Sylvia Paull
Oct 24 · 2 min read

Internet Archive Expands Beyond Books and Taco Trucks

The most exciting development at the street party October 23 marking the annual celebration of the Internet Archive, headquartered in a former Greek-pillared church in the Richmond district of San Francisco, was not only the diversity of cultures represented by the food trucks — offering Indian, Vietnamese, and Mexican fare -– but also the diversity of programs the Archive is embarking on. The Archive’s founder and chief archivist, Brewster Kahle, understands that knowledge has no boundaries, so besides scanning books and records, the nonprofit is now recording radio programs generated on stations throughout the world.

The aim of the Radio Archive, which focuses on U.S. radio, will allow researchers to mine data to analyze political memes and propaganda on this medium to gauge better the effect of this (mis)information on public opinion. During a live demonstration of this archive, it was scary to listen to the likes of hate-mongerers like Rush Limbaugh spew lies and cast aspersions on anyone outside his circle of right-wing supporters. I wonder if a Podcast Archive will be next. Certainly, with the increased popularity of the medium, it seems likely that the Archive won’t be far behind in preserving this content, especially since copyright laws haven’t caught up to podcasting yet (or have they?).

The other new projects the Archive announced all are book-bound, including a partnership with Wikipedia, with a “robot” developed by the Archive’s programmers that detects dead links in Wikipedia citations and replaces them with live links; the robot even links book citations to the actual books — including the exact page(s) — in the Wikipedia entry. For this feat alone, the Archive deserves the $80 million Kahle asked the pew-seated Archive worshippers to help raise for this and other projects.

Lisa Petrides, founder and CEO of ISKME, a nonprofit that supports knowledge sharing and collaboration in education, announced a Universal Library Project that would give students anywhere in the world access to any book that is owned and then shared on the project through the Archive’s scanning operation.

The head librarian from Phillip’s Academy — a private secondary school that has educated two American presidents, several foreign heads of state, Nobel laureates, and more — received the annual Archive award from Kahle for donating the library’s distinguished book collection to be scanned by the Archive for the Universal Library Project.

And the CEO of Better Books, a B corp (i.e., “socially responsible”) and one of the world’s largest sellers of used books, announced that it would partner with the Archive to scan the millions of books his business usually tosses in the recycling bin.

Finally, Wendy Hanamura, who heads partnerships for the Archive, presented a new archive for books about the Japanese internment camps during WWII, which was activated partially in response to the internment and separation of immigrant children at the Mexican border with the southern U.S. As she reminded us, a prime reason to archive our history is so that we do not repeat the crimes against humanity the Archive has made sure will not be erased.

Sylvia Paull

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