71,716 video tapes in 12,094 days

On November 4, 1979 Marion Stokes began systematically video taping television news and continued for more than 33 years, until the day she died. The Internet Archive is now home to the unique 71k+ video cassette collection and is endeavoring to help make sure it is digitized and made available online to everyone, forever, for free.

Ms. Stokes was a fiercely private African American social justice champion, librarian, political radical, TV producer, feminist, Apple Computer super-fan and collector like few others. Her life and idiosyncratic passions are sensitively explored in the exceedingly well reviewed new documentary, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, by Matt Wolf. Having premiered last month at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, the film is on tour and will be featured at San Francisco’s Indefest, June 8th & 10th. For those in the Bay Area, please consider joining Internet Archive staff and leadership at the 7:00pm June 10th screening. Advance tickets are available now, seating is limited.

Long before many questioned the media’s motivations and recognized the insidious intentional spread of disinformation, Ms. Stokes was alarmed. In a private herculean effort, she took on the challenge of independently preserving the news record of her times in its most pervasive and persuasive form – TV.

Background Materials, Resources & Reviews

Input
Marion Stokes and her future husband John Stokes appear in and helped produce Input, a weekly panel discussion series on the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia that ran from 1968 through early 1971. It addressed a remarkable range of timely social topics, some far ahead of their time.  Panelists included diverse thoughtful scholars, activists, clergy and others.  Some had already made recognized accomplishments. And some would only later make their profound contributions to civil rights and social justice.

Pete Seeger was already a well known political folk singer when he appeared in February 1970 on a panel with a prison warden and recently released inmates discussing the nature of incarceration and criminal justice reform. Here he is sharing his song “Walking Down Death Row” on the program.

John Fryer was a Philadelphia psychiatrist. Here he is on Input in January 1968 discussing contradictory social norms. Five years later, Dr. Fryer would give a speech, in disguise, at the American Psychiatric Association annual convention. Introduced as Dr. Anonymous, he announced “I am a homosexual. I am a psychiatrist. I am a member of the APA,”  He went on to decry the prejudice directed toward gay people by the Association and social institutions.  Dr. Fryer’s brave and bold call for reform is credited as galvanizing his peers in 1973 to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

William Davidon was professor of Physics at Haverford College. Here he is in a December 1968 Input episode, discussing the nature of television as a means of manipulating an uninformed public. 27 months later he would take an action of great social consequence and his role would remain secret for the next 43 years. In 2014, the book The Burglary posthumously revealed Dr. Davidon as the leader of a group that in 1971 broke into the FBI field office in Media, PA. They were never caught. The 8-member team stole, and released to the press, an enormous trove of documents that revealed COINTELPRO. It was the FBI’s then 15-year long covert, and often illegal, domestic surveillance program to disrupt, discredit and destroy American civil rights, anti-war and other social activist organizations and leaders.  Included in the documents was evidence of the FBI’s attempt to induce, via blackmail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to commit suicide. The release of the papers lead to significant additional revelations by journalists and Congressional investigations, which prompted substantial reform.

Personal Journals
Ms. Stokes was a committed diarist, note taker and list maker. Under the leadership of archivist Jackie Jay, The Internet Archive has been digitizing the contents of 55 bankers boxes of her papers that include her personal journals, magazines, newspapers, civic organization pamphlets, leaflets and handbills. Some of her earliest (1960 & 1961) hand-written journal entries are now publicly available and can be viewed here. More will be added as they are scanned and QC’d.

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project” Documentary Reviews & Press

Matt Wolf’s remarkable Recorder uses Stokes’ recording obsession as a way to explore both Stokes herself and the world she literally committed to video tape. The results are fascinating, weird, and often quite moving.” – Indiewire

Intriguing from first minute to last… Relating this stranger-than-fiction tale with the narrative twists and turns of a well-paced thriller, Recorder will make news junkies feel a lot better about themselves.” – Hollywood Reporter

One outstanding offering in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is Recorder, which reveals the secret greatness of a reclusive activist… An information revolutionary, Stokes, despite her decades of isolation, touched the nerve center of the times.” – The New Yorker

