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.
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:
major collection pages (displaying millions of items), many pertaining only to material preserved and posted directly by the Internet Archive, others that include user-uploaded content, e.g.:
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”:
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
Silently, the performers took their places, tucked behind the thick black curtain. The members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, led by director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, quickly flowed into two neat rows in the wings of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater. The stage crew snapped into their positions at the table covered with laptops, monitors, tape and cords. DJ Spooky, aka Paul D. Miller, appeared relaxed, a total picture of cool. Annie, our stage manager ran down the cues. “Take a moment to let your eyes adjust to the darkness… look for the mark at center stage. Oh, and please be very careful not to knock this very important stand of equipment that has been carefully set up by the tech crew.”
Andi Wong, artists Greg Niemeyer and Paul K. Miller at the beginning of their year-long creative process.
After a year of dreaming, scheming and aligning the stars with the artistic team, the big moment had finally arrived. As the Internet Archive’s project manager and coordinator of educational outreach, I had the amazing opportunity to work with DJ Spooky’s creative team for over a year to help put this multimedia experience. The Internet Archive and DJ Spooky’s QUANTOPIA: The Evolution of the Internet was ready to be presented before an audience for the very first time.
The world premiere performance of QUANTOPIA, the first of ten music commissions to receive major support from a Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions grant, would actually happen seven hours later. But, for the record, the very first audience to receive this new work was an audience of public school students and their teachers along with the families of the San Francisco Girls Chorus.
Funding from the Hewlett grant helped the Internet Archive to secure the caravan of school buses and vans that transported students from Visitacion Valley Middle School and Willie Brown Middle School in San Francisco to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater for this special school day performance. The field trip was the first of the year for these students. Some children got off the bus wide-eyed, sharing that they had never ever been to the theater or even this part of town. The visit was a unique opportunity to experience a work of art created by a talented and diverse team of collaborators, artists working together with technologists, drawing from the Internet Archive’s vast repository of knowledge.
The arts, with their unique role in the shaping of personal identity and celebration of diversity, have had an important role in representing the collective culture the Bay Area. The Internet Archive is committed to the monumental task of recording and preserving, who we are and who we are becoming through text, image, sound and code. With this project, DJ Spooky and company learned first hand that the creative arts and technology can come together as equal partners in the pursuit of greater knowledge, with representation and justice for all. The performing arts calls for the audience to complete a circle of dialogue. Could we hold the door open and invite more people in?
In his program notes, Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky points out:
Today, according to the International Telecommunication Union, around 55.1% of the world’s population, more than 3.1 billion people, have access to the Internet. More will be joining in huge numbers over the next couple of years. As we move further into a world that is defined by information and how it shapes and molds all aspects of modern society, the Internet and its ancillary effects have resulted in the most complex systems architecture humanity has ever made.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
A college-age usher later shared that when the music began, he noticed that students seemed a little confused. They leaned forward, listening intently. A look of surprise crossed their faces when they realized the ethereal sounds emanating from the stage were coming from the young artists of the SF Girls Chorus. I wonder if children are now more familiar with the ubiquitous sounds of technology than with the diverse expressive range of the natural human voice.
A moving timeline of media gleaned from the Internet Archive, flashed on the giant screen behind the chorus. Movement I of Quantopia presents the Internet as “a mirror of existing social, commercial and political structures.” Greg Niemeyer’s barcode forest invites the audience to consider the evolution of the Internet through fifty moments of technological, social, political and cultural importance. Imagine learning that the Internet has a history! For middle school students, the history of the Internet is a fait accompli. Most sixth graders were born in 2007—the year that Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone and changed how we access music.
Movement II: Diegesis: Roots, Routes, Rights resurrected the ancient sounds of the dial up modem (which elicited delighted laugh of recognition from the evening crowd). This time, Article 19 was presented in binary code, zeros and ones sung by mezzo-soprano Eve Orenstein. The stage at YBCA lit up with awe-inspiring imagery of effortless complexity made possible by technology, a freestyle tour-de-force performed live from a laptop behind the curtain by Roger Antonsen. The computer scientist from the University of Norway casually described his role as “playing around with worlds,” using nodes and edges to render the birth and destruction of networks.
