Stephanie Stillo: Block books are a form of printing, usually a form of hand-printing, in the 15th century. You would carve your image and your text together, because they worked together, and you would carve them into a wood block, in relief. Once you had your wood block you would ink it, and then you would lay paper over it, and then you would press very heavily on that paper, and you would come out with an impression: and you can see that on the back, here. The back of the page is highly texturized, and that’s from that deep impression from the block and from the hand-pressing process.
Barbara Bair: But the trip west was very important, because another way to look at this map is it’s about Whitman’s ideas about manifest destiny and post-war America. He came to see the Civil War as a time of bloodshed and payment for the sin of slavery, and had great optimism about coming out anew from this war and being able to forge a more perfect union, a more perfect place, with more perfect people. He became, ultimately, quite disillusioned in those ideas.
… I was not aware about was what the term ‘state farm’ means. I thought it was an insurance company. So the field notes kept mentioning ‘state farm’, people who were recorded at state farms, and I finally Googled that up, and that’s when the penny dropped that these were actually prisons. It felt a like a very different moment because suddenly there was this dimension of incarceration and race that had been dropped on me, and that brings a whole other set of ethical questions, like “How are these songs recorded?” And so on, and so forth.
David Brunton: We decided to reprocess the old tweets so that we’d have a one-hourly file for each. There were 30,000 hours. We ran 30,000 of our automated collections workflows on these. It broke everything, because it was 30,000, and we were used to doing 12 a day. It was a phenomenal way to learn, “Oh, hey. We’ve got some scale problems that are in our present, not just in our distant future when we add three orders of magnitude onto the scale of something.”
David Brunton: I’ll give an example of a way in which I think it was really positive. When we brought in the historic archive, which is the 2006–2010 gift from Twitter, it was all public tweets. I think there were 20 billion tweets that were spread across a whole range of files. Subsequent to that, the tweets that we got from Twitter were sent to us on an hourly basis, one fil…
However, you may have recently read the sad news that pangolins are extinct. In our focus groups with parents, many of them have said that while Percival’s visit to see the wise old pangolin is an important part of the book, explaining to their children that pangolins no longer exist could make them sad. And we don’t want sad kids!