Author Archives: Caralee Adams

Meet the Librarians: Jessamyn West, Accessibility

To celebrate National Library Week 2022, we are taking readers behind the scenes to Meet the Librarians who work at the Internet Archive and in associated programs.


In her work, Jessamyn West is driven by a desire to help people and remove barriers to access.

“When I went to library school, I realized a lot of the things that were important to me lined up with library values,” West said. “Anti-censorship, intellectual freedom, and serving all the people — not just the people who can afford it, not just the people who can make it up two flights of stairs, not just people who can read small print. All the people.”

Jessamyn West

West is living out her values, processing requests from individuals to participate in the Internet Archive’s program for users with print disabilities. She receives emails from people around the world with blindness, low-vision, dyslexia, brain injuries and other cognition problems who need accessible content. In her role, West has helped qualify thousands of patrons to receive materials in alternative digital formats. 

Her qualifying work for the Internet Archive is among a variety of activities that keeps West busy with the Vermont Mutual Aid Society. West works part-time at the Kimball Library in Randolph, Vermont, where she helps adults in her community learn to use technology. She also does public speaking on the digital divide and other technology access issues, as well as writes a monthly column for Computers in Libraries Magazine.

“All I want to do is to get as much knowledge, to the most people, in as easy a way as possible.”

Jessamyn West, Vermont Mutual Aid Society

West grew up in Boxborough, Massachusetts, where she learned about computers from her dad and her mother introduced her to the importance of civic engagement and volunteerism. At Hampshire College, she earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and then moved to Seattle.

In 1994, West enrolled in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Washington. The shift to online information and the emergence of the web was presenting an opportunity and a challenge for libraries, which West said was exciting to be a part of at the time.

Jessamyn West

Her first job after graduation in 1996 was with AmeriCorps at the Seattle Public Library helping adults learn to use computers. She later pivoted working for an internet service provider before moving back East. In Vermont, she continued working with libraries and set up her own tech consultancy. West has worked as a tech liaison for Open Library and has been a qualifying authority for the Internet Archive since 2018

“All I want to do is to get as much knowledge, to the most people, in as easy a way as possible,” West said. “I think it’s important that we have all kinds of libraries. I wouldn’t want a world that was only digital libraries and I certainly wouldn’t want a world that was only physical libraries. It’s really nice that many people, depending where you are, can have access to either or both in the way that makes the most sense for them.”

West maintains a professional website (jessamyn.info), a personal website (jessamyn.com) and blogs at librarian.net. When she’s not working, she enjoys editing articles about  librarians and library topics on Wikipedia, playing pub trivia, creating moss terrariums, and writing postcards.

Among West’s favorite items at the Internet Archive: The Middlebury College collection of Vermont Life Magazine and The Great 78 Project.

Volunteers Rally to Archive Ukrainian Web Sites

As the war intensifies in Ukraine, volunteers from around the world are working to archive digital content at risk of destruction or manipulation. The Internet Archive is supporting several preservation efforts including the Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online (SUCHO) initiative launched in early March. 

“When we think about the internet, we think the data is always going to be there. But all this data exists on physical servers and they can get destroyed just like buildings and monuments,” said Quinn Dombrowski, academic technology specialist at Stanford University and co-founder of SUCHO. “A tremendous amount of effort and energy has gone into the development of these websites and digitized collections. The people of Ukraine put them together for a reason. They wanted to share their history, culture, language and literature with the world.”

Watch:

More than 1,200 volunteers with SUCHO have saved 10 terabytes of data including 14,000 uploaded items (images and PDFs) and captured parts of 2,300 websites so far. This includes material from Ukrainian museums, library websites, digital exhibits, open access publications and elsewhere. 

The initiative is using a combination of technologies to crawl and archive sites and content. Some of the information is stored at the Internet Archive, where it can be discovered and accessed using open-source software.

Staff at the Internet Archive are committed to assisting with the effort, which aligns with the organization’s mission of universal access to knowledge, and aim to make the web more useful and reliable, said Mark Graham, director of the Wayback Machine.

