Saturday, December 24, 2011

A future, fast, cheap and out of control

The end of the year is upon us, and so, like Janus, it's time to take a look backward and take a look forward and see what we can see.

And as if on cue, this week I received two things in the mail that I would say are from our future.

quiet please uni bumpersticker and postcards

The first package contained a bumper sticker and postcards that I had received because I was a Kickstarter backer of The Uni: a portable, open-air reading room for public space.

One of the reasons why I happily supported Uni, was because those responsible for its being were the folks behind the Store Front Library experiment. Like Eric Hellman, also I think the future of public libraries are going to be found within smaller spaces. In fact, I already use my library as a point, instead of a space.

I frequently thought about the Uni this year as I followed the rise and fall (and rise and fall) of the Occupy Wall Street Library. I don't think it was coincidence that the first book to be catalogued in The People's Library was Hakim Bey's T.A.Z : The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism.

The book on The People's Library is still unwritten (but you can help publish it if you donate by the end of 2011) and while much can be said about libraries and the occupy movement, I just want to briefly touch on one particular aspect at the moment: the politics of self-archiving.

My personal interest in this topic is largely about the technology of self-archiving but since a good friend of mine is involved in a really interesting archive project, I'm becoming more aware of the politics of self-archiving and what it might mean in a larger context.

By 2006, there were already several substantial collections of girl zines that had been donated to university libraries, including the collections housed at Duke University and Barnard College . I decided to visit these collections. It was quite amazing to me that a zine produced by fifteen-year-old queer girl in 1994 in a print run of 30 or so copies could find its way, only a decade later, to a rare book library half way across the continent. There’s no history of such girls’ voices being remembered or valued, so how were their zines suddenly showing up in rare book libraries and archives? That’s where this project begins—I was interested in exploring why women of my generation, women who grew up during the second wave feminist movement—had not only carefully collected the documentary traces of their activism and cultural production but were, only a decade later, donating their collections to established archives (The Scholarly Feminist: Archiving with Kate Eichhorn).

After the OWS Library was destroyed by the NYPD, the question of how the library should re-build was raised. This concern was most pointedly raised by  this stream of tweets from Jason Scott of Textfiles, so I decided to capture it in a Storify stream:

I felt obligated to capture that conversation in the moment because I knew that if I didn't I'd never find those lines again due to Twitter's poor capacity to find particular tweets even in the very recent past.

My inability to find my own words prompted me to install a version of ThinkUp months back and I highly recommend it to all. Without it, I wouldn't be able to find the tweet that will lead us to the end of this post.

In July, I shared the fact that I have an affection for the game, Nine-Men's-Morris, otherwise known as Mill. That post was read by Josh Judkins, someone who I've never met, but I have worked with as we were both game-runners for Jane McGongial's Evoke. Mr. Judkins is a Community Manager at Ponoko, a site that hosts "host tens of thousands of user generated product designs, ready to be customized and made into real things with the click of a mouse."  This is the necessary context that explains Josh's response to my post:

(I was able to display this conversation using Aaron's Twitter Viewer. Thanks Aaron!)

Six months later, just in time for Yuletide, I received this in the mail:

nine mens morris

The postal service is transportation; 3-D printing is teleportation.

The future is here and it's in distribution.

No comments: