A Political Campaign in 140 Characters

By Jessica Jochum

Since the development of various technologies and progression of the digital age, the electoral process has dramatically changed since 1789 when George Washington was elected. The presidential candidates for the 2016 election are fighting a battle that hasn’t been fought before.

The Past – 1789 to 2000s.

In early America, presidents such as George Washington and James Monroe traveled by horseback or carriage to address crowds in person and published statements in “broadsheets” and early newspapers. Lincoln had the relative advantage of traveling by locomotive or using the telegraph. Telephones appeared in the White House in 1877 while Rutherford B. Hayes was president. Like Harding, President William Taft used the phonograph to distribute recordings of his speeches. However, the most rapid advancement in communication for presidents occurred in the 20th century. 1

Those advancements are found in the introduction of radio, television, and later, the internet. Each technology had the power to change, for better or for worse, a candidate’s campaigns and influence on voters.

One of the most notable, influential presidential campaigns that took advantage of the media occurred in 1960, when Kennedy was running against Nixon. They participated in first ever televised Presidential debates known as “The Great Debates.” The debates were simultaneously broadcasted over the radio. Those listening to the radio declared Nixon the winner of the debate, and those watching the televised broadcast decidedly chose Kennedy as the winner. Why was there such a stark difference of opinion? On the radio, listeners judge the debates through speech and tone. With the introduction of television, there came all kinds of new ways to judge candidates: not just by what was said, but body language, eye contact, charisma, and of course, appearance. When it came to the newly developed judging criteria, Kennedy floored his opponent. Kennedy looked directly into the camera, whereas Nixon shifted his gaze to the side. Kennedy was tanned, and wore make-up; Nixon looked pale and sickly after just recovering from the flu. 2

Polls revealed that more than half of all voters had been influenced by “The Great Debates,” while 6% claimed that the debates alone had decided their choice. Whether or not the debates cost Nixon the presidency, they were a major turning point in the 1960 race—and in the history of media in campaigns. 3 

Nixon-Kennedy-debates_19604

The slightly more recent past.

Social Media. Need I say more? Okay, I guess I do.

Barack Obama, coined the “President of Social Media”, garnered five million supporters on fifteen social networking sites for the 2008 election, with most of the “follower” count being on Facebook and Twitter. Prior to this election, neither of these platforms were used in campaigns. During his 2008 campaign, Obama launched an “Ask Me Anything” thread on popular site, Reddit, which became one of the most popular threads of all time. Obama and his team strategized to use these social media platforms to reach out to the young and minority voters. Upon his victory in the 2008 election, Barack sent a tweet “We just made history. All of this happened because you gave you time, talent and passion. All of this happened because of you. Thanks” – which was retweeted only 157 times. His later 2012 victory tweet (“Four more years.”)  became the most shared post in the site’s history, with over 400,000 retweets within a few hours of his posting. 5

barack

This dramatic increase shows the incredible growth of not only users on twitter, but their online interactions in politics. Obama was the first candidate to embrace and effectively utilize social media in his campaign, and throughout his presidency. His strategy was so effective because “the medium wasn’t the message, so to speak; it was the vehicle. It connected with people, with real enthusiasm, in real time, and gave them an easy and accessible way to show their support for change.” 6 Currently Obama has twenty aides that update his social media accounts.

Today.

The current campaigns for the 2016 Presidential Election featured the first “official” integration of social media of its kind – with Twitter. Sure, hashtags have been used widely for years – and Obama certainly capitalized on the use of Twitter during his campaign and throughout his presidency. However, this is the first election that Twitter officially partnered with the GOP and Democratic Debates.

cbs

This partnership featured live coverage of the events on Twitter. Users simply had to click on the #GOPdebate or #DemDebate links and they would be brought to a live twitter feed of coverage. The feed showed popular tweets using the hashtags, a “top stories” with photos and videos, and a sidebar for related articles to topics being discussed on the debates, provided by organizations such as USA Today, New York Times, and Fox News. (It is worth noting briefly that the organizations that were live tweeting were largely either reiterating the candidates’ claims, or in some cases, to support their own agenda, so to speak. @PlannedParenthood was especially active during the debates, either condemning the views of Republicans or praising those of Democrats. Clearly, the material being promoted on twitter was not bias-free.)

The Democratic Debate on Nov 14th, 2015 aired on the CBS network. Twitter and CBS linked together, and users had the unique opportunity to tweet to CBS using the #DemDebate hashtag. Tweets were pulled from the thousands sent, and some were read to the candidates to respond to – not unlike how reality shows in the same vein as  America’s Got Talent and The Voice display live tweets. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton made a statement early in the debate, and a twitter user tweeted asking her to clarify her response. Hillary addressed the question and cleared up any miscommunication (well, so she hopes).

All of the candidates were tweeting during the debates. Rather, someone on their team was tweeting from their accounts. This gave candidates an extra platform to clarify or expand upon their responses in the debate. Hillary Clinton’s twitter account even tweeted at the start of the debate, “If you’re not watching the #demdebate, we can email you the highlights!” along with a link to sign up for her mailing list. Clever, Hillary. Clever.  

Okay, but does social media really make a difference?

Facebook claims to have increased voter turnout by 340,000 votes. And a third of those aged 18-24 indicated that reading something on social media would influence their vote more than televised debates. In the same age group of those online, 41% of users participated in political activity online. 7

In today’s world, not having a digital presence would be more detrimental than having one. Candidates that don’t use social media might come off as if they had something to hide. Erin Lindsay, a principal for digital at Precision Strategies, says social media “forces candidates to show more personality. Authenticity is a big thing in social media. I think the candidates that are the most successful are the ones that are clearly the most comfortable.” 8 Voters want someone genuine, and social media gives a way for the candidates to prove their authenticity.

The political advertisement spending is expected to reach 11.4 billion dollars for the upcoming election. Spending on social media is estimated to account for over half of the one million dollar budget for social media – a 5,000% increase from the 2008 election. 9  With a budget this large, you can definitely expect a flurry of activity from the candidates on the networking platforms.

Facebook and Twitter have been the major sources of social media campaigning. However, this election is the first one in which we can see Instagram becoming an up-and-coming player. In November 2015, Instagram boasted having 400 million monthly users, as opposed to Twitter’s 316 million. 10  The campaigning territory on Instagram is starting to be utilized, but still is not as popular as Facebook and Twitter when it comes to political activity. Imagine the mental anguish that would go into choosing the best photo filter…

From riding on horseback to constructing a (hopefully) carefully thought out tweet, candidates have embraced technology as a part of their campaign.