“This is a pivotal time in history,” he said. “We’re seeing major powers engaged in a war and it’s happening in the internet age where the platforms for information sharing and access we have built, and rely on, the Internet and the Web, are at risk.”

The Internet Archive is documenting and making information accessible that might not otherwise be available, Graham said. For years, the Wayback Machine has been archiving about 950 Russian news sites and 350 Ukrainian news sites. Stories that are deleted or altered are being archived for the historical record. 

“We’re seeing major powers engaged in a war and it’s happening in the internet age where the platforms for information sharing and access…are at risk.”

Mark Graham, director, Wayback Machine

Recognizing the urgency of this moment, Dombrowski has been stunned by the response to help from archivists, scholars, librarians involved in cultural heritage and the general public. Volunteers need not have technical expertise or special language skills to be of value in the project. 

“Many people were spending the days before they got involved with SUCHO scrolling the news and feeling helpless and wishing they could do something to contribute more directly towards helping out with the situation,” Dombrowski said. “It’s been really inspiring hearing the stories that people have told about what it’s meant to them to be able to be part of something like this.”

Gudrun Wirtz, head of the East European Department of the Bavarian State Library (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) in Munich, was archiving on a smaller scale when she and other colleagues began to collaborate with SUCHO.

“We are committed to Ukraine’s heritage and horrified by this war against the people and their rich culture and the distorting of history going on,” Wirtz said. “As Germans we are especially shocked and reminded of our historical responsibility, because last time Ukraine was invaded it was 1941 by Nazi-Germany. We try to do everything we can at the moment.”

Anna Kiljas, Tufts University

The invasion of Ukraine hits particularly close to home for Anna Kijas, a librarian at Tufts University and co-founder of SUCHO, who is a Polish immigrant with family members who lived through Soviet occupation following WWII.

“Contributing to the SUCHO effort is something tangible that I can do and bring my expertise as a librarian and digital humanist in order to help preserve as much of the cultural heritage of the Ukrainian people as is possible,” said Kijas. 

The third co-founder SUCHO, Sebastian Majstorovic, is with the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage. 

The Internet Archive is providing technical support, tools and training to assist volunteers, including those with SUCHO, who are giving of their time.

Through Archive-It, a customizable self-service web archiving platform that captures, stores, and provides access to web-based content, free online accounts have been offered to volunteer archivists. Mirage Berry, business development manager for Archive-It, has coordinated support with other preservation partners including the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, and East European & Central Asian Studies Collections librarian Liladhar Pendse at University of California, Berkeley.

“It’s so incredible how quickly all of these archivists have pulled together to do this,” Berry said. “Everyone wants to do something. You don’t need to have a ton of technical experience. For anyone who is willing to learn, it’s a great jumping off point for web archiving.”

SUCHO organizers anticipate after the immediate emergency of website archiving is over, there will be an ongoing need to stay vigilant with data curation of Ukrainian material. To learn more and get involved, visit http://www.sucho.org.

Library as Laboratory Recap: Applications of Web Archive Research with the Archive Unleashed Cohort Program

From projects that compare public health misinformation to feminist media tactics, the Internet Archive is providing researchers with vital data to assist them with archival web collection analysis.

In the second of a series of webinars highlighting how the Internet Archive supports digital humanities research, five scholars shared their experience with the Archives Unleashed Project on March 16. 

Archives Unleashed was established in 2017 with funding from the Andrew Mellon Foundation. The team developed open-source, user-friendly Archives Research Compute Hub (ARCH) tools to allow researchers to conduct scalable analyses, as well as resources and tutorials. An effort to build and engage a community of users led to a partnership with the Internet Archive. 