Recorder is more than just a portrait of a woman’s complicated relationships and obsessions… Recorder quietly seeds damning observations about the ways media narratives are formed, and how the shapers of these narratives distort the truth and our worldview.” – Flixist

Stokes’s archival work is unprecedented; a time machine back to the advent of the 24-hour news cycle covering historical and cultural events that otherwise would have been overlooked” – The Outline

But Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project is not just — or even predominantly — an essay film about the media. What makes the documentary so fascinating is the parallel it draws between restoring an archive and retrieving a life.” – Filmmaker Magazine

…rarely do we experience the passion and purpose of a methodical collector, who really made a difference. Matt Wolf’s masterful documentary, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project takes us into the visionary psychic and cluttered physical worlds of a woman who turned her acquiring fury into a unique archive of contemporary history.” – Helen Highly

But maybe the real value of the Marion Stokes Project is that starting close to 20 years before the digital age, it reveals how the news was going to evolve into an addiction, one that had the power to displace whatever subject it was ostensibly about. For even if you’re obsessed with the inaccuracy of TV news, it has still entrapped you, like a two-way mirror that won’t let you see the other side.” – Variety

The story of Marion Stokes inspires and challenges us to consider our world and the legacy we can create through dedication to our own ideals and principals.” – 2019 Maryland Film Festival

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Projectmanages to capsulize Stokes’ efforts and present them as a springboard for a greater conversation on the societal effects of the media, and what we can accomplish given the right resources and individual determination.” – Film Threat

Data, it is said, is the new oil. A woman named Marion Stokes knew this early on and believed that freedom was inextricably linked to data and facts because with it one can make informed decisions. So she took what is seen as a curious and radical approach to feverishly create massive archives of what used to be the prime source of such data, television news, in a time when no one else would.“ – Forbes

This story is beautifully told, inspiring, and is a constant reminder that everything we hear is not always the whole truth.” – Irish Film Critic

Much like Stokes’ archives, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project is a cautionary reminder that, now more than ever, we need to be scrutinizing who is shaping the breaking news we consume.Cinema Axis

Marion had fought a quixotic but worthy battle against the tyranny of transience.” – New Statesman

The first ( November 2013) press article on the Marion Stokes TV Archive [note: early estimates of collection size were off by a factor of 2]
The Incredible Story Of Marion Stokes, Who Single-Handedly Taped 35 Years Of TV News – Sarah Kessler


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Ethics In Technology – Community Night and Comedy Show Friday June 21st, 2019 at 6pm

Politics got you down? Looking for a new way to digest ethical quandaries? Feeling like you need some laughter in your life? Have we got the event for you!

Come join us at the Internet Archive for an Ethics In Technology – Community Night and Comedy Show, presented by former Amazon executive and entrepreneur Vahid Razavi, author of “Ethics in Tech, or The Lack There of and Age of Nepotism“.

Enjoy cutting edge performances by a tour de force group of comediennes; Francesca Fiorentini, Chloe McGovern, Annette Mullaney and Abigail See.

In addition, Brett Wilkins will be presenting: Bugsplat: Can Technology Really Make War Less Deadly for Civilians? There will be a showing of the film “Drone” directed by Tonje Hessen and Bob Chandra will give a short talk on the commercialization of military weapons.

Get Tickets Here

$14.00-$25.00

Friday, June 21, 2019

6:00 pm Doors Open – 7:00 pm Program

Internet Archive

300 Funston Avenue San Francisco, CA 94118

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The Mueller Report, Searchable and Accessible on the Archive

Last week, the American public finally got its hands on the Mueller report–more than 400 pages, much of the text redacted, detailing the special counsel’s much anticipated findings.  Within minutes of that release, many copies of that file were uploaded to the Internet Archive. On Amazon, other outfits were charging $7.99 for an EPUB of the report. At the Internet Archive we made the Mueller Report searchable and downloadable. And free.

The government initially released the document in a PDF format which renders it like an image, impossible to search. When PDF files are uploaded to the Archive, we automatically run them through an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process. This turns those images into text, making it much easier to move between sections and search for specific words or phrases. This allows journalists and the public to more easily parse through volumes of information contained within these massive documents. It also has the added benefit of making the text EPUB friendly, which makes it easily viewable on mobile devices, and accessible to our low-vision communities.