Later that evening, Internet Archive Founder and Digital Librarian Brewster Kahle and Emiko Ono of the Hewlett Foundation welcomed a sold out house to the World Premiere performance of QUANTOPIA. The lights went down once again. This time the audience was a Bay Area blend of DJ Spooky super fans, students, technologists, YBCA subscribers, city officials, groups from Facebook and Lyft, representatives from Creative Commons, Hewlett 50 artists, and employees of Internet Archive— all ready and willing to experience something new.
One audience member told me, “There was a moment when the visuals, the music, especially the voices and melodies produced by the Girls’ Chorus and the quartet, produced a truly mystical/spiritual experience within the architectural environment.” Equally transporting—the African American spirituals that DJ Spooky weaves through his composition:
Go tell it on the mountain Over the hills and everywhere Go tell it on the mountain To let my people go…
After the performance that evening, Wendy Hanamura, the Internet Archive’s Director of Partnerships, led an audience Q&A session with the QUANTOPIA creative team: Roger Antonsen, Paul D. Miller, Greg Niemeyer, Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Pax of Medium Labs. “If you could embed a value into the code, what would that be?” Hanamura asked. “Justice,” replied Niemeyer.
FINDING A CONNECTION: THE CREATION OF NETWORKS
In the lobby of the theater, we handed out Hewlett 50 Arts Commission Passports which included information on all of ten of the Class of 2017 grantees in musical composition. We encouraged audience members to stamp their passports with Internet Archive’s logo to record their attendance. We created this passport to be more than just a souvenir of a world premiere. My hope is that the passport will encourage our tech-centric audience to explore the nine other Hewlett-commissioned works. Each work of arts presents an exciting world of new ideas and perspectives. You can also enjoy the fun challenge of collecting all of the stamps from each of the Hewlett 50 arts organizations. Gotta get ’em all!
Roger Antonsen stamps his Hewlett 50 passport.
Patricia Kristof Moy of Kohl Mansion will present Jake Heggie’s dramatic vocal-chamber work, based on the true stories of The Violins of Hope, a set of more than 60 instruments, originally played by prisoners in concentration camps and ghetto residents during World War II.
Katherine Bates and Charlton Lee of the Del Sol String Quartet. Their collaboration with composer Huang Ruo, The Angel Island Oratorio, will premiere on October 2020 on Angel Island.
Brewster Kahle and Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky
FINDING A CONNECTION: THE CREATION OF NETWORKS
At the Internet Archive, we’ve created an enduring online archive for QUANTOPIA to openly share and provide access to the work “across all frontiers.” It’s a model we’d like to offer to archive all works of art, which so often include text, webpages, video, audio and other ephemera. We see this as an exciting opportunity to develop new models of collaboration between the arts organizations, artists and audiences, as new works are created and continue evolving into the future.
“LO” a sketch by Greg Niemeyer for the QUANTOPIA timeline.
WHAT MAKES ME LOVE MUSIC SO MUCH?
The audience quieted when the tall young student, KyShawn, stepped up to the mike to ask the final question at the school day performance. He asked DJ Spooky, “When did you know that you liked music?”
The artist took a deep breath before sharing his thoughtful response. He spoke of his parents who were both professors, and his childhood growing up in Washington, D.C., a place filled with the sounds of so many different styles of music. For Paul, music is not just music. Music is information.
We offered our thanks to the students for being such a great first audience and one by one, we left the stage. Behind the curtain, Paul smiled and noted how smart the student’s questions were.
After the Q&A, the children spilled outside into the bright light of day. Some voiced surprise at seeing so many people out and about, having lunch in the gardens or enjoying a stroll. The young people gathered at the edge of the sparkling reflecting pool, their voices ringing with excitement like grace notes over the roaring waters of “Revelation,” the nearby memorial dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Back at school, teachers assigned KyShawn and his classmates to write their reflections on the day. Perhaps KyShawn’s essay captures what we all hoped to achieve over this year: music that inspires; music that creates empathy; music that heals.
WHAT MAKES ME LOVE MUSIC SO MUCH (by KyShawn)
What makes me love music so much is music inspires me.