A cohort program was launched in 2020 to provide researchers with mentoring and technical expertise to conduct analyses of archival web material on a variety of topics. The webinar speakers provided an overview of their innovative projects: 

  • WATCH: Crisis communication during the COVID-19 pandemic was the focus of an investigation by Tim Ribaric and researchers at Brock University in Ontario, Canada. Using fully extracted texts from websites of municipal governments, community organizations and others, the team compared how well information was conveyed to the public. The analysis assessed four facets of communication: resilience, education, trust and engagement. The data set was used to teach senior communication students at the university about digital scholarship, Ribaric said, and the team is now finalizing a manuscript with the results of the analysis.
  • WATCH: Shana MacDonald from the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada applied archival web data to do a comparative analysis of feminist media tactics over time. The project mapped the presence of feminist key concepts and terms to better understand who is using them and why. The researchers worked with the Archives Unleashed team to capture information from relevant websites, write code and analyze the data. They found the top three terms used were “media, culture and community,” MacDonald said, providing an interesting snapshot into trends with language and feminism.
  • WATCH: At the University of Siegen, a public research university in Germany, researchers examined the online commenting system on new websites from 1996 to 2021.  Online media outlets started to remove commenting systems in about 2015 and the project was focused on this time of disruption. With the rise of Web 2.0 and social media, commenting is becoming increasingly toxic and taking away from the main text, said the university’s Robert Jansma. Technology providers have begun to offer ways to stem the tide of these unwanted comments and, in general, the team discovered comments are not very well preserved.
  • WATCH: Web archives of the COVID-19 crisis through the IIPC Novel Coronavirus dataset was analyzed by a team at the University of Luxembourg led by Valérie Schafer. As a shared, unforeseen, global event, the researchers found vast institutional differences in web archiving. Looking at tracking systems from the U.S. Library of Congress, European libraries and others, the team did not see much overlap in national collections and are in the midst of finalizing the project’s results.
  • WATCH: Researchers at Arizona State University worked with ARCH tools to compare health misinformation circulating during the HIV/AIDS crisis and COVID-19 pandemic.  ASU’s Shawn Walker did a text analysis to link patterns and examine how gaps in understanding of health crises can fuel misinformation. In both cases, the community was trying to make sense of information in an uncertain environment. However, the government conspiracy theories rampant in the COVID-19 pandemic were not part of the dialogue during the HIV/AIDS crisis, Walker said.

Archives Unleashed is accepting applications for its 2022-23 cohort research teams. For more information, view the application & instructions: https://archivesunleashed.org/cohorts2022-2023/.

Up next in the Library as Laboratory series:

The next webinar in the series, Hundreds of Books, Thousands of Stories: A Guide to the Internet Archive’s African Folktales will be held March 30. Register now

New Project Will Unlock Access to Government Publications on Microfiche

Government documents from microfiche are coming to archive.org based on the combined efforts of the Internet Archive and its Federal Depository Library Program library partners. The resulting files will be available for free public access to enable new analysis and access techniques. 

Microfiche cards, which contain miniaturized thumbnails of the publication’s pages, are starting to be digitized and matched to catalog records by the Internet Archive. Once in a digital format and preserved on archive.org, these documents will be searchable and downloadable by anyone with an Internet connection, since U.S. government publications are in the public domain.

Sample microfiche card

Seventy million pages on over one million microfiche cards have been contributed for scanning from Claremont Colleges, Evergreen State College, University of Alberta, University of California San Francisco, and the University of South Carolina. Other libraries are welcome to join this project.

The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), founded in 1813, provides designated libraries with copies of bills, laws, congressional hearings, regulations, and executive and judicial branch documents and reports to share with the public. Initially, the documents were on paper but in the 1970s, the U.S. Government Publishing Office began to use microfiche.

“While the new format saved space, the viewing and copying issues were exacerbated, so microfiche was never a favorite of the public,” said James Jacobs, a U.S. government information librarian and member of the Free Government Information organization. “That was one of the main reasons I was excited to have this content digitized. These important publications will be online and more accessible.” 

Once all the documents are digitized, access will be greatly enhanced, and it will allow people to do broader machine analysis of digital content to track larger trends across years of technical reports or agency activity, Jacobs said. 

The collection includes reports from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA, the Department of Interior, and other government agencies from the 1970s to the present. There are also transcripts of congressional hearings and other Congressional material that contain discussion of potential laws or issues of concern to the public, Jacobs said.

