If y'all wanna read some πŸ”₯, @hugh posted this piece about maintenance and memory on Saturday and I was like "oh this will be interesting!" and then ended up reading the whole thing with my hand over my mouth like "oh damn."

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some pullquotes that don't do it justice...

"it shows such a questionable understanding of both basic library operations and basic software development principles that ITAL really needs to explain how it came to publish it"

"The UK has spent much of the last decade turning its libraries into receptacles for old Tom Clancy novels"

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"Mattern has put her finger on the big question of our time. For GLAM workers, asking "what, exactly, is being maintained?" has thrown up some discomforting answers. Assuming that "preserving the cultural record" is an incontestable good is foolish at best. Whose cultural record? On what terms? In what manner? To what end? Maintenance is politics."

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'The "History wars"; the shrieks about "Cultural Marxism"; the armed Police protecting statues of long-dead military men β€” this is all about maintenance. They're ordering us to keep touching up the gold leaf, and instead we're peeling back the wallpaper to reveal what's underneath. 1/2

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2/2 Preserving culture as memory institutions requires constant maintenance. Tape turns to soup, paper desiccates, hard drives fail. But what, exactly, is being maintained? β€” culture is constantly produced and reproduced, and this requires communities to decide what to remember and what to forget. GLAM workers are in a powerful position to determine what is reproduced through maintenance and use."'

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"Hence the push to remove us. Robots and software don't ask difficult questions. They don't ask whether we should change the date, or pay the rent. They're not interested in Makarrata, or reparations. They don't ask whether ancestors should be repatriated, or how the artefacts came to be locked in a box. They just do what they're told, maintaining the status quo in an endless, self-feeding loop."

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"A world with no workers, no trust, and no privacy, where nothing ever changes. That's the dream of libertarian-capitalists. Let's not give them any more space in our journals or our conversations: they're taking up enough already."

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@platypus such a bomb article -- and it applies to so many fields. Thanks for sharing!


🍬 Part of our immigration dossier before we relocated from Equestria to Earth included the observation that every single text that was lost when the Library of Alexandria burned was only lost because other scholars of the time did not find those words to be worth copying. Fighting entropy is the good fight. 🍬

@platypus I did have fun writing it. Initially it was to be a line-by-line review because that ITAL piece is the absolute weirdest shit (I barely got into it) but then all this other stuff kind of poured out. Guess I had some pent up feelings 😬

@hugh you did but so did we all. It played well on birbsite too. Also I think that while the ITAL thing was just over the top ridiculous, you got into even more deep and important issues and hit on all the feels.

@platypus @hugh the blog post certainly gives me things to think about as I'm building my own data management tools.
I agree, the ITAL article is curious. I started reading the abstract thinking 'Ah, some tools to allow libraries to check out books without needing to involve the librarian directly. Could be useful maybe' but then the biometrics and blockchain stuff...yeah, Fu says more, or less, because they're popular. But then, I'm not sure checking out books is actually that taxing though. Having worked in a library, it's pretty obvious that putting books on shelves and organizing them in the first place is the more costly side of the process.

@2ck @platypus people checking out their own items is also an extremely solved problem. I remember using a 3M machine at my local library like 30 years ago.

Ah, OK. I'm not up on library science. I had never seen/heard of self-checkout at a library.



Yeah no worries! I only have a problem with people not knowing about library technology when they publish articles in professional library technology journals πŸ™‚


@hugh @2ck yeah, most libraries have some kind of self-check option and... I mean at the uni where I work it just requires swiping my ID card. Our community borrowers get special IDs. It's not... it's not a fancy machine it's probably like a solid 20 years old and a little ugly. πŸ˜… but um UX design doesn't require biometrics or blockchain for sure.

@hugh @2ck I'm having some fun at work right now by:

a) proving to some of the old-guard that new web design can actually have all the best features of the old system AND like actually be built in the 21st century and be 20x more useful1


b) proving to some of the newer guard that these old systems really are hella powerful underneath it's the crap design/user experience that's been turning you off them.

Mwahahah I undermine everyone's assumptions!

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