We have the tools that empower people to share and discover public domain documents like government reports. Thanks to our community members who moved quickly to upload copies, the world can now search, share, download or read a mobile-friendly version of the Mueller report for free.

For a free copy of the OCR’d version of the Mueller Report, visit: https://archive.org/details/mueller_report_20190422


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A “Brave” New World

Micropayments on their own, like raindrops falling into a river, seem pretty insignificant. A half a penny here. An eighth of an ether there. Yet slowly and consistently, they accumulate over time. And they can catch you by surprise.

A couple of years back, the Internet Archive signed up to be a Brave ‘creator’. Brave, the web browser that prides itself not only on its speed but also its commitment to privacy and security, launched a program where anyone with a website can get paid by its users. So if you install Brave and spend time on archive.org, you can express thanks in the form of a tiny tip, right there in your browser.

Two years ago, this seemed like a fun experiment. A way for the Internet Archive to support a like-minded tech organization, and at the very least, try out something new. This experiment, turns out, has amounted to something far more significant. And worth sharing.

Last week, we hooked up our cryptocurrency wallet to our Brave creator account. Those tiny micropayments that Brave users had tossed into the Archive’s virtual tip jar had accumulated, growing into more than 9k Brave Attention Tokens (BAT) – the equivalent of $2500 USD!

This was an unexpected windfall. It was also proof that the current web, the one that’s driven by ads that know our every move, doesn’t have to be the web of the future. There could be a better way that’s secure, private and supported by its citizenry. To all of our Brave browser tippers, we thank you. Every little bit makes a big difference.

If you use Brave and would like to tip the sites you love, learn how here.

If you publish content on the internet, here’s how to become a Brave creator.

Thank you, Brave, for your push into micropayments to find alternatives to advertisements. And thank you for including Internet Archive early in your program in such a way that we have earned $2,500.


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Official EU Agencies Falsely Report More Than 550 Archive.org URLs as Terrorist Content

CORRECTION: This post previously identified the sender of the 550 falsely identified URLs as Europol’s EU Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU). The sender was in fact, the French national Internet Referral Unit, using Europol’s application, which sends the email from an @europol.europa.eu address. The EU IRU has informed us that it is not involved in the national IRUs’ assessment criteria of terrorist content.

The European Parliament is set to vote on legislation that would require websites that host user-generated content to take down material reported as terrorist content within one hour. We have some examples of current notices sent to the Internet Archive that we think illustrate very well why this requirement would be harmful to the free sharing of information and freedom of speech that the European Union pledges to safeguard.

In the past week, the Internet Archive has received a series of email notices from French Internet Referral Unit (French IRU) falsely identifying hundreds of URLs on archive.org as “terrorist propaganda”. At least one of these mistaken URLs was also identified as terrorist content in a separate take down notice sent under the authority of the French government’s L’Office Central de Lutte contre la Criminalité liée aux Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC).

The one-hour requirement essentially means that we would need to take reported URLs down automatically and do our best to review them after the fact.

It would be bad enough if the mistaken URLs in these examples were for a set of relatively obscure items on our site, but the French IRU’s lists include some of the most visited pages on archive.org and materials that obviously have high scholarly and research value. See a summary below with specific examples.

French IRU’s mistaken notices:

At least 550 archive.org URLs were falsely identified by the French IRU in the past week as terrorist propaganda, including:

Again, these examples are only a few of the some 550 falsely identified URLs. The erroneous reports continue to be sent to us by the French IRU (the most recent example was sent a day prior to this post).

French OCLCTIC mistaken notice:

The OCLCTIC emailed us a take down notice a few days ago (April 8th) identifying an item making commentary on the Quran as including “provocation of acts of terrorism or apology for such acts”:

https://archive.org/details/002Baqarah_201712

The report stated that blocking procedures may be implemented against us if we did not remove the content in 24 hours. This URL was also on one of the lists that the French IRU reported to us.