 “From water to nuclear energy to frogs, whatever it is, Congress has a meeting and invites experts to talk about the issues,” Jacobs said. “It’s a way for the public to peek into the legislative process.”

Laval University, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Microfiche is not a format that can be easily read without using a machine in a library building. Many members of the public are not aware of the material available on microfiche so the potential for finding and using them is heightened once these documents are digitized. And as the information is shared with other federal depository libraries, there will be a ripple effect for researchers, academics, students, and the general public in gaining access.

“The Internet Archive is looking for more microform donations and currently has the funding, thanks to a grant from the Kahle/Austin Foundation, to transform the cards into digital documents, opening up a rich collection of public documents to a wider audience,” said Liz Rosenberg, donations manager. “The Archive can also cover the cost of shipping and provide a home for microforms that libraries no longer have the space to store and wish to gain digital access.” Learn more about the Internet Archive’s donations program.

With this expanded access to the workings of government, Jacobs said that digitizing microfiche is helping promote the open sharing of knowledge: “You have to have an informed citizenry in order to have a democracy.”

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If your library has microfiche collections that you’d like to donate, you can learn more about the Internet Archive’s donations program through our Help Center. Please contact us with inquiries or when you are ready to start a donation.

In an Ever-Expanding Library, Using Decentralized Storage to Keep Your Materials Safe

Memory institutions know the headaches of storing their ever-expanding physical collections: fire, flood, access & space over the long-term. But storing digital assets presents even more diverse challenges: attacks by hackers, deep fakes, censorship, and the unforeseeable cost of storing bits for centuries. Could a new approach—decentralized storage—offer some solutions? That was the focus of an Internet Archive webinar on February 24. 

The online event was second in a series of six workshops entitled, “Imagining a Better Online World: Exploring the Decentralized Web,” co-sponsored by DWeb and Library Futures, and presented by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).

In the utopian version of decentralized storage, there would be collaborative, authenticated, co-hosted collections. Wendy Hanamura, Director of Partnerships at the Internet Archive, said this would make information less prone to censorship and less vulnerable to a security breach. “Taken together, resiliency, persistence, self-certification and interoperability — that is the promise of decentralized storage,” she said.

Librarians and archivists are a key part of creating a solution that is networked, said Jonathan Dotan, Founder of the Starling Lab, the first major research lab devoted to Web 3.0 technologies. 

“As a community, if we can all come together to guarantee the integrity of information, we’re in a unique position to create a new foundation of digital trust,” Dotan said. “When we think about decentralization, it’s not a single destination. It’s an unfolding process in which we continually strive to bring more and more diverse nodes into our system. And the more diverse those notes are, the more that they’re going to be able to store and verify information.”

Other speakers at the webinar included Arkadiy Kukarkin, Decentralized Web Lead Engineer for the Internet Archive, and Dominick Marino, Senior Solutions Architect and Ecosystem lead at STORJ.

The series kicked off on January 27 with an introductory session establishing some common vocabulary for this new approach to digital infrastructure.

Download the Session 2 Resource Guide 

Register for the next session:
Keeping Your Personal Data Personal: How Decentralized Identity Drives Data Privacy
March 31 @ 1pm PT / 4pm ET
Register here

Google Summer of Code is a Win-Win for Contributing Students and Mentoring Organizations: Thank you Google

Lavanya Singh was eager to write lots of code after her freshman year of college, but she knew it was hard to find a place that would give her a chance. Then she landed a spot with the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) program working at the Internet Archive.

Paired with Mark Graham, director of The Wayback Machine, Singh was asked to create a systematic way to archive news sources from all around the world. 

Lavanya Singh, Google Summer of Code contributor.

“Mark basically gave me that problem and said: ‘Go figure it out,’” she recalls, grateful for the challenge, the tight knit community at the Internet Archive, and the mentorship provided throughout the project. “The Internet Archive really trusts their interns and gives you an opportunity to do huge scale technical projects that are going to be useful in the long run.”

The experience gave Singh skills and confidence that led to other internships and a job as a software engineer, following graduation this spring from Harvard University with a degree in computer science and philosophy.

