Sunday, June 13, 2010

Proposal: Independent Digital Preservation Laboratoria

I had discussion a few days ago with sound artists Tengal, Erick Calilan and Cris Garcimo, about how the published works the late Dr. Jose Maceda (contemporary composer and ethnomusicologist) were either out of print or scattered in journals, many of which had ceased to exist. Of course, this is the case with the writings of almost all Filipino scholars, theorists and writers. The conversation grew like a rogue yahoogroup on Erick's facebook wall, with digressions about the books we had, books we were reading, books we wanted to read. At some point I proposed that the solution would be an independent, crowdsourced digital preservation program. Digitizing books could even be a social occasion, a weekly get-together where groups of people could chip at the massive problem around potluck, coffee and conversations about the books and the field that concerned them. The sessions could even bear fruit in more writing that might be uploaded, or passed around. It could happen in somebody's living room or even a sympathetic cafe, using a DIY bookscanner like one of the ones pictured at the source of the photo above:, founded by Daniel Reetz. (They even have their own scan correction software!)

I like this notion of independent workshop-socials, social rituals yoked to creative/cultural/cultural healing activities. I was thinking that people generally found band rehearsal, sports and Bible study perfectly credible 'independent workgroups' but that the list of activities seemed remarkably few. I was thinking that although these days 'laboratory' means 'a room set aside for scientific work,' it's roots come