Thus, we are left to ask – how can the proposed legislation realistically be said to honor freedom of speech if these are the types of reports that are currently coming from EU law enforcement and designated governmental reporting entities? It is not possible for us to process these reports using human review within a very limited timeframe like one hour. Are we to simply take what’s reported as “terrorism” at face value and risk the automatic removal of things like THE primary collection page for all books on archive.org?

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Boston Public Library’s 78rpm Records Come to the Internet: Reformatting the Boston Public Library Sound Archives

Following eighteen months of work, more than 50,000 78rpm record “sides” from the Boston Public Library’s sound archives have now been digitized and made freely available online by the Internet Archive.  

”This project and the very generous support and diversity of expertise that converged to make it possible, all ensure the Library’s sound collections are not only preserved but made accessible to a much broader audience than would otherwise ever have been possible, all in the spirit of Free to All.” said David Leonard, President of the Boston Public LIbrary.

In 2017, the Boston Public Library transferred their sound archives to the Internet Archive so that the materials could be reformatted digitally and preserved physically.  Working in collaboration with George Blood LP, using their specialty turntable and expert staff, these recordings have been digitized at high standards so that others can use these materials for research.  This is now the largest collection within the Great 78 Project, which aims to bring hundreds of thousands of 78rpm recordings to the Internet.

The records within BPL’s collection represent early twentieth century music and sound recordings from both popular and obscure artists.  78s were made from shellac, a resin secreted from female beetles, and are incredibly brittle and delicate; records can break from simple handling.  Digitizing these records is therefore the best way to preserve not only the music on the recordings but also the original artifact itself, ensuring the continued availability of the resource into the future.

After the recordings were digitized, volunteers with the Internet Archive and the Archive of Contemporary Music linked the sides to published discographies using a mix of manual techniques and custom algorithms to find dates and context.  As a result of these activities, more than 80% of the sides now have dates or links to contemporaneous reviews. Additionally, more than 250 have been matched to sheet music and displayed alongside the music, based on the digitized collections from Connecticut College.  

The inclusion of discographies was an important component of this project, providing users the necessary historical context for the recordings. CashBox Magazine was digitized and contributed by the Earl Gregg Swem Library, located at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.  David Seubert of the University of California Santa Barbara contributed database exports to aid matching against UCSB’s Discography of American Historical Recordings. University of Toronto made print discographies available for research in this project.

As a result of project activities, more than 750 different labels are represented in the collection, spanning from 1901 to 1966. Highlights of the collection include early American jazz and blues recordings, such as 11 sides from the renowned Paramount Records, originally founded by the Wisconsin Chair Company.

At an event at the Boston Public Library last month, Brewster Kahle, the Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, presented the digital files from the 50,000 sides to David Leonard, the President of the Boston Public Library. With the return of the digital files, BPL was able to unlock  access to the materials in a form that won’t damage the originals, ensuring the long-term viability of the 78s and the music recorded on them. The project was featured on-air during the Boston Public Radio program the next day, including samples from the recordings.

How can you get involved?

The Internet Archive invites other individuals and institutions to participate in this program by:

  • Uploading your digitized recordings;
  • Contributing metadata and context to the recordings;
  • Donating 78rpm records to the Internet Archive, where the they will be preserved and digitized as funding allows (and funding for mass digitization is now available);
  • Digitizing your 78’s with the same careful but cost-effective technologies from George Blood LP and then contribute the digital files, but retain the physical discs.

We would like to emphasize that “reformatting” library collections by donating the physical objects to the Internet Archive can be a model for cost effective modern access and physical preservation.  To learn more about library reformatting, please contact Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries.

This project was funded by the Kahle/Austin Foundation.


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Google Plus (or Minus) and the Ephemerality of Community

At the end of this month, on April 2nd, Google will shut down what they called the “consumer version” of Google Plus, their fourth major foray into building a Social Network. The deadline had been the end of the year but was moved up due to a number of cited factors, including data breaches.

When a seismic event like this happens in the online world, especially involving one of the “Tech Giants”, there’s a lot of e-Ink spilled about the money involved, the comparison of markets and post-mortems of performance. However, only a sliver of that coverage tends to mention the social and cultural costs involved.

