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Digging the Digital Hole

Are we in danger of losing our digital memories?

Too many of us suffer from a condition that is going to leave our grandchildren bereft. I call it personal digital disorder. Think of those thousands of digital photographs that lie hidden on our computers. Few store them, so those who come after us will not be able to look at them. It’s tragic.

As chief executive of the British Library, it’s my job to ensure that this does not extend to our national memory. At the exact moment Barack Obama was inaugurated, all traces of President Bush vanished from the White House website, replaced by images of and speeches by his successor. Attached to the website had been a booklet entitled 100 Things Americans May Not Know About the Bush Administration – they may never know them now. When the website changed, the link was broken and the booklet became unavailable.

The 2000 Sydney Olympics was the first truly online games with more 150 websites, but these sites disappeared overnight at the end of the games and the only record is held by the National Library of Australia.

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Preserving Greatness with the Kindle

What is the value of a digital, virtual, collectible? Is something really rare and valuable if it can be digitally cloned with no difference whatsoever between the original and the clone?

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Digital Tenure

We love the idea of Digital Tenure.  Writing for electronic publishing should, and must, be considered in matters of awarding faculty tenure at traditional universities.

Data is becoming a first-class object.
In the days of completely paper publication, the article or book was
the end of the line. And once the book was in libraries, the data were
often thrown away or allowed to deteriorate.

Now we’re
in a massive shift. Data become resources. They are no longer just a
byproduct of research. And that changes the nature of publishing, how
we think about what we do, and how we educate our graduate students.
The accumulation of that data should be considered a scholarly act as
well as the publication that comes out of it.

Consider
an assistant professor who has five years of field data. If she could
combine that with five years of data on children from a researcher in
another country, or another ethnic group or DNA strain, think of how
much more powerful their work could be. We can bring these together and
make comparisons on a large scale — these are things we couldn’t do
before.

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Crossing the Uncanny Valley

If you aren’t a member of TED.com, you should be — “TED” stands for “Technology, Entertainment and Design” — and some of the most forward-thinking and brilliant minds appear there to share with you the truths of what they know.

John Q. Walker gives a fine lecture on how he has been able to recreate the great pianists — not performances, but the aesthetic and style of the performer — by digitally discerning finger pressure, pedal movement and their artistic, ethereal, intention.

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The Comcast Triple Play Home Run

I was never a fan of cable modem internet service — mainly because you share that copper wire with up to 100 of your neighbors — but I now recant that condition after experiencing the Comcast Triple Play package overt the last three weeks.  I now have superlative broadband internet access, extensive HD cable programming and digital voice telephony.  My internet connection is so fast up and down that even the Speakeasy Speed Test gets whacked trying to make sense of it as you can see below:

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Facockta Digital Rights Management

DRM or — “Digital Rights Management” for the blissfully unbroken — is a dream stuck in Hell and is also the facockta name Microsoft has branded its media licensing initiative and it means if, like me, you choose to rent your downloaded music, instead of purchasing it or stealing it, your life is currently miserable. 

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Digital Divergence

by Guy Lerner

The camera is becoming almost incidental in the photo-making process. But don’t go throwing away your cameras quite yet – you’ll still need them for the first part of the job, getting the photo. After that, well, that depends on what you aspire to in the brave new world of digital photography, but chances are your camera won’t be of much else use.

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