Archival Impulses

Lida Moser_Judy and the BoysAs a librarian, it’s rare the occasion when I don’t have archives on the brain. Personal or public, self-maintained or crowdsourced collections have become an almost unconscious substrate of our technological interactions. Any collections management software or CMS from commercial entities like Etsy, to institutional ones like Collection Space or  Collective Access  to social ones like Pinterest or the Retronaut cut from a similar archival cloth.
JamelShabazz_22Inspired by an impulse to preserve, capture and coordinate our collections in an online environment, each of these examples performs an archival function even when privileging contemporary content (re: commercial shopping sights, pinterests, instagram, umpteen social networks). And I’m not complaining, just collating. We’ve developed software to help us manage the overwhelming information on the internet without necessarily acknowledging the dept that practice bears to archival impulse. We’ve adapted social media outlets like Facebook and twitter to record our thoughts and internet actions on a trackable timeline to trace our trajectory from digital birth to present day. So here’s some examples of how we archive in a local context, kind of a hodge-podgey list with a personal bias. To couple with this them and locality, I’ve added some photos from Lida Moser’s (namesake whoot) and Jamal Shabazz’s work (which I had the privilege of cataloging at the Brooklyn Public Library), archives FTW.
Jamal ShabazzThesis: So i finished my thesis, yay, and promised to push it to public criticism, creative commons, accolades (probably !). The title and topic is related to archives, predictably, So feel free to browse it on Git Hub and pull request some suggestions. It’s a bit of a tome, appropriate for somnambulant wanderings into Archival Ether.
Radio Show Wrapup: Last week I also wrapped up the second season of my radio show, Stereo Semantics. Check out the archived episodes, tracklists, and semantic node-edge maps for season 2 here and for season 1 here. Stay tuned for Algorhythmic (a math rock and generative music show) and, my upcoming shows. Props to @jakeporwary for the Math Rock push.
emptiness-undated-001Rhizome 7 on 7 Conference: Each year rhizome teams artists and technologists for a day of conversation and innovation, and this year produced some slick archival projects. Read the editorial here. Anyway, friendfracker was a provocative project about automated deleting a bit of your social footprint, Dabit was an admirable donation project soliciitng voluntary charitable donations in a kind of lottery system that caches the donations for the day and awards on random volunteer half of the proceeds (the other half going to charity). For even more peripheral archival talk, one project addressed information “obesity” and “overload” and another called out the “loop” as an attractive and cathartic paradigm in contemporary culture, perhaps one worth investigating as it pertains to how we plan for posterity, how we catalog and store our digital selves.
LISA: the recent Leaders in Software and Art meetups introduced me to some stellar social archives. Exemplary of this, Nick Dangerfield of Part/Particle demoed  a chrome-based creative collage and stencil app called It’s beta but if you’re interested you can create an account here: Images and gifs can be dropped from the library or desktop, altered or instagrammed into stencils, music from desktop and video from vimeo/youtube.You can create and share boards, and they’re adding features. I made one to show my apartment to potential viewers, adding in some cat gifs, it’s like dragndrop myspace retro fetishism.
Likewise, Paolo Cirio had a few interesting “disruptive” projects manipulating public data so as to point to that status of privacy in our wwworld.
 jamel_shabazz_boys of brooklyn
Past Perfect: This year’s Tribeca Hacks Festival revealed an ongoing archival project about capturing memories and visually rendering them in an online video archive. Entitled Past Perfect, the project solicits “memories” from craigslist volunteers and then visually rendered them in video form. Check out the project to schedule a memory consultation here.
I love your work: Last week I had a blissful 24hours access to an archive of human emotions courtesy of 6+ hours of footage about nine women who make lesbian porn. A catalogue interviews with these women coupled with an exquisite UI, ‘I love your work‘ made for a really polished web archive. I wish I had a few more hours to explore, and a faceted browse function, but otherwies, I recommend the project, pairs well with Cowbird.
Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 6.54.54 PM
Science Studio: A recent project I’m proud to have kickstarted, Science Studio provides an archive of science-related multimedia content on the web. I’ve been enjoying the upvoted and crowdsourced podcasts and music selections over my coffitivity since launch. This one was particularly touching about parasites and “holes in the net,” however you might interpret it.
 LidaMoser_alt Judy and the Boys
ITP Spring Show: Lots of rad projects were on display at the typically eclectic, variably impressive NYU ITP Show this year. One of my favorites (#typical) was Matt Epler’s Kinograph film preservation project. Impressive for its utility as much as it’s stellar execution, Epler designed and built a way to affordably digitize film frame by frame.
23 and Me: My long awaited results for 23andMe arrived, clocking me at an X2b genomic profile on my materal side and an “unknown” on my paternal. :/ Perhaps one of the more disappointing personal archives I’ve explored this week, though, the labs projects included a downloadable sonification of my genome, which is now my ringtone.
Patents and IP Protection: Maybe one of the more yawn-worthy topics for most, the evolution of software patents and cyber security kind of settle at the same part in my brain where archival impulses incubate. I’m pretty preoccupied by cyber secu and citizen (computer) science. While I won’t bore you as I’ve blogged about this before for Girl Develop It, I think it’s worth mentioning here that our we’re at this beautiful precipice in the reconciling of intellectual ingenuity and open source ethos in developing software. I’m looking forward to participating in conversations about this topic and further witnessing developing  as regulations and practices codify. For a glimpse of internet security history look here. For further research on algorhythmic patenting and happenings, retro-follow the Governing Algorithms conference (and a few of my below-captioned tweets from last week).  And for a way to involve yourself in the immediate, peruse this past week’s happenings here:
Lida Moser_Street Scene

UpcomingWorld Science Festival inaugurates a summer of promise to bring more exciting things in the coming week.  I’ll also be attending Siggraph-LA and OFFF in the coming months. Looking forward to those post-scripts as they come. 🙂 Thanks for reading. PPS: see public service message below.

The Lab for Robotics Education is hosting a free summer robotics program for high school students in NYC! Applications are now open, for more details visit

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