this present blog, I really don't know what to think. It doesn't touch my professional work, but is the record of going on four years of my life. This will eventually matter to whom? exactly why?

We now return you to something like our regular programming. I might have something to say later today about the lot across the street, the one inhabited by trees (and trash). But first I need to think for a while about Libyan journalist Mohammad Nabbous, who was killed last night. #libya #libya #libya #japan #bahrain #yemen #libya


waltc said...

Thanks for the shout-out (that was an award-winning article--my only one). I've thought some of the same things regarding Cites & Insights and my blog. Doesn't much matter if--when--the blog disappears a year after I give up on it. Might matter if C&I vanishes entirely when I'm not around to pay the domain & LISHost bills. Fortunately, so far at least, OCLC Library is archiving C&I, and it's not a dark archive. But the larger issues await.

mb said...

I'm glad that essay won an award, but sorry there were no analogous kudos for "Just Point Me in the Right Direction"? That's another of your phrases which immediately stuck on me, and by golly, that essay is still out there :-)

Patricia Deuson said...

This 'touching the hand'. I sometimes wonder if that isn't more important than what's actually in antiquarian books. I find it especially 'touching' in cookbooks. It's the stains and notes.

mb said...

Thanks for your note, Patricia. In general I read the newest titles by the authors I like, haunting the public library and tending my lists of titles I'm waiting for. When I worked in a public library I called people like me Addicts of the New and worried constantly on their behalf about keeping up the supply of what they needed. Meanwhile, at home, a very small collection of books I can't let go of, that stick to my hands; and xeroxes of scientific papers that represent topics have I tried to learn about, many too old to represent current thinking, and still I keep them...