Even though music exists in all cultures. To me, I love music. It helps me relax and think about others…
Listening preferences are probably the sum of many variables, developing and changing throughout Life. Understanding the sources of individual differences related to musical enjoyment more deeply would also help design more effective therapeutic procedures involving music.
The Internet Archive will be part of a team that is working to address a key challenge for students with disabilities: getting books in accessible formats. This participation aligns with an existing Internet Archive program to make materials available and accessible to readers with disabilities.
The number of students with disabilities at colleges and universities has grown over the past few decades. Many of those students have print disabilities, including the largest subgroup, those with learning differences. Students with print disabilities require text to be reformatted for screen readers, text-to-speech software, or other forms of audio delivery, often with human intervention. Universities are required to perform this reformatting on request but are rarely staffed to do that work at scale and this type of reformatting and remediation can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Once the work has been done for a student at one university, the reformatted book is almost never made available for use by students with disabilities at other universities. Without collaboration and coordination across campuses efforts are wasted and students with disabilities often wait weeks to get texts in a form they can access and use.
A newly-funded pilot project, “Federated Repositories of Accessible Materials for Higher Education,” aims to address this problem. This is a two-year pilot program that has recently been funded by a $1,000,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University of Virginia (as principal investigator) with a primary goal of reducing the duplication of remediation activity across the seve (7) universities participating in the pilot. It will also support the cumulative improvement of accessible texts and decrease the turnaround time for delivering those texts to students and faculty.
Within this program, the Internet Archive will participate as one of several repositories of digitized books, both to provide initial digital copies (for remediation) and to receive and hold remediated book files. Those improved books can then be shared with other schools and organizations that provide services to people with disabilities. They may also be used as a starting point for further conversion into additional formats (such as Braille) that may be needed to support specific reader needs.
The Internet Archive’s role in this pilot project dovetails with our existing program to make materials available and accessible to readers with disabilities. Our current program allows any organization that is already working with people with disabilities, known as Qualifying Authorities, to access the digital files of over 1.8 million books (about 900,000 of which are otherwise unavailable). Those Qualifying Authorities, especially Disability Student Service teams at colleges and universities, are then able to streamline their preparation and remediation of these digital books for people with print disabilities. Because they work directly with individual readers, Qualifying Authorities are also able to enable existing (and qualified) Internet Archive users for an account with disability access. With that access, these users can enjoy expanded and immediate access to the Internet Archive’s full collection of books (through archive.org or OpenLibrary).
We are excited to participate in and support the wider community of teams working to make books accessible for all.
When you visit a public library, you get to meet the librarians and others who build and care for those collections. You know there are people who empty the garbage cans, who put back the borrowed books, who maintain the computers, and who determine what ends up on the shelf.
A digital library, on the other hand, is “just” a web site. You don’t really see the people who build it – we are often anonymous. But the Internet Archive wasn’t built by computers and algorithms.
From its inception, the Internet Archive has been built by thousands of people who understand that we have an opportunity to use the Internet to give everyone access to knowledge. Every person on the planet should have the opportunity to learn and to make a contribution.
This goal – Universal Access to All Knowledge – inspires the people who have built the Internet Archive over the past 23 years.
People clean and repair the buildings that we occupy. People do payroll, choose our health plans, answer the phones, plan our events, reply to user emails, clean up spam, and pay our bills. People design and build the computers that hold the collections. People construct the network that carries data to every corner of the world. People write software that processes, backs up, and delivers files. People design and test and build interfaces. People digitize analog media and type in metadata. People curate collections, establish collaborations, and manage projects.
There’s no way I can mention all of these people by name. Even if I listed every employee from the past 23 years, I would still be missing the volunteers, the people from other organizations who worked on joint projects with us, the pro bono lawyers, the delightfully compulsive collectors, the funding organizations, the idea generators, our sounding boards for crazy ideas, the individuals who have donated money or materials, and the hundreds of thousands of people who have uploaded media into the archive.
Libraries are built by people, for people. Thank you so much to all of the people who have contributed to building the Internet Archive, whether they were employees or our huge group friends and family. We would not be here without you, and we hope you will continue to help bring universal access to all knowledge in the future.