For 17 years, GSoC has given more than 18,000 students from 112 countries the chance to learn about programming up close. Google selects students (called “contributors”) and matches them with organizations doing open-source projects. All told, the students have created 40 million lines of code since the program’s inception in 2005. It has helped launch careers, like Singh’s, and provided a pipeline of potential employees for the 746 organizations that have participated. Google recently posted its Google Summer of Code timeline for 2022 for applicants for the paid positions, which last 12 weeks.

“It is truly a benefit and service to students. For some, it can be transformational,” said Singh’s mentor, Graham, of the Internet Archive. “But it also helps us. It’s a way to learn about new talent. And it’s a way for the Internet Archive to increase our visibility and demonstrate that we are part of this community of organizations.”  

GSoC provides an infrastructure to match promising programmers with projects that can be difficult to find and is especially relevant now with people working remotely, said Brenton Cheng, a senior engineer with the Internet Archive.

“It’s been an incredible way by which people all over the world can get opportunities to work with companies, creating openings that might not be available to them otherwise,” said Cheng, who has mentored several student contributors over the years. 

Staff assign mini-projects designed to give students hands-on experience and a sense of accomplishment. Students are also included in team meetings, invited to give input and present their work, said Cheng. 

Recent GSoC projects and contributors:

  • Rakesh Chinta focused on building advanced features for the existing Chrome extension for the Wayback Machine (2017);
  • Zhengyue Cheng created a “map” of the web via the Wayback Machine (2018);
  • Salman Shah worked with the Open Library team to modernize and increase the coverage of its book catalog and improve website reliability (2018);
  • Kanchan Joshi improved site navigation for Archive.org (2019);
  • Giacomo Cignoni made a significant contribution with his BookReader Selection & Dark Mode project. He worked to give public domain works the ability to have text selection over the book page images (2020);
  • Tabish Shaikh helped improve the adoption of Open Library with his Adoption of BookLovers project – redesigning the Book Page and making it clearer what services were offered (2020);
  • Nolan Windham worked on the Open Book Genome Project. It centered on the ability for computers and machines to read a book on our behalf, and extract metadata that can then be made publicly useful to the world. Through the process, nearly 10,000 new books were added to the lending system (2021);
  • Xin Yue Chen focused on linking Wikipedia references to Internet Archive books (2021).

“We’re helping to train the next generation of developers,” Cheng said. “On the flip side, we really believe in our mission. Quite often, the people who work with the Google Summer of Code program continue to contribute with us as volunteers or sometimes even become employees.”

It’s a mutual win and an awesome program that has helped a lot of students find connections with companies, added Cheng. The program is a way for young people to show their initiative and is advertised as a way to “flip bits not burgers” in the summer. 

“It’s a chance to contribute to a larger organization and maybe set themselves on a different prospective path to their future,” Cheng said. 

Mek, who leads the OpenLibrary team at the Internet Archive, said the four GSoC students he’s worked with have made substantial improvements through their projects. 

“We were able to make progress in a variety of different areas that we may not otherwise have had the bandwidth to focus on,” said Mek. 

Being involved in GSoC has dramatically increased the number of volunteers who are interested in participating within the Open Library ecosystem. It prompted the Internet Archive to streamline the volunteer page and create an intake form. There has also been an effort to organize and label projects for new volunteers.

The GSoC experience led the Internet Archive to structure its own internship and fellowship opportunities. And it has provided the organization with a means to find qualified staff.

Anish Kumar Sarangi, Google Summer of Code contributor.

Anish Kumar Sarangi, a student GSoC contributor in 2018, joined the Internet Archive as an employee in May 2020. During his summer experience, Sarangi worked on development of the Chrome extension, “Wayback Machine.”  Today it is used by thousands of people to help them archive URLs, access archived content from broken links and perform other functions to help make the web more useful and reliable. 

“I gained a lot of knowledge and experience. Everyone was very encouraging and supportive,” said Sarangi, of the summer program. He now works from India in software development for the Internet Archive and has been a mentor with the program himself. His advice to others considering applying: “Please get involved in the community. You can get guidance and grow further in the organization.”