  1. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/harding-becomes-first-president-to-be-heard-on-the-radio
  2. http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/kennedy-nixon-debates
  3. http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/kennedy-nixon-debates
  4. http://www.kingsacademy.com/mhodges/03_The-World-since-1900/11_The-Bewildering-60s/pictures/Nixon-Kennedy-debates_1960.jpg
  5. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/nov/07/how-barack-obama-celebrated-twitter
  6. http://www.dragonflyeffect.com/blog/dragonfly-in-action/case-studies/the-obama-campaign/
  7. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/r-kay-green/the-game-changer-social-m_b_8568432.html
  8. http://thehill.com/policy/technology/251185-welcome-to-the-social-media-election
  9. http://www.wired.com/2015/08/digital-politcal-ads-2016/
  10. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/23/instagram-hits-400-million-users-beating-twitter.html

Listening in at an Audio Archive, an observation

By belantara

The Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound at the New York Public Library of Performing Arts is the second largest archive of recorded sound in the United States.  It is home to a wide range of recordings including but not limited to music in just about every genre, recordings of theater, opera and comedic performances, oral histories, speeches, radio broadcasts and field recordings. The archive holds recordings on every kind of format from wax cylinders to shellac discs, magnetic tape, cassettes and digital audio files.

The collection can be accessed by visiting the third floor of the Library of Performing Arts and making a listening request at the audiovisual desk.  Patrons must look up the title, author and class mark, write it down and present a request slip to the library assistant.  Everything is classed according to its format for efficient shelving, not according to genre, record label or subject.  It is easiest to find a recording if one knows the specific track or artist she is looking for.  The online catalog is not designed for browsing like one might do in a record store.  Visitors can search via a massive card catalog or the song index that is also housed in card catalogs.  The card catalogs, though rarely in visible use, still provide something a little more like a browsing experience for those wishing to stumble upon something unexpected.  In addition to the catalogs, one can also peruse finding aides for different collections within the collection.  However the finding aides are varied, and some have very little information listed about what a particular title actually contains. Some of the finding aides have handwritten notes or corrections from previous researchers.  The sheer volume of material is astounding and somewhat overwhelming.  It is truly an amazing and treasure trove of a collection.

After making the listening request, a listener is given a set of headphones and is assigned a seat at a numbered listening station.  The listening stations are equipped with computers that have a special software program installed on them.  A patron must wait while the requested audio is collected from the vast archive that is located in the basement of the building.

A little known fact is that library staff known as the playback team are waiting in the basement to retrieve and play back audio for patrons.  They find the requested material and in the case of vinyl or shellac discs or audio reels, they also operate the playback equipment.  The playback equipment in the basement is connected to the computers on the third floor so that listeners can hear the requested sounds without actually handling the sometimes fragile audio carriers.  The computer software allows listeners to scroll or fast forward through digital audio files during playback, however if a listener has requested a vinyl LP for example, the listener must indicate which track he or she wants to hear via a messaging service on the computer screen.  The playback staff is notified of the listener’s message with a little “beep” and will move the needle to the the desired track on the record.  This can sometimes prove a little difficult for staff when patrons ask to hear specific tracks or parts of tracks repeatedly for their research.  Many patrons assume the entire system is computerized and do not realize the human labor involved in bringing the sounds to their ears.  They do not always understand why it might take a little time to process their request, in these days where messages are sent into space and back in fractions of a second.  Some that do understand the situation send humorous messages to the playback team via the messaging system, like “Dear Audio God, please play the next track.”

Listeners can stay for as long as they like during opening hours.  Some researchers, having made special trips from other parts of the country or abroad will stay the full day or multiple days, only taking short breaks to have lunch in the library cafe.  They are trying to get through hours and hours of material during the short time they have in New York.  While video or photos allow one to quickly scan and find points of interest, it does not work the same way for audio, particularly during interviews or field recordings.  One must sit and listen in real time, unless the audio has been logged or transcribed.  Recent developments in automatic transcription and partnerships with organizations such as Pop Up Archive may prove very useful for researchers in the future.

While the collection holds such a wide array of fascinating recordings and most likely has something of interest to just about anyone, it does not seem that there are many casual listeners or members of the general public who stop in to sample what the archive has to offer.  Lack of  awareness of the collection and accessibility are two issues that perhaps lead to less enjoyment and use of the RHA holdings.

In his article, “The User Experience,” Aaron Schmidt defines user experience as “arranging the elements of a product or service to optimize how people will interact with it.”  Librarians, curators and archivists working with audio collections must think about how people want to interact with the sounds in their collections.  Copyright issues, conservation, audio formats and accessibility are all issues to consider when planning out how audio collections will be encountered and experienced by library users.  In what ways do people want to listen?

From the user experience perspective, one issue members of the public must face is gaining access to the spaces where they can hear the recordings.  To access the listening stations, patrons must first place their belongings with security.  Then, as outlined before they must make a request to hear the material, some of which may or may not be immediately available since some recordings must be digitized before playback is allowed. This situation may not be a problem for researchers familiar with library procedures who need access to the recordings in order to carry out their work.  However, what about the patron who may not even know the collection exists, considering that it is located in a locked basement doors and difficult to browse online?  Audio collections tell fascinating stories through words, sound and music.  However, without more focus on user experience, they may go unheard.  Listening spaces in libraries are in need of an update.  As audio technology becomes less expensive and more widely available, why aren’t library users offered more options for listening?  Innovations in audio technology can raise awareness of collections, improve accessibility and offer library patrons new ways of listening.  How do you want to listen?

My Observation of the NYPL Digital Archives

By mgarci23

For my observation, I chose to spend three hours examining the New York Public Library Digital Archive. The reason I chose this specific topic is because I have a lot of mixed feelings when it comes to digital archives. Personally, I prefer to examine an object or document first hand. The sensory aspect of coming into contact with a historic document or object is something that can’t be replicated virtually. However, the availability of partial or complete collections is a new aspect of library, museum and archive culture that is something to be admired. Many people don’t even realize the scope of an institution’s resources until they stumble upon it.

