Archiving the Hyperarchive

A pretty great video about The Internet Archive is here. “Library of Alexandria 2.0 will exist for (hopefully) many more centuries than version 1.0 did.” And not only is The Internet Archive archiving the Internet, it’s trying to preserve real live books as well. “Burning books isn’t the problem; people get flooded–there’s so much information.” Hyperarchival realism, indeed.

Digital Public Library of America

In the most recent issue of The New York Review of Books Robert Darnton discusses the 18 April 2013 launch of the Digital Public Library of America. As Darnton describes the goals of this project, “The Digital Public Library of America [. . .] is a project to make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans–and eventually to everyone in the world–online and free of charge.” Wow, total access to the (hyper)archive for anyone. This is an amazing project.


Irony, Archives, and (Dubious) Posthumanism

I’m currently discussing DFW’s “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction”[1] with my freshman English class, and so of course it was quite appropriate that Christy Wampole just wrote an opinion piece in Saturday’s New York Times, “How to Live Without Irony.”

In hyperarchival news:

To address this issue, the Wikimedia Foundation is collaborating with JSTOR, a service of the not-for-profit organization ITHAKA, to provide 100 of the most active Wikipedia editors with free access to the complete archive collections on JSTOR, including more than 1,600 academic journals, primary source documents and other works. The authors who will receive accounts have collectively written more than 100,000 Wikipedia articles to date. Access to JSTOR, which is one of the most popular sources on English Wikipedia, will allow these editors to further fill in the gaps in the sum of all human knowledge.

And The New Yorker has a piece by Gary Marcus on “Ray Kurzweil’s Dubious New Theory of Mind.”

[1] There are two things to note about this link: 1) it links to a .pdf of the original Review of Contemporary Fiction piece from 1993, so is (perhaps) slightly different than its final appearance in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (1997), and 2) it is dedicated to “M.M. Karr” (Mary Karr), which takes on all sorts of different significances in the wake of Max’s biography of DFW.

Archiving Every Bomb the United States Has EVER Dropped

Bryan Bender at the Boston Globe reports how Lieutenant Colonel Jenns Robertson has assembled a report on every bomb the US has ever dropped since WWI(!!!), “a compilation that, at the click of a mouse and a few keystrokes, reveals for the first time the sheer magnitude of destruction inflicted by the US and its allies from the air in the last century.” Going by the name: Theater History of Operations Reports (or THOR), this hyperarchive of US military violence is truly staggering. “One particularly relevant example: From October 1965 to May 1975, at least 456,365 cluster bombs were dropped on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, according to the records analyzed.”

Memory and the Baseball Archive

Over at the excellent Triple Canopy, Colby Chamberlain interviews Bryan Zanisnik, whose recent installation, “Every Inch a Man,” features Zanisnik “spend[ing] five hours a day, Thursday through Sunday, inside a Plexiglas booth, reading a copy of Philip Roth’s The Great American Novel (1973) while wearing goggles to protect his eyes from the baseball cards and outdated currency being blown about by the fans installed within the booth’s base.”

Zanisnik on the individualized baseball card (hyper)archive: “I was looking at [my baseball card] collection for the first time in probably twenty years, yet when I picked up individual cards I could remember all sorts of details: which position in the outfield someone played, which year he made the All-Star team. This physical interaction stirred up dormant long-term memories.From that point on, I began conceiving of these sets and installations as physical manifestations of childhood memory—albeit ones structured by commodity culture. It’s the visual and tactile qualities of these consumer objects that activate a set of memories for me and hopefully for others as well. ” “Baseball Card as Madeleine” indeed.

Bryan Zanisnik, 18 Years of American Dreams, 2010

Wow, Quite the Mega-Text

A good friend of mine just directed my attention to Richard Grossman’s Breeze Avenue, a massive text that will eventually be 3,000,00 pages, 15 terabytes of information, roughly 5% of the entire Library of Congress.[1] Does the term “mega-text” even cover something this large?

[1] Note: An earlier version of this post claimed that this 15 terabytes would be “more than the entire Library of Congress.” As so much on Grossman’s site, the details of the project keep changing.