Notes: Databases, preservation, and cultural media

November 20th, 2010 |

Database and Narrative, Cultural Memory, Archiving social networking databases, Archiving historical data, Presenting a digitized facsimile—limited, Music

“Knowledge work and cognitive tools”

Underlying framework for databases, systematized semantic and non-semantic data, musical database

“generative tools”—taking snips of data, combining them in unforeseen ways

How do you decide what’s expendable? What do we archive? What do we include and leave out?

Example: Subway maps

Old subway maps were “true to the line” and now they’re lines and dots. The latter makes more sense to people, can this be mimicked in other databases and interface?

Does this approach “dumb down” the archive?

Perhaps not, if we consider that the database remains the same but the interface changes.  Those interfaces can be built with different kinds of needs in mind—different interfaces to the same database.

Representation Systems vs. Interaction Systems

How can it be represented? How can I interact with it?

Epistemic activities: Knowledge-based activities

  • Example: For music, three epistemic activities: creation, audiation (contextualization of sound data), interpretation

Dumb networks and dumb archives

Building dumb archives with intelligent interfaces, try to make the archive as dumb as possible. Then, build multiple interfaces and recognize that each is singular.

Problems with siloed data

How do we build archives that balance funding, resources, contemporary research goals, possible future research goals.

Experts and hobbyists—tapping both resources

Using gaming and captcha to help with archives.

TED Talk: “The Game Layer on top of the world”

Is it sensible to work on the archive prior to the structure of the experience for the user?

Laying bare that which was kept scarce before.

“Owners” of data can return to claim things, and then what happens to the tools and interfaces that we’ve built.

The inability of drawing a distinction between the “wired” and the “unwired” worlds

Big Take Away:  Creating dumb databases (archive as much as possible without thinking that we’ve archived everything)

Conversation shifted to:

Hacking Social networks, games, using games to make political arguments, using games to incentivize certain activity: Cow Clicker


Alexander Galloway—Protocol

Lessig—The Future of Ideas (Creative Commons)

Richard Lanham—The Economics of Attention

Tim Berners-Lee—Long Live the Web (

Searching Facebook’s public timeline:

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