Pros

The largest pro of the NYPL is the extent of its content. Many of their collections have been digitize. On the homepage is an interactive set of information. Scrolling over some of the stats and the viewer is able to compile comparisons. For example the total sq. footage of the archive is  the equivalent of forty-four Empire State Buildings. At the same time they provide the public with a working update of how many pages have been digitized. So far the NYPL archives have digitized 180,777 pages of their collections. While that isn’t much it is still Often researchers, students, or the general public have to make appointments in order to see a specific collection with supervision. With online archives patrons are able to browse collections unsupervised.

Another pro is the new beta linked data tool that creates connections between different aspects of various collections. This already is an invaluable tool not available at a physical archive. The only person able to make the connections is the archivist who has worked on the collection.

The comment section is really nice pro for the NYPL Digital Collections. Recently, I found out that the comments section was reviewed by staff members and what they found was extraordinary. One commenter stated that his grandfather was the man being lynched in a photo. The commenter wanted to donate other material of his grandfather to provide more depth about his grandfather’s life. Other comments provided supplemental information about other photos such as back story to stores or children in the photos (some of them were the children or lived in the subject places). Since the digital archive is relatively new, I hope that they will take this feature useful in a different department and incorporate it into their own.

The final pro I found particularly interesting is something that is shared between all archives. Online archives allows the public to access material that might be too fragile for physical access. A lot of the documents I examined where old and/ or in terrible condition. In this instance the New York Public Library archives created a sort of balance between the patron and the fragile thing.

Cons

The largest con I have against the NYPL archives is how they formatted the way you access the content. Often times I found myself circumvented to other areas I did not want to be in, such as the catalog. The developers assume patrons will be able to understand the layout and navigate it. That is extremely bothersome because online archives are a relatively new aspect and every archive designs their website differently. To assume that the patron will automatically understand places a great strain on the patron. If the patron becomes frustrated with the system, they won’t use it anymore.

Another con is the amount of control a patron has over what they see. With online archives patrons are only given access to what the archivist provides and how they provide them. With physical archives the patron has more access to different aspects of the document. Such as small marks that can not be clearly seen online because the resolution isn’t the best. Physical contact with an object allows the observer to notice details that might be obscured by pixelation. For example I wanted to look closer at some written note on a document on the NYPL archives and could barely read it because the image quality limited from seeing it. This is the example that I am referring too.

The last con I have against digital archives is the difference in experience a person feels when they come into contact with a historical document or object. This is particularly personal because as someone who deeply appreciates history, that experience of working with document or object that is part of a larger historical context has deep meaning for me. To not be able to feel the kind of paper, ridges or bumps or smell the ink, paper or whatever kind of material almost makes it hard for me to fully respect the object for document.

There a lot of aspects of digital archives that I enjoy and certainly the NYPL archives is an excellent example of a digital archive. However, there are certain aspects of traditional research that can’t be replicated in digital form. Throughout the entire observation, I kept in mind, Roy Rosenzweig’s, “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era,” where he mentions the historian and their refusal to accept digital archives. While I have some reservations about digital archives and the authenticity of the archived object but I understand how important it is to make connections between works. That is one of the reason I appreciate NYPL archive’s linked data feature.

Observation: The Internet Archive and the Question of Abundance

By keneilb

Historians, in fact, maybe facing a fundamental paradigm shift from a culture of scarcity to a culture of abundance. Not so long ago, we worried about the small numbers of people we could reach, pages of scholarship we could publish, primary sources we could introduce to our students, and documents that had survived from the past. At least potentially, digital technology has removed many of these limits: over the Internet, it costs no more to deliver the AHR two 15 million people than 15,000 people; it costs less for our students to have access to literally millions of primary sources than a handful in a published anthology. And we may be able to both save and quickly search through all of the products of our culture. But will abundance bring better or more thoughtful history? (Rosenzweig, 2013)

In the recent past, information wasn’t as available as it is today. In today’s age we can hardly imagine what it is like to not have constant access to information. The moment we think of something we don’t know the answer to or someone asks us a question we might not know the answer to we can immediately pull out a mere device such as a cellphone to look up the answers practically instantaneously. Information is constantly at our beck and call, and with the tremendous growth in technology we have many ways of accessing it, storing it, and archiving it, whether it be through computers, laptops, phones, tablets, and even glasses. In addition to that, there is still the “old school” method of simply going to a library and finding the text you need, which now is much easier to browse since you can do it from home, have a book placed on hold for you so it’s ready upon your arrival to the library. Insane! But not really, because we are so used to it.

Rosenzweig asks the question as previously quoted, “But will abundance bring better or more thoughtful history?” I like to agree with Jason Silva on this one. Jason Silva is a futurist who puts a positive light on technological advancements and how humans can and will interface with them. In one of his videos on the YouTube channel Shots of Awe, he talks about one facet of how technology is shared, through the Internet, and describes how it actually increases the flow of curiosity and creativity. Many people believe that technology is making us lazy, that the Internet makes us simply look for an answer and then just move on without much thought. However, Jason Silva makes a good point that the Internet actually offloads some of our mental faculties, so that we can focus on even more things. What he means is that by being aided by the Internet to get an abundance of information quickly, we can spend more time on greater things, such as more thought towards what we have learned from it. So I believe that the answer to Rosenzweig’s question is that abundance will indeed bring better and more thoughtful history.

As previously mentioned, technology has made even using the library quicker and more efficient. We wont be saying good-bye to libraries any time soon. But, not only can you access physical items through a library, but also one of the most widely growing areas is digitizing resources. Now we might not always have to set foot into a library if we are looking for a quick e-source such as an e-book, journal article, etc. Most libraries offer access to these things, specifically academic libraries. It’s gotten so far that there are some libraries that might not have a specific physical location for their patrons to come in, but rather they exist online. One such place is the Internet Archive, at https://www.archive.org

The Internet Archive is a non-profit Internet library that started in 1997 with the purpose to “include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.” Many may already know them for their Way Back Machine that has 439 web pages saved from different periods of time, but they also store formats from texts, video, audio, software, image, concerts, and collections.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.22.06 PM

Way Back Machine

The Way Back Machine was fun to explore. It was quite interesting to see websites such as yahoo, and amazon in its early stages. Yahoo, for instance was in no way visually appealing, and worked like a directory with a general list that branched off into more lists until you could narrow it down to the sites that you were looking for. It shows the gradual increase in our interfaces and how the Internet became much more user oriented as time went on, making it easier for humans to interface with it.