Library as Laboratory Recap: Supporting Computational Use of Web Collections

For scholars, especially those in the humanities, the library is their laboratory. Published works and manuscripts are their materials of science. Today, to do meaningful research, that also means having access to modern datasets that facilitate data mining and machine learning.

On March 2, the Internet Archive launched a new series of webinars highlighting its efforts to support data-intensive scholarship and digital humanities projects. The first session focused on the methods and techniques available for analyzing web archives at scale.

Watch the session recording now:

“If we can have collections of cultural materials that are useful in ways that are easy to use — still respectful of rights holders — then we can start to get a bigger idea of what’s going on in the media ecosystem,” said Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle.

Just what can be done with billions of archived web pages? The possibilities are endless. 

Jefferson Bailey, Internet Archive’s Director of Web Archiving & Data Services, and Helge Holzmann, Web Data Engineer, shared some of the technical issues libraries should consider and tools available to make large amounts of digital content available to the public.

The Internet Archive gathers information from the web through different methods including global and domain crawling, data partnerships and curation services. It preserves different types of content (text, code, audio-visual) in a variety of formats.

Learn more about the Library as Laboratory series & register for upcoming sessions.

Social scientists, data analysts, historians and literary scholars make requests for data from the web archive for computational use in their research. Institutions use its service to build small and large collections for a range of purposes. Sometimes the projects can be complex and it can be a challenge to wrangle the volume of data, said Bailey.

The Internet Archive has worked on a project reviewing changes to the content of 800,000 corporate home pages since 1996. It has also done data mining for a language analysis that did custom extractions for Icelandic, Norwegian and Irish translation.

Transforming data into useful information requires data engineering. As librarians consider how to respond to inquiries for data, they should look at their tech resources, workflow and capacity. While more complicated to produce, the potential has expanded given the size, scale and longitudinal analysis that can be done.  

“We are getting more and more computational use data requests each year,” Bailey said. “If librarians, archivists, cultural heritage custodians haven’t gotten these requests yet, they will be getting them soon.”

Up next in the Library as Laboratory series:

The next webinar in the series will be held March 16, and will highlight five innovative web archiving research projects from the Archives Unleashed Cohort Program. Register now.

Independent Publisher Drives Innovation, Sells eBooks to Internet Archive

Publisher of 11:11 Press says it sells—rather than licenses—books to libraries for online lending to reach a broad audience.

The goal of 11:11 Press is to have its books in every library in the world, according to its founder and publisher, Andrew Wilt.

Andrew Wilt, 11:11 Press

“We are big supporters of libraries because they allow equal access to knowledge and preserve culture,” said Wilt, whose independent press based in Minneapolis sells its books at a discount to nonprofits. “From a publishing standpoint, our authors care about being read so we want to get our books to as many people as possible.”

The Internet Archive recently bought the entire catalog of books from 11:11 Press and made them available online for controlled digital lending to one person at a time.  

“Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would not want to have their books in a library, especially the Internet Archive, which is more relevant now than it has been any other time,” Wilt said. “It used to be the library of the future. But in our era of remote learning and people working from home, the Internet Archive is the library of the present. You don’t have to go into an actual physical building. It’s available for anyone with an internet connection. It’s probably the most relevant lending institution at the moment.”

“[Internet Archive] used to be the library of the future. But in our era of remote learning and people working from home, the Internet Archive is the library of the present.”

Andrew Wilt, editor, 11:11 Press

In business for four years, 11:11 Press publishes an eclectic mix of titles that Wilt describes as “disruptive literature.” Its authors push the boundaries. Some books have a very heavy, theoretical and academic focus while others are about everyday working people. There are books of poetry, short stories, novels, and hybrid work. The aim is to give exposure to underrepresented voices and offer an alternative from what is produced by mainstream publishers.

“We’re kind of this lighthouse trying to find those people who are actively looking for something that’s new and exciting,” said Wilt.

