Archives + Blogs = ???

When I went to the Society for American Archivists conference, one of the reasons I was invited was to be a positive presence and advocate for librarians (and by extension, archivists) using blogs, or at least paying attention to them. Many people told me “you think librarians don’t use technology, wait til you meet archivists!” I think there is a lot of competitive jostling in the multi-way tie for last place for “getting” technology in some of the helping professions, but as always, people are doing some neat things to sovle the problem.

Mark Matienzo, who I saw at SAA and at Library Camp and managed to not say hello to, has a few neat thoughts and widgets. First, a post at hig blog The Secret Mirror about how he selects and thinks about archive blogs. This is particularly interesting, because Mark is the maintainer of the ArchivesBlogs site which aggregates the content of blogs by and for archivists. It’s also noteworthy as a resonse to this post by Thomas Lannon, himself an archivist, in which he blogs about disliking blogs. How meta! Food for thought, as always.

I have witnessed how blogging tends to suck the life out of people as they turn from multidimensional humans into single-minded RSS feeds. Blogging deserves a large amount of criticism even from those who do partake in it, as a technology it rests on flimsy foundations of emerging, changing tools and only a slim representation of people find time to write them. Constructive criticism is just and no matter how much I think blogging is purile, I still can’t help from posting these silly notes.

3 comments for “Archives + Blogs = ???

  1. 02Oct06 at 12:42

    Not *all* archivists are anti-blog. Witness the National Library of Scotland planning to create an archive of blogs, journals and e-mails written by leading Scots!

  2. 11Oct06 at 10:30

    For the record, I am not anti-blog, nor I do not blog about disliking blogs. I blog for reasons which many others blog; practicing writing, thoughtful expression, attempting communication and possibly defeating boredom. Please note my questioning the role of blogs, or new technology in archives was itself a response to Matienzo’s Archivesblogs and not the reverse. Archivesblogs is one way archivists might arrive at ‘blogs,’ however there must be many more! Blogging is a service to communities and by nature is most resonant when more people pay attention to the network.

    See: Michael H. Goldhaber’s The Attention Economy: The Natural Economy of the Net

    It is important to note that my comments had nothing to add on debates over archiving blogs. What I put up on a blog is neither fixed nor permanent. The electronic fibers carrying the message are transient ether. This ‘unfixedness’ of blogging in its electric form is what gives the technology the power to immediacy but also its weakness in impermanence. I was startled to discover that this blog debate made it all the way to the esteemed librarian.net, showing how blogs are indeed “meta” — insofar as they are electric echo chambers of like-minded people coming to the repeated realization of their fascination that other people are currently seeking similar answers to similar questions. It recalls the classic math word problem of permutations, where 9 people can form 36 handshakes. Blogging then might be seen an infinite territory of permutations of the interested, and this comment box as just one of those unknown number of possible handshakes.

    Goldhaber writes “We are living a temporary attention economy in miniature right at this moment.” My thoughts on blogging are what can or should be included in potential archivist networks? What is worth our attention and what is not? It is my smallest of hopes that asking this question is equally, or hopefully more important than reading the 50 (and growing) blogs of people in a similar profession.

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