Old Yahoo

I also went ahead and created my own account for their website. The heading of the account creation page states, “Get a Virtual Library Card”. They treat their website as a library of its own, and your account is considered to be your Library Card. Having an account allows you to access other functions of the website. This includes favoriting, reviewing and rating items. The Internet Archive’s collections has a very straight forward browsing tool. When on a collection, each item has its own box which shows the item type, how many times its been viewed, how many times its been favorited, and how many times its been reviewed. This creates a very unique community, because with a physical library a patron doesn’t have any access to how many times an item has been viewed or how many people like it, or what people think about it. With this available to patrons, it can help them browse for popular items or less popular items or read up on what people have to say about it. Having the ability to write a review also allows patrons to leave very helpful tips. Through my observations, I’ve seen patrons give advice as to where to go to find more information on an item, as well as correct an item and informing the Internet Archive team about missing information from an item. At the bottom of each item you can also find what people have found after finding the current item. This creates a trend that can be very helpful for those with similar taste in books or whatever the item type is.

I’ve noticed that not all items are full text, but many are. I’ve even searched for “The Jungle Book” and was able to find the full original movie from 1942 and was able to watch it all for free! https://archive.org/details/JungleBook. There were also some very interesting finds just from browsing, like audio from NASA launches to be listened to in full. There are also tons of images archived on this website, even including your favorite music album covers.

As I browsed the site I was in awe of all the history we are able to store and access because of sites like the Internet Archive. But behind it all was the nagging question of how permanent can all this truly be? Their purpose states that it’s a permanent place, but in actuality all of this is stored on servers, computers probably in different areas and links back to other sources that they might have received it from. It would probably be really difficult to lose all of these files, but I can’t help but think that it is still possible. Technology is always growing and changing, leaving old methods of storage nearly obsolete; such as computers today not having a floppy disc drive to read files stored on a floppy. So, having archival websites like this one is a massive historical tool that can help many people to learn from the past and present. It probably wont be going anywhere for a long time, but I believe efforts should be made to observe ways to store these things in an even more permanent way, so that people in the future will also have access and not just for our time alone. This, too, can have issues with space to store so much information, but the trend seems to be that we are inventing smaller and smaller spaces of storage. Who knows how far we will go.

References

Internet Archive. https://archive.org. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.

Rosenzweig, R. (2003). Scarcity or abundance? Preserving the past in a digital era. The American Historical Review, 108(3), 735-762.

A Digital Sounding Board: The Internet and Filter Bubbles

By Clare Nolan

Most of us have some sort of daily routine with the Internet. For example, every morning, I get up, take a shower, and then settle down in front of my computer for fifteen to twenty minutes of Internet browsing before I get ready for the day. I check my Facebook, I read the webcomics I follow, I look at my e-mail, I peruse some blogs, and I scan through viral images. Instead of morning coffee, I start my day with a blast of information. But does that blast of information contain a wide range of material from across the Internet or is it made up of content that’s been tailored just for me?

The fact is that the Internet that we see is not pure, unaffected information, but information that has gone through a variety of filters that have been placed in order to ensure that we, as users, will receive the kind of information that we most want to see. These filters involve advertisers, social media companies, search engine developers, and even self-imposed filters that we might not even be conscious of. Together, all of these filters form what author Eli Pariser refers to as “the filter bubble.” In his 2011 TED Talk, Pariser defines the filter bubble as:

Your own personal, unique universe of information that you live in online. And what’s in your filter bubble depends on who you are, and it depends on what you do. But the thing is that you don’t decide what gets in. And more importantly, you don’t actually see what gets edited out. 1

Sites like Google, Facebook, and even various news sites are in the business of making sure that the content that appears on your screen is the exact content that you want to see. The reason is simple: the more they display content you want, the more time you’re going to spend on their websites, and the more they’re going to profit from the ad revenue that comes from each page you click on. They don’t have an interest in providing you with a diverse array of information, only the information that will make you stay on their site. The result is that many users find limited information, or information that merely supports what they believe/what they want to hear, when they are under the impression that they are receiving unfiltered information. Robert W. McChesney writes that filter bubbles: “keep us in a world that constantly reinforces our known interests and reduces empathy, creativity, and critical thought.”2

Filter bubbles are constructed in a variety of ways, and are designed to keep users reliant on a certain service. Pariser’s initial example is Facebook, where your News Feed is tailored based on the people you interact with on the site. Pariser tells the story of how he started to notice that his friends who posted links to politically conservative information started to vanish off of his News Feed, while the friends who posted links to politically liberal information remained.3 This is because Facebook employs an algorithm that tracks how often you interact with certain people (clicking links, liking posts, commenting, etc.) and prioritizes your News Feed based on those interactions. For Pariser, who is a self-descried liberal, this meant that his liberal friends stayed on his News Feed because he would more often interact with their posts then he would his with those of his conservative friends. He was exposed less and less to opposing view points, meaning he was offered fewer chances for debate and fewer opportunities to learn something from an unfamiliar source. This does not mean that everything people online say has value, or that all of the conservative information would even be worth Pariser’s time. However, the idea of the Open Internet where all information can be accessed equally is not the Internet we have if sites and advertisers put on our content put more and more filters on our content.

According to Facebook, the News Feed is designed this way because the large numbers of Facebook friends that users have would make the News Feed unwieldily otherwise.4 However, the negative is that users are being exposed to less information that might challenge their way of thinking, and exposed to more information that supports what they already believe. Similar algorithms and personalization techniques are used on Google, and news sites like Huffington Post, Yahoo News, Washington Post, and the New York Times.5 With all of these filters, how can we consider opposing view points? How can we engage in discussion? How can we learn anything? Pariser argues that because filter algorithms respond to what a user clicks on, that users eventually will only get content that satisfies their immediate wants and whims when online, rather than pushing them to think further. He says:

The best editing gives us a bit of both [thoughtful content and fun content]. It gives us a little bit of Justin Bieber and a little bit of Afghanistan. It gives us some information vegetables; it gives us some information dessert. And the challenge with these kinds of algorithmic filters, these personalized filters, is that, because they’re mainly looking at what you click on first, it can throw off that balance. And instead of a balanced information diet, you can end up surrounded by information junk food.6

The problem is, content providers, search engines, and advertisers don’t necessarily see a reason to provide users with the sort of Internet that offers them both ‘vegetables’ and ‘desert’. The system currently in place makes money, and as long as these companies are profiting, they have a limited investment in what content their users are consuming.