From the 11:11 Press Catalog

In one of the 11:11 Press “theory fiction” titles, Zer000 Excess, images are “glitching out” within the text, leading the reader to consider what meaning is being created. Jake Reber wrote the book using Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 – the only version of the software with identifiable software features known to produce these “glitches.” Authors like Reber intentionally use these embedded software tools incorrectly in order to get distortion. “Like the early punk bands who put fuzz in their music, we’re trying to add that distortion in the work,” said Wilt.

Human Tetris merges digital dating in an all-too-honest newspaper style of queer dating profiles. It was written as a collaboration between two different voices building a lattice of interlocking online identities by Vi Khi Nao and Ali Raz.

The publisher features “dangerous writing,” which uses fiction as the buffer to draw on personal experience. For authors in this genre, fiction is the lie that tells the truth. “We want to encourage writers to go to those uncharted territories of the self. What you find might be hard to look at, but if you pull back the layers, there’s something unique and beautiful there.” Wilt said.

Jinnwoo (Ben Webb) is a writer, musician, visual artist, and author of the book Little Hollywood published by 11:11 Press. It consists of B-grade movie scripts with paper doll cut outs. The idea is to engage the reader by having them cut out the dolls and use the scripts. “Going to those dark places with honesty encourages the reader to be more mindful, more present, which  leads to more empathy,” Wilt said.

Did you know? Thanks to the innovative partnership between the Internet Archive and Better World Books—our favorite online bookstore—patrons who browse to the 11:11 Press books at archive.org have a direct link to purchase new copies of the books in print via Better World Books.

“Small presses drive innovation.”

In its next catalog, 11:11 Press will be coming out with a 520-page Illustrated Old Testament and corresponding painting. This 9-by-12-inch book, which will sell for $150, is too religious for some and too secular for others, making it a perfect product for a small press, Wilt said. Another upcoming book will be a compilation of short stories by the late Peter Christopher who helped start the dangerous writing movement.

As a small press, Wilt said the focus isn’t to write with marketing in mind but rather for authors to write the stories only they can tell. The hope is for 11:11 Press to create something greater to help benefit society and get people to think in a different way. “Reading authors who courageously face their lives, their past, their future, encourages us, the readers, to do the same,” he said.

Wilt said he anticipates other independent publishers will follow suit in selling their works to the Internet Archive. “Small presses drive innovation. This is where experimentation occurs,” he said. “Our top priority is sharing knowledge.”

The Decentralized Web: An Introduction

Amidst the hype and hoopla for decentralized tech, what should everyone really understand? Providing that baseline of knowledge is the goal of a series of six workshops called “Imagining a Better Online World: Exploring the Decentralized Web.” The series kicked off on January 27 with an introductory session establishing some common vocabulary for this new approach to digital infrastructure.The event was hosted by the Internet ArchiveDWeb and Library Futures, and was presented by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO).

On our current web, most platforms are controlled by a central authority—a company, government, or individual—that maintains the code, data and servers. Ultimately, consumers must trust that those central authorities will do what is in their best interest. 

“In order to have ease of use, we have ceded control to these big platforms, and they manage our access to information, our privacy, our security, and our data,” explained Wendy Hanamura, Director of Partnerships at the Internet Archive, who led the workshop.

In contrast, the decentralized web is built on peer-to-peer technologies. Users could conceivably own their data. Rather than relying on a few dominant platforms, you could potentially store and share information across many nodes, addressing concerns about censorship, persistence and privacy.

“It is still very early days for the decentralized web,” Hanamura said. “All of us still have time to contribute and to influence where this technology goes.”

View the session resource guide.

At the event, Mai Ishikawa Sutton, founder & editor at COMPOST Mag, explained how her publication can be viewed over the decentralized web using IPFS and Hypercore, while using Creative Commons licensing to openly share its contents. In addition, Paul Frazee demonstrated Beaker Browser, an experimental browser that allows users to build peer-to-peer websites on the decentralized web.

Using the current system, Web 2.0, relies on content living on web servers in a certain location. 

“This is a problem because [publishers] want to change it. They want to update it. They … go out of business. They want to merge with somebody. And it goes away,” said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, noting that the average life of a web page is 100 days. The Wayback Machine was built to back up those web pages after-the-fact, but there is a need to build better decentralized technology that preserves a copy as the content is created, he said. “The Web should have a time axis.”

