There is SO MUCH to think about the issue of digital access to information nowadays: on one hand we’ve got issues of copyright and ownership; on the other hand we’ve got the benefits of equalized access to information for everyone with access to Internet. As we discussed in-class when we reviewed digital access to previously-printed materials, there are a few catches to this new economy of information happening through the Web*.
The way I will structure and share my thoughts will be like Miami Ad man Gonzalo Lopez Martí – I will opt for a bulletpoint-oriented narrative.
“The impact of digitized collections on learning and teaching”
— What caught my attention the most about David Harrington Watt was not necessarily what he had to say, but the quotes about the profession he had gathered. These bits, shared with him colloquially, are sometimes more eye-opening about what’s the sentiment of a group of people than the regulated language of research. Some times I think about my conversations with other composers: I learn more from them while having a beer or lunch than in a classroom. My conversations with Dallas about sound have been as enlightening about my relationship with sound as all my composition and electronic music lessons together at Florida International University. My conversations with my friend Darwin, or the times I’ve had lunch with my Maestro, Evis, have taught me more about how to think about music than private lessons on Wednesday from 1 to 2 PM have. I’d say there’s something to be said about the value of physically living in an environment in which everybody is revolving around a certain activity (research, Music, etc.), and this colloquial approach to the activity happening between the agents of said environment.
— The other side of this is that library access is a lot easier today than it was during the speaker’s time (prof. Shanton will say, jokingly, “back in my day…!” :P), and I would like for us to acknowledge that we, new inductees in the world of research, have the opportunity to maximize a lot of time because of electronic access to information. I don’t have to sit next to the periodicals stack to read “Perspectives of New Music,” and this is wonderful. I am able to plan a trip on a weekend before an assignment is due, and still be able to get my work done wherever I am. Hell, I’m typing this at 12:53 AM from my couch. While watching Legends of Tomorrow. Time maximization: 110%.
“International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)” – If you don’t know about this, you’re in serious trouble.
— This neat description of one of our most powerful tools as Music researchers today gives an insight not only into its history and basic way of operating, but a neat feat usually overlooked: its intricate cataloguing process and browsing options for retrieval. Since this tool is digital, music can be organized in ways other mediums (namely, printed) cannot be: When you have a collection of works by one composer, you have to group it a certain way. However, when you’re referencing a hyperlink, you may reference it in many ways – kind of the same thing that happens with controlled vocabulary at the library, just that IMSLP takes you one step further: it gets you to the actual thing you’re looking for. Regretfully, many works and editions are still under copyright and we many not access them with this tool, but still it is good to see we’re heading towards a more comprehensive and more intricate library of music on the web – the fact that the information is maintained by members of the community helps in keeping it relevant, organized, and useful.
Rants about Google initiatives that probably looked great on paper but then died.
— This is the best example of corporate digital initiatives gone wrong. Google wanted to be a leader by creating this digital super library with the help of librarians worldwide but they were left alone… and the project died eventually.
— An unrelated project, Project Gutenberg, had the vision to digitize all PD books, also this is where one of the best anti-spam tools came to be (ReCaptcha): They needed to digitize many books but the OCR scanners got stuck at some point, so a Guatemalan computer scientist (who later created Duolingo) developed a tool that would crowdsource solutions to the words OCRs could not recognize. CLEVER! The solution that would later become ReCaptcha was later acquired by Google. I wonder what’s in it for Google to maintain this service if they’ve killed Google Books – surely many other important pieces of information are being indexed at this point with the help of users who respond to the new ReCaptcha?
— Although Google didn’t really go very far with their noble initiative (and really no matter how many years it was between Google Books’s dawn and twilight, it wasn’t enough), I personally didn’t grasp how many other pieces of 0’s and 1’s were to be archived: Audio, Music, Videos, Audiobooks, TV news, etc. Enter the Internet Archive.
The Wayback Machine: “Can the Internet Be Archived?”
— As I went through the New Yorker article I could not help but notice the rhythm of the text: Jill Lepore went constantly back and forth between planes, as a composer would go back and forth between registers, resolving them one at a time. She discusses the architecture of the Web Archive’s physical building almost with reverence (the temple of information, as Kahle would probably like it to be), the history of the Web Archive (introducing it with a brief history of the Internet), and Kahle’s involvement in efforts of unifying entities in creating all-encompassing archives. We can’t deny there’s a musical element to the way this article is written.
“And the past will be inescapable, which is as terrifying as it is interesting.”
— I wish I could escape some of the pictures I posted on MySpace when it was a thing. Maybe this move towards the permanence of the internet will make us re-think what we share in the future (don’t count on it), although the tone of the article made me think that the Web Archive does not really index social profiles of regular joes as much (I bet and hope they index Donald Trump’s Twitter a few times a day, for the sake of future research in American politics). As much as I wanted to escape the cheesy relationship things I posted back then, I do wish I wouldn’t have lost the music I posted in MySpace though. Some of my earlier experimentations with creating music posted in there were, at the very least, interesting for me to trace growth.
— Ever since I learned about the Wayback Machine a few years ago, I was fascinated with the concept: an archive of every website created in the history of the internet (since 1996 as I now know). Whoa.
— These lines really got to me: “We were so young then, and the Web was so young,” Berners-Lee told me. “I was trying to get it to go. Preservation was not a priority. But we’re getting older now.” Made me think of how we behave when we are younger, indestructible know-it-alls who have all their energy placed on the present and little concern for the future. When we mature a little bit more, then we start giving some more thought to our legacy: “what’s going to stay behind when I’m gone.” At least this is how I feel. Idk.
— Herbert Van de Sompel has a point when he mentions that “a world with one archive is a really bad idea:” let us reflect on what happened to the great Library of Alexandria. Thank you.
— Something tells me this archive will serve a much larger and much better-defined purpose in the future. I bet Copland didn’t save his manuscripts thinking “hey! Maybe one day the Library of Congress will create a collection to tell the history of our country through song!” Same here: we don’t know which research will be impacted by this, but we know that this will come in handy when researchers of the future start referencing the information published on websites today.