The more that individuals are exposed to views and information that validates and enforces their current world view, the harder it becomes to converse with others about those views, especially in a digital format. Filters help convince users that their opinions are more valid than the opinions of others, and people start to create online communities where little debate is welcomed and users mostly share the same opinions. People who don’t share those opinions might be engaged in debate, but a debate that happens face-to-face is a very different kind of debate than the kind that often happens online. So much of Internet debates boil down to people slinging insults, shutting other people down, or overusing the caps lock to make their point. Online discourse is so commonly difficult that if you search “arguing on the internet” you get a slew of images mocking the idea of online debate.7 If online users were exposed to a wider variety of content that challenged their world views, would the nature of online debate change?

Webcomic artist Cameron Davis’ interpretation of online debates. From my own experiences, this certainly doesn’t apply only to men.

The good news is that while content providers and advertisers may not be interested in popping the filter bubble, there are ways that Internet users can lessen the effects that filter bubbles have on their online experience. Pariser’s website, The Filter Bubble, has a list of ten ways to reduce the effect of the filters. These techniques include deleting cookies and browser histories, setting stricter privacy settings, using browsers and sites that allow users to access the internet without providing their IP addresses, and depersonalizing browsers.8 The other helpful thing is to make users aware of the filter bubble. We might be stuck with filters, but if we are aware that they are there and what they are doing to our online experience then we can compensate for those effects and search out information that we might not normally find otherwise. The internet may be a fantastic source of information, but if we do not utilize it properly, what’s the point of having that information source in the first place?

  1. Pariser, E. (Feb. 2011) Eli Praiser: Beware online “filter bubbles”. (Video file). Retrieved from  http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles/
  2. McChesney, R. W. (2013). Digital disconnect: How capitalism is turning the internet against democracy. The New Press: New York.
  3. Pariser, E. (Feb. 2011) Eli Praiser: Beware online “filter bubbles”. (Video file). Retrieved from  http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles/
  4. Hicks, M. (2010, August 6). Facebook tips: What’s the difference between top news and most recent? (Web log post). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook/facebook-tips-whats-the-difference-between-top-news-and-most-recent/414305122130
  5. Pariser, E. (Feb. 2011) Eli Praiser: Beware online “filter bubbles”. (Video file). Retrieved from  http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles/
  6. Ibid.
  7. Though to be fair, this is possibly affected by Google’s filters on my search.
  8. Pariser, E. (2011) Ten ways to pop your filter bubble. Retrieved from http://www.thefilterbubble.com/10-things-you-can-do

The Barnard Zine Library Observation

By smeyer5

The Zine Collection at Barnard’s Wollman Library can easily be found on the far right wall of the first room on the first floor of Lehman Hall. In fact, it’s the whole wall. In June 2010 there were nearly 1,400 zines in this section, the open stacks, with even more in the archives. The collection now has over 4,000 individual issues of zines, even though many of them are awaiting processing and so are not yet fully represented in the catalog or on the shelves. The collection grows regularly and the librarians who maintain it work hard to keep up.

The administration of the Zine Collection takes place on the second floor of the library, overseen by it’s founder Jenna Freedman with the assistance of Stephanie Neel and several interns. The collection was pitched and accepted in the summer of 2003 by Freedman and was awarded an initial materials budget of only $500. From there it took about a year of planning and work to get the zines onto the shelves.

The collection aims to serve the needs of current readers and scholars and those of future researchers. Zines are primary source documents that tell the story of contemporary life, culture, and politics in a multitude of women’s voices that might otherwise be lost. The zines are written by women (cis- and transgender) with an emphasis on zines by women of color, although they collect zines on feminism and femme identity by people of all genders. The zines are personal and political publications on activism, anarchism, body image, third wave feminism, gender, parenting, queer community, riot grrrl, sexual assault, trans experience, and other topics. The aim is also that readers will enjoy the collection simply for its fun, vibrancy, humanity, and artistic value, which it has in abundance. The variety of titles include Sneer, Shotgun Seamstress Fanzine, Wave: A Feminist Zine, Kerbloom!, Licking Stars Off Ceilings and other colorful names. If you’re unfamiliar with zines, the value and strength of this genre of publication is clear when you see it in person, en masse, at the Wollman Library.

Zines had a large underground popularity in the 1980’s and 1990’s through to today after emerging in the 1970’s, mostly out of the U.S. and the U.K. punk rock scenes. The easy and inexpensive means of reproduction by photocopier enabled people to create small print runs of original material at a low cost, which was then distributed primarily at rock concerts, independent bookstores, comic shops, through the mail and other venues. Some publications were (and still are) sold while others are free for the taking, depending on the particular zine. In high school and undergraduate college–far before I knew about Barnard’s collection–I’d read and contributed to zines and always liked the format. Most were hand-made (or hand-made via computer design) and the culture of independent production, creativity of expression/thought attracted me to the format, as I know it did others. My own personal interests drew me to the original comics and literature, underground music and art/photography aspects of the zine genre, although politics and humor overlapped in one way or another most of the time. These topics are all represented in Barnard’s collection.

The zines that are available circulate in the regular library collection and can be checked out by patrons. It may be notable that magazines–the zine’s big-sister genre in many ways–are not circulated. This may have more to due with library policies than anything else but it stuck out to me because one of the main aims of this archive is to make the material widely available. For example, I’m sure I can find most issues of Rolling Stone without too much difficulty but I’d be hard-pressed to find a copy of The East Village Inky from February 2008 many other places without quite a bit of detective work.

If you’re not simply looking through the stacks and want to find specific zines you can find them in Barnard’s CLIO OPAC, cataloged with the Cutter system. The call numbers start with “ZINES” followed by the Cutter number, which is an alphanumeric scheme ordinarily based on the author or main entry. Since there are twice as many zines in the archives and hundreds more that haven’t been processed yet, if there is something in particular that you’re looking for and can’t find it, you’re encouraged to ask for assistance from the Zine Librarian. The small staff does their best to make issues available as quickly as they can but the growth of the collection slows the process. Since the collection’s inception in 2003, zines have become a part of the library budget and donations occur regularly.

What delighted me about the collection is the passion with which it was created and continues to be overseen by Jenna Freedman. Among her other responsibilities, she spends one day a week devoted to adding materials to the catalog. There are also Twitter and Facebook accounts that are used to promote the collection as well as other online resources that can be found. There is a blog about the collection that gets updated frequently on the Barnard Library website and there is also an active Barnard Zine Club on campus. Freedman often speaks at conferences about the importance of zines and has made it her own priority to “put zines on the map.”

The focus of this zine collection is women’s voices, which is clear from looking through it, but the culture of the collection feels more inclusive than that. It may be my own biased opinion from my own previous experience with zines but I felt welcome and intrigued by the archive. There’s a wide spectrum of opinions and the walls of accessibility can barely be felt.

Two Columbia Libraries

By ssheer

For my field observation, I went to two of Columbia University’s eighteen libraries, Butler and Lehman. Butler is Columbia’s history and humanities library while Lehman is a digital center for all forms of spatial data.
First I went to Butler, which has six floors and contains about 3 million volumes. It serves mostly the Columbia community but is also open to New York University students and faculty and to select New York Public Library card-holders through a program called Manhattan Research Library Initiative (MaRLI). MaRLI allows any graduate student NYPL card-holder doing in-depth research to apply for a special card that not only allows them to take home books from the NYPL’s research libraries but from Columbia and NYU’s libraries as well. NYPL card-holders can obtain MaRLI status “by demonstrating that they have exhausted the resources available through NYPL for their projects and need sustained access to the resources of the three institutions.” There is also a Metro program that allows New York metropolitan public library card-holders who cannot find a particular book anywhere else to check it out from Columbia. Columbia University has the fourth largest purchasing expenditures 2011-2012 of any research library in the country.
I interviewed the Butler reference librarian and watched him help a patron. I found out that he had his M.L.I.S. from UC Berkeley and that he was able to get a job as a librarian at Butler because he already had a Ph.D. in English. The librarian told me that sometimes Columbia hired librarians who didn’t have M.L.I.S. degrees, which was an unusual practice for libraries.
The patron I observed him helping was a student at the New York Theological Seminary who needed to know for her thesis paper how much money the government spent on prisoners at Riker’s Island. The librarian looked on the website of the Justice Department for statistics but was unsure where to find what the patron was looking for; he then called another Columbia librarian, who referred him to a third Columbia librarian who was a specialist in government statistics. He gave the government statistics librarian the patron’s e-mail so that she could send her the information later as she was unable to see her right away. Over the phone the government statistics librarian said that the relevant information could be found under the New York City Department of Corrections.
Patrons can write to one of Columbia’s subject specialists with questions the reference librarian is unable to answer. The specialist librarian can either answer their question by e-mail or arrange a meeting for an individual consultation, a service open to both graduates and undergraduates. Butler also includes a digital humanities center that helps patrons with scanning and other software issues. At Avery, Columbia’s art library, there is no reference desk, only a circulation desk which will contact the on-duty librarian with a patron’s question.
After speaking with the reference librarian at Butler I went to the Lehman library, which supports spatial data research for all of Columbia. Lehman employs different specialist librarians to find and manipulate data sources. The librarians must know the GIS software applications that work with express spatial data. Among the librarians at Lehman are the data librarian, who helps with statistical combinations, the government information librarian, the journalism librarian, the business data librarian and the social sciences specialist. The model at Lehman is to bring together specialized consultants in a high-quality laboratory environment. The librarian I spoke to has an M.A. in information science from the University of Texas, Austin and another M.A. in geography from Hunter College; he was also pursuing a Ph.D. Most of the consultants at Lehman have M.L.I.S. degrees, but sometimes the library will hire people with different advanced degrees. Job openings at Lehman are very tailored. There is currently an opening for a data services and emerging technologies librarian, the closest thing Lehman has to an entry-level job. The library would consider hiring a recent graduate from an M.A. program, someone with either an M.L.I.S. or a Ph.D. in one of the social sciences. For that particular position the library would prefer someone at the beginning of her career who has worked in a library environment for a couple of years. The position requires someone who will provide broad-based research support and create programming and support for a wide range of tools. She must be familiar with quantitative research tools and have an aptitude for learning and staying current with a very wide range of emerging technologies. The job opening was posted in the spring and still has not been filled because the library is looking for just the right person; the library is going to repost the job.
The biggest users of Lehman are Columbia graduate students, followed by Columbia faculty and undergraduates. The library also works on a limited basis with students from other institutions. Lehman’s primary purpose is to support quantitative social science research and provide methodological designs for this research. The library does a lot of work with Columbia Teachers’ College helping the students there to find information on different school systems, catchment areas and community studies.
Lehman contains resources on real estate and buildings which can be used to research different neighborhoods. One such application is a “heat map,” or crime map, of Upper Manhattan. Another researcher requested business and census data for Canal Street near Chinatown. On a very different note, one patron needed data for an analysis of renewable energy potential in the Central African Republic.
Both the Butler and Lehman resources provide vast resources for researchers lucky enough to have access to them. Lehman in particular works hard to keep up with the latest technologies in order to facilitate high-quality research. As history and humanities are my main academic interests, I would love to one day work at Butler.

World Building and the Collections in the Art Museum-Library

By alanamhmd

Ada Kolganova and Anastasia Guy note in their paper “Heritage received and multiplied: Russian art libraries as collectors and translators” that museum libraries inhabit an interesting space in librarianship. 1 They function as a kind of secondary research department in tandem with their larger museum. They are often part archive, part library, part museum, part classroom.

I did observation at the MoMA and Poets House libraries, both of which I consider to be art museum libraries. I am considering the Poets House library a museum library in the most general way: it functions as archive (storing important founders documents, including personal libraries, and personal correspondences), library (hosting the largest collection of poetry books, chapbooks, collections, and art books on the east coast), museum (by holding exhibitions from artists such as George Schneeman and acting as a performance space for poets), and research center (by providing resources for art and art criticism.). At the very least, the Poets House library is a specialized library dedicated to putting forth a specific view about poetry and its place in the art world.

It’s important to note that museum libraries are not their own entities, but rather appendages of larger institutions interested in carving out their own niche in the art world. These agendas are similar to the ways Derrida talks about the dualities of archive fever. He says:

…Right on what permits and conditions archivization, we will never find anything other than what exposes to destruction, in truth what menaces with destruction introducing, a priori, forgetfulness and the archiviolithic into the heart of the monument…The archive always works, and a priori, against itself (14). 2

As much as the archive remembers, it also forgets, destroys, and thus, creates new memories and truths. Derrida says this is the character of the archive. Museum libraries function in a similar manner. Their curated collections construct the art world as they wish to define it. These mythologies are something I think Walter Benjamin would understand as political.

What interests me about these two examples is the way they curate their libraries. MoMA and Poets House are both respected institutions in the art world, though I will readily admit that MoMA is probably better known and better funded. That seems to be the case anyway, given how frankly my Poets House guide (and Pratt alum!) Gina Scalise spoke about soliciting donations and new work. Their focus is on amassing a large collection from a number of sources. “The other week I had to catalog a ziplock bag with a cut out slice of pizza and a seed in it,” she told me. 3 I asked to see the conceptual piece, but she said they were still debating where to store it. Scalise says they often receive conceptual material that’s up for debate and they’ve even made a small space for “more fiction-leaning material” in their collection. Poets House gathers its material from prominent presses like Ugly Duckling Presse to smaller one-person operations. Because they accept a large range of material, their organizing system is constantly in flux and, perhaps, not as intuitive as it ought to be. But Poets House aim, at the end of the day, is to amass as much poetry as possible.

MoMA’s library has a more standard fair than Poets House and is split between its Manhattan location and its Queens PS1 location. It includes art history and criticism books, but the Manhattan location also housed books published after the 1940s, catalogs (which it shares with the MoMA Archive) and MoMA publications and special collections. The emphasis of my time at MoMA seemed to be the MoMA publications: art books collaborations between the museum and an artist of the museum’s choice. Several examples were laid out for us upon arrival. Especially impressive was the ten-something foot-long scroll from Yun-Fei Ji, which depicts the chaos instigated by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China. Librarian David Senior said they had to search for a particular printing house in China to realize Ji’s. 4 Their most recent project, soon to be released, is an artist’s book called Tom Tit Tot, which will feature poetry from Susan Howe and artwork from her daughter, R. H. Quaytman.

Along with Senior, several other librarians expressed excitement about MoMA’s publications. The museum was able to fund artist’s works while the library could serve as a place to democratize the sharing of these works. Each work is printed in a limited edition and while the library has a copy or two, most are meant for distribution, with part of the sale funding MoMA’s library and archives. The library and archive are considered separate entities from the museum and thus work within their budget. The artist books produced come in part from donations by The Library Council. The Council is a group of a hundred donors who pay an annual fee of $2,500 dollars and in return receive a copy of the artist book upon completion. “It’s a great way to inspire community and it’s a win-win for everyone,” Senior enthused. 5

I’m interested in the way Poets House and MoMA cultivate ideas of what the art world is. I thought the comparison between Poets House and MoMA was especially salient given that they both primarily deal with artist books, or genre-bending books having to do with art and art expression. I found that Poets House seemed less formal and more community-based than MoMA’s libary. Or rather, Poets House seeks a wider community base than MoMA. Patrons are encouraged to “let it hang out” as Scalise would say, with assorted couches, desks, and several reading rooms to choose from. Some patrons chose to read on a spiral staircase without interruption. In the summer, the space opens up into a garden, where patrons are encouraged to take their reading material. Poets House seems to build more of a user-based world, designed with a purposeful chaos to allow for exploration.

MoMA seemed more exclusive in many senses. For one, everything was very sanitary. There was one reading room with rows of desks and chairs lined one after the other, so that librarians could keep an eye on patrons. I was not allowed to take photos unless I signed several forms. Material is highly regulated because the material is often rare, though reproducible.

And of course, there is the difference in collections. Poets House depends on the populous but small, independent presses, while MoMA’s collection usually utilizes one or two specialized printers for their commissioned books. There is an insulation to MoMA’s curatorial process not present at Poets House. MoMA’s collection curates an art world that is exclusive, sophisticated, and highly regulated. Poets House curates one that is inclusive, candid, engaging, and less regulated.

The importance of an institution’s attempts to define the art world can better be understood in terms of Benjamin’s insistence that art be political in one way or another. MoMA’s focus on the exclusive with its Library Council can be seen as a reproduction of the cult value of art where, “what mattered was their existence, not their being on view.”6 The entire idea of the limited edition underscores the primacy of authenticity and exclusivity; the elitism of bourgeois evaluation of art.

This is not an issue Poets House deals with due to the breadth of its collection. The very nature of their art books is that they are widely available and reproducible. The small publishers they use circulate their books at multiple locations. I would argue that, while MoMA has the ability to reproduce these books, because they tend to circulate material among a select few, they keep artists from engaging a wide audience in the progressive politics of their art. On the other hand, Poets House does not have the means to reproduce its material, but allows the patron more access to the material. Perhaps the ability to take photos of books without the need of forms is a way of returning the power to reproduce back to the patron. This freedom seems to be more in-line with Benjamin’s optimism about the impact of technology on politicizing of art. He says:

One might generalize by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced. These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition which is the obverse of the contemporary crisis and renewal of mankind. 7

Here Benjamin is talking about the way reproduction has the power to be political and to make art political by engaging the masses. Even though we’ve already established that the books at Poets House are easily reproduced by their publishers, I think allowing for patron photography is yet another way to harness the power of reproduction Benjamin talks about. It reinforces the idea of a more community-based, inclusive art world, something that seems more progressive in light of Benjamin’s analysis of art reproduction.

At the MoMA library, Senior seemed proud of the Dadaist-influenced, politically-minded art they have been able to fund. He pointed to Yung-Fei Ji’s piece as a radically subversive work criticizing imperialism and the Chinese government, made even more impressive by the use of a traditional Chinese printing house that had been acquired by the government. But if that message is only circulated amongst a few, how can we call the act of possession radical? Ji’s work seems easily tokenized in this manner, its use a strange echo of the Futurists’ aestheticization of violence Benjamin seems so wary of.