According to Kahle, in the future a decentralized web would look much the same to the user, but could build features such as privacy, resilience and persistence right into the code. It could also create new revenue models for creative works. For example, a decentralized web could enable buyers to make direct micropayments to creators rather than licensing them through iTunes or Amazon.

“This is a good time for us to try to make sure we guide this technology toward something we actually want to use,” Kahle said. “It’s an exciting time. We in the library world should keep focused on trying to make robust information resources available and make it so people see things in context. We want a game with many winners so we don’t end up with just one or two large corporations or publishers controlling what it is we see.”

Download the Session 1 Resource Guide.

Register for the next session:
Using Decentralized Storage to Keep Your Materials Safe
February 24 @ 1pm PT / 4pm ET
Register now

Virtual Gathering Welcomes Creative Works from 1926 into the Public Domain

Free from copyright restrictions, the public can now enjoy unlimited access to creative works from 1926 including A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, classic silent films with Buster Keaton, and jazz standards by Jelly Roll Morton.

A virtual party hosted by the Internet Archive, Creative Commons, and many other community co-sponsors on January 20 celebrated the availability of the newly released material. This year’s festivities also welcomed nearly 400,000 sound recordings from the pre-1923 era into the public domain as a result of the Music Modernization Act passed by the U.S. Congress.

“What a big win for our country, especially for libraries and archives that preserve our cultural history,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) of the newest crop of creative work entering the public domain, including the early sound recordings. “It’s also a big win for our artists, who can now freely use these classic recordings and transform them into new works.” [WATCH the segment with Senator Wyden.]

Wyden has supported groups that advocate for balanced copyright laws that support public access. In the recent federal legislation addressing compensation in the music industry, he pushed back against a provision that would have locked up older recordings for almost 150 years from their publication.

“These restrictions defied common sense, and they would have been a major disadvantage for historians, academics and American cultural heritage,” said Wyden, who helped secure a better deal that allowed sound recordings to be public property each year. “The Music Modernization Act was not our first rodeo, and I’m certain it is not going to be our last. I look forward to working with all of you closely in the days ahead, continuing the fight for balanced IP laws that work for all Americans.”

Meredith Rose, senior policy counsel with Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., said the new federal legislation is a “huge game changer” for libraries. For the first time, sound recordings before 1972 can be made available for noncommercial and educational uses with no restrictions or threat of statutory damages. [WATCH this segment.]

Also speaking at the event was Jennifer Jenkins of Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School. She shared a video highlighting the range of work becoming open this year from Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises to the film “For Heaven’s Sake” with Harold Lloyd and poetry by Langston Hughes. [WATCH this segment.]

“Public domain enables both creativity and access to preservation,” Jenkins said, noting some classic works have been lost to history. “For those that have survived, it’s time to discover or rediscover and breathe new life into them.”

A musical part of the program featured performances by Citizen DJ and Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepard Kings.  There was also an interview with Colin Hancock, a musician and historian who has built his career playing early jazz, blues and ragtime music and using period technology to record it. [WATCH this segment.]

Professor Jason Luther of Rowan University explained how his students research 78rpm records from the early 20th century through the Internet Archive’s Great 78 Project to create podcasts. Two of his students shared their excitement in being able to access these vintage recordings and make connections to artists’ work of today. (Read more about Luther’s project in this blog post.) [WATCH this segment.]

The work of writers, musicians, filmmakers, scientists, painters should be consumed, built upon and enjoyed, said Catherine Stihler, chief executive officer of Creative Commons: “I see the public domain as a gift. A package of time, wrapped in excitement of discovery and revitalization that sheds light on the past and enriches the present.” [WATCH this segment.]

The Public Domain Day event was organized by the Internet Archive and co-sponsored by SPARC, Creative Commons, Library Futures, Authors Alliance, the Bioheritage Diversity Library, Public Knowledge, ARSC, the Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain, and the Music Library Association.

[Cross-posted blog with SPARC]