In fact, to hear it often stated, also-ran social networks are almost like the embarrassing outfit you wore in school or a bad hair day – something we all experienced, but don’t want to talk about.

However, recording and preserving The Web has been our mission for 20 years, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned – it’s that it’s never as simple as “old is terrible, new is good”. In fact, some of the oldest materials of the Web, in all their lower-resolution, lacking-fidelity forms, are also our most emotionally connected and meaningful, due to the passage of time.

On Google+, and before them, on Geocities, FortuneCity, and many others, there’s always been a question who exactly the services are for. Are they meant to be general purpose shared albums of notes, photos and birthday announcements? Or are they places of assembly, where like-minded folks or families gather to communicate and debate, argue and reconcile? The answer, it seems, can often be whatever advertisers want, but in fact it often ends up being a little bit of everything to everyone, and the longer a given service or network exists, the more drift of purpose it will experience.

The biggest difference between “then” and “now” in the eyeblink of Web History is primarily storage and speed. Geocities, at its peak, may not have exceeded 10 or 15 terabytes of data at any one time. Google Plus, however, probably exceeds Petabytes. Choosing to “back up” or make a Wayback-machine compatible snapshot of these places turns into a choice of how much of the Internet Archive’s budget should go towards holding them. Ideally, the answer would always be “all of it”. But sites are getting larger, the shutdown time frames smaller. It’s a constant concern.

Also, when spending this much time and effort to mirror a site, another consideration is how “unique” the material is on it. Were these sites used to share already-available media we could get at other services? Or were special conversations and creations living on the closing site that we will never see again?

Throughout the history of our online times, experts and keepers of special knowledge will share what they know – be it on mailing lists, image boards, ‘groups’ or ‘clubs’. For many, from 2011 to this shutdown year, Google Plus worked to make it easy to be one of those destinations. Time will tell how much might be lost, and how much efforts to mirror it have saved.

Posted in Announcements, News | 27 Comments

Coming this Summer: The First DWeb Camp

Join us for the first ever DWeb Camp at a private farm one hour south of San Francisco.

How do we build a better Web? The Web we want, the Web we deserve? A Web with no central points of control?

Since 2016, we’ve been calling this the Decentralized Web (DWeb for short) and now we are inviting everyone who wants to imagine and co-create that better Web to join us this summer at one of the most beautiful spots on Earth.

The Internet Archive is hosting a community-built event: DWeb Camp from July 18-21, 2019. Or come early and stay late if you want to help build the camp with us: July 15-22, because that’s when the fun begins. DWeb Camp is all about connecting: to your deepest values, to the community around you, and to the planet. Can we come together to imagine and  co-create the technologies, laws, markets and values for the societies we want to live in? REGISTER NOW to attend this first-of-its-kind-event.

We’ll be camping at a farm that’s just a ten-minute hike to this beach, with streams, forests, and trails all around the adjacent private property.

WHERE:  We’ve reserved a private farm one hour south of San Francisco and one hour west of San Jose. It’s surrounded by 600 acres of pristine, untouched coastal land: beach, forest, stream. Once you register, we’ll send you the exact location.

The Farm will rent you a bell tent, cots, and bedding if you don’t have gear of your own.

HOW WILL IT WORK:  bring a tent and sleeping gear, or if you need one, you can rent a tent and bedding from the Farm and they’ll have it set up for you when you arrive. These 5-meter bell tents are big enough for 3-4 people, so invite your friends and share. RVs are welcome too.

All your meals will be covered in the cost of your ticket: healthy, locally-sourced food, some grown on the Farm itself. You should plan to bring all the extras:  snacks, drinks, wine, s’mores, coffee. We won’t be serving alcohol, but it’s BYOB. Bring enough to share! We’ll set up some DIY coffee/tea bars, or you can set up a tent and host your own lounge.  

Galileo Kumavais builds his first decentralized city at the Decentralized Web Summit 2018.

WHO’S INVITED:  DWeb Camp is family-friendly, so you can bring the kids. For the kid in all of us there will be plenty to do from morning yoga, picking berries, watching the sunset on the beach, hiking up a local stream—plus we’ll have kid-friendly activities going on as well. But every child under 18 needs to be accompanied by a parent at all times—no babysitting provided.

Are you a coder, lawyer, artist, activist, armchair philosopher or all of the above, working to create new ways to connect to and through technology? Ready to get your hands dirty and build something new from the ground up? Love to camp, cook, hack, hike, and connect with the great outdoors? Then DWeb Camp may be for you.

Since we’re still working out the kinks, we will be limiting DWeb Camp to 500 people this first year. Sorry, but that means no daytrippers, latecomers, or unregistered drop-ns allowed.

The Farm has a variety of structures to adapt, share, and co-create within. From 44′ domes, a dance floor, and workshop rooms to raw spaces we can shape together.

WHAT’S THE GAME PLAN?  DWeb Camp is a community-built event, so it will be what you make it. We supply the land, some shelter, nourishing food, power and the rest is up to you.

We hope you’ll bring your own project, share your knowledge, launch a conversation, host a tea lounge, offer massages, lead a creative class. The sky’s the limit. Enlist your friends to come and help. Members of the Farm will be creating spaces for meditation, yoga, music making, nature walks, beach hikes, regenerative farming, star gazing, and more.

Imagine what you could build in here?

The Farm has limited connectivity to the internet and little to no cell service. Volunteer teams are setting up a local mesh network throughout the Farm so we can communicate and work offline with the decentralized tools you bring. We’re looking for DWeb communities to build services on top of the mesh.

Why is this important? Because a truly Decentralized Web would work in places where there is limited to no internet connectivity or restrictions due to cost or censorship. The DWeb Camp is a perfect opportunity for us to make local messaging, mapping, websites, and file storage work with community-managed infrastructures in the wild, where we can all be builders and users of our decentralized technologies. Visit our Mesh@DWeb Camp GitHub to get involved now!

HOW CAN I CONTRIBUTE?  Here are the GitHub repositories where we hope to co-organize DWeb Camp with you! Our goal is to make this a volunteer-run event in the future and leave behind a trove of knowledge for others. If you prefer to share information in places other than GitHub, we’ll be publishing a new website with more information in mid-April, and in the meantime, you can always email us at dwebcamp@archive.org with your ideas!

By mid-April, we’ll have a process in place where you can see some of the projects that others are proposing and find ways to pitch in. Better yet: propose your own! Our goal as organizers is to make sure you have a place to land to create magic—but you’ll need to bring just about everything else, just like when you camp!

WHAT KIND OF ENVIRONMENT CAN I EXPECT? The environment is beautiful but raw. California’s northern coast is often shrouded in fog, with temperatures ranging from 72 to 53 degrees. Natives of this area say it never rains here in July, but don’t expect to be diving into the ocean without a wetsuit! You’ll want to bring layers of clothing, and shoes suitable for hiking.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?  The true cost for this 4-day camp is $800 per person. We know that’s a lot of money for some, and not that much for others, so we’ll be offering a sliding scale to register, from $200 for students to $1200 for highly resourced professionals who want to sponsor someone else. Kids under 12 come for free.

There will be some limited financial aid and a committee will evaluate each person on the basis of need.

The Farm is also renting 5-meter canvas bell tents with cots and bedding for $400. Put together a group and share! There’s a $100 parking fee if you want to bring your RV.

(For the ultimate non-camper, there is a lodge with suites, cabins, and glamping tents just ten minutes away. But you’ll have to make arrangements on your own.)

WHAT IF I VOLUNTEER?  Volunteers who work three 4-hour shifts (12 hours) during the Camp can qualify for a 50% rebate on their ticket price. Those who come for the Build/Strike days (July 15-22)  and contribute three 8-hour shifts (24 hours) can qualify for a 100% rebate. Volunteer slots are limited and we’ll post a way to apply in mid-April.

What will happen when you put 500 committed people in a beautiful, natural, ocean-front space? We hope to leave you inspired. Recharged. Connected. Grounded. Ready to change the world.

Sign up here for updates.

Questions?  Help us plan by filling out this simple form.

Interested in being a DWeb Camp Sponsor? Contact Wendy Hanamura at wendy@archive.org.


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The #SaveYourInternet Fight to Protest Article 13 in the EU

The final vote on the Copyright Directive in the European Parliament is expected between the 26 and 28 March. As we explained previously, one particular provision, known as Article 13, would lead to upload filters being required on most Internet services. The proposed law has only gotten worse over the months of debate, and many in the EU and across the globe are concerned that this will lead to censorship even of legal content. The #SaveYourInternet fight has one last chance to prevent this law from taking effect. If you are an EU citizen, the most effective thing you can do is to call your MEP and ask them to vote against Article 13. Real world peaceful protests are also planned throughout Europe. Go to savetheinternet.info/demos to find out where your nearest demonstration is. Those of us outside the EU can support this effort on social media using the #SaveYourInternet hashtag.

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After 50 Years, Riley Shepard’s “Encyclopedia of Folk Music” is Finally Available

By Stacya Shepard Silverman

Growing up, my father worked night and day on a massive project which he called The Encyclopedia of Folk Music. Dad’s desk was in the middle of whatever small place we rented, if indeed rent was ever paid. His desk was the center of our household universe, piled high with papers, a Corona typewriter, stacks of reference books and sheet music, his ashtray over-flowing with cigar butts.

As a kid, I believed The Encyclopedia was going to make Dad famous, and he told me we’d have loads of money when it was published. He said he was listing thousands of folk songs in detailed entries. There would be nothing like it, or so I was told; the most complete collection of folk songs in existence, and he was the person to put it all together, having been a singer and songwriter back in the day, long before I was born in 1965.

Because my father couldn’t read music, a musician named Joe Tansman spent countless hours creating sheet music for Dad, he was at our house so often he became family. Unfortunately, Joe was never given attribution for his work, as far as I can tell.

Several years into the project, things went haywire. My mother said Dad sold The Encyclopedia to Billboard Magazine, but he couldn’t bring himself to give them the work. He kept the advance, using the money to rush us out of town.

When I was twelve, a man called the house calling my father a crook, and said he’d invested his life savings and wanted to be paid. That same year, more bad news: Dad said somehow his index for The Encyclopedia had been mysteriously burned and he’d have to start again, although there was no fire in or around our house. There was always a wacky reason why The Encyclopedia wouldn’t be published anytime soon.

Stacya Shepard Silverman

Fast forward: I’m an adult trying to piece it together. My father died in 2009, and his encyclopedia isn’t with the rest of his papers. I began looking into things I was told, songs he said he wrote and his many pseudonyms. Recently I tracked down an older copy of The Encyclopedia a couple had invested in back in 1970. I knew by this time the work would never be published. I loved my dad and we were close, but I became obsessed with fact checking him, which started while he was still alive, and continues to this day.

Last summer, I pitched this complex story to NPR’s “Hidden Brain” podcast, and an episode was created based on decades of my research. They interviewed my contacts including a half-sister I met in 2011 (one of many children my father had abandoned). While “Hidden Brain” was in production, I purchased the 1970s copy of The Encyclopedia which became part of the story the show crafted.

Being featured on a popular podcast gave me a lucky break, I was contacted by Internet Archive. David Fox, Development Director, and Jeff Kaplan, Collections Manager had heard the show, and Jeff reached out to me, wondering if I’d be interested in having the work scanned. Brewster Kahle, the founder, approved the pro bono scanning of the work.

On my 54th birthday, 10 years after my father’s death, I took my copy of The Encyclopedia to Internet Archives and gave it to Jeff and Brewster. It’s hard to put into words the closure this gave me, knowing that at least after all the twists, turns and broken promises, Dad’s early copy will be online for people to use at no cost. I was told by Jeff Kaplan that he’d already found an obscure song in The Encyclopedia and performed it with his duo. I wish I could have been there to hear it!

There’s the last version of The Encyclopedia, which has mysteriously vanished. The boxes full of my father’s work were supposed to go to The Buck Owens Museum, but may have ended up in some unknown person’s storage. I’ve yet to track it down. That missing copy has more entries, and would take months to scan. But for now, I’m going to pause to enjoy the memory of my best birthday ever. Thank you to Internet Archive and all the wonderful people who made this happen.

Posted in Announcements, News | 3 Comments