 

 

  1. Kolganova, Ada and Guy, Anastasia. “Heritage received and multiplied: Russian art libraries as collectors and translators.” IFLA General Conference and Assembly in Milan, Italy 2009. 23-27 August 2009, Milan. Accessed from: http://conference.ifla.org/past-wlic/2009/201-kolganova-en.pdf
  2. Derrida, Jacques. “Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression.” Diacritics 25.2 (1995):9-63. Web.
  3. Scalise, Gina. Personal interview. 23 October 2014.
  4. Senior, David. Personal interview. 14 October 2014.
  5. Senior, David
  6. Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Schocken/Random House, 1936. Web.
  7. Benjamin, Walter

Bringing (Un)dead Books Back to Life at Reanimation Library

By SrrhHamerman

Reanimation Library's Reading Room, via reanimationlibrary.org

Reanimation Library’s Reading Room, via reanimationlibrary.org

The shelves of Brooklyn’s Reanimation Library are lined with bowling manuals, guides to Gregg shorthand, outdated biology textbooks, a tech-savvy fitness book called “computercise,” and even a thick tome containing nothing but random series of numbers. Browsing the collection feels more like inhabiting a vaguely retro-futurist cabinet of curiosities than a library in the traditional sense. But through this hybrid library and conceptual artwork, Reanimation Library founder Andrew Beccone challenges us to rethink systems of knowledge and cultural value.

Located in the Proteus Gowanus complex since 2006, Reanimation Library serves primarily as a visual resource to inspire artists and individuals to create new work. Though the collection does not circulate, visitors are encouraged to scan and reuse images that they find – in Beccone’s words, to “pan for gold in the sediment of visual culture.” Among Reanimation Library’s audience are book artists, animators, collectors, writers and students. Beyond Brooklyn, Reanimation installs “branch libraries,” which are temporary, site-sourced versions of the library, at art and cultural spaces as far afield as Lebanon. Additionally, the library invites writers to critically respond to works from the collection on its Word Processor blog.

Reanimation Library started out as an extension of Beccone’s personal interests. A practicing visual artist, he worked in libraries for years and studied library science at Pratt. The collection’s scope reflects his interest in the print and visual culture of the era spanning from the ‘40s to the ‘70s, eschewing high-art texts for vernacular subjects. He delights in the “popular modernism” of this atomic-age visual culture, which seems to promise everyone the possibility of transforming his or her world, even through mundane pursuits. The books function more as artifacts than as texts, giving us insight into the era’s mode of visual/textual reproduction and embodying its cultural mindset. Reanimation Library allows visitors to perform their own “archaeology of knowledge,” gleaning understanding of the past’s (failed) promises through its detritus – and reclaiming its visual potential for the future.

Owing to the project’s focus on generating new work, I asked Beccone how he tracked and displayed the art created in response to the collection. While he originally attempted to include the works in his digital catalog and link them to the books they referenced, this proved to be too much of an administrative burden, even with occasional volunteer help. Also, attempting to meticulously track and record every artwork felt a bit authoritarian – patrons actively share in the project, and once the images enter their hands, they are theirs to transform. The library negotiates an interesting space between private and public collection – in some sense, it’s a portrait of Beccone’s own interests, but he’s offering it up to everyone.

Reanimation Library has drawn an ambivalent reaction from library professionals, perhaps because it calls attention to the materials libraries eliminate through weeding. Collection development policies prioritize currently relevant textual information, often assigning little weight to the visual dimension of the work. In our conversation, Beccone noted that there’s something conservative to the way libraries consider useful information, often de-privileging visual information that’s not easily classified and pushing it away from access. His perspective on the library’s power in determining culturally useful knowledge resonates with Foucault’s definition of the archive:

“[The archive is not] that which collects the dust of statements that have become inert once more, and which may make possible the miracle of their resurrection; it is that which defines the mode of occurrence of the statement-thing, it is the system of its functioning,” (Foucault 129).

While Reanimation Library may aim to make this “miracle” possible once more, it is still, resolutely, a library, with books cataloged according to the Library of Congress system. For Beccone, the choice of Library of Congress was a bit arbitrary – it suited his purposes, and was the classification system he was most familiar with. Still, many librarians have refused to see Reanimation Library as something more than an art project, despite the fact that Beccone embraces the library’s spirit of providing free, democratic access to information.

From Reanimation Library's digital image collection

From Reanimation Library’s digital image collection

The project has received a more enthusiastic response in the art world, where it resonates with recent interests in social practice and relational art. Particularly since the 1960s, the art world has showed a continued interest in questioning hierarchies and breaking down disciplinary boundaries. Artworks such as Marcel Broodthaers’ “Department of Eagles” have emphasized the strangeness of the archive, its gaps and its visual repetitions. Artistically, Reanimation Library has found a community at Proteus Gowanus, a gallery and reading room that hosts residents interested in cross-disciplinary inquiry and collaboration. Its neighbors at the space have included Morbid Anatomy Museum, focusing on art, science, and death, and Observatory, a group of “oddball para-academics” who present lectures and events.

Marcel Broodthaers' fictitious museum, Department of Eagles, 1968

Marcel Broodthaers’ fictitious museum, Department of Eagles, 1968

While Reanimation Library encourages engagement with books as physical and material objects, it also offers a full digital catalog and online collection of thousands of images. For Beccone, print and digital are not mutually exclusive – rather, they offer different modes of understanding and searching for information that can support and mutually reinforce one another. The digital archive allows people outside of New York to access part of the collection, as well as offering a browsing experience that’s distinct from the physical space. However, he has no intent of fully digitizing the collection – because of resource limitations, conceptual intentions, and because this may infringe on fair use.

Beccone finds that many people of the younger generation that has grown up with the Internet have taken a strong interest in the collection, and in book arts more generally. Citing the success of the New York Art Book Fair, he notes that there has been an embrace of print objects and analog technologies, in reaction to the ephemerality and intangibility of the digital. Books have a medium-specific way of conveying information, speaking as much through the feel of their pages and the visual quality of color, ink and image reproduction as they do through their content. While techniques of collage, remix and juxtaposition are nothing new, they are the dominant modes of cultural production in the digital environment.

From 1985 B-horror classic,  Reanimator, which you should all watch

From 1985 B-horror classic, Reanimator, which you should all watch

Reanimation Library’s books may be “dead” in one sense, bearers of bunk knowledge and outmoded cultural trends – but they encourage the mad scientist in all of us to give them life, to make their zombie-like moans reverberate through the cracks in the “official” archive’s walls.

Interested in Reanimation Library? Check out these other alternative library projects:

Work Cited:

Foucault, M. (1972). The archaeology of knowledge. New York: Pantheon Books.

Protected: Lessons from the Lesbian Herstory Archives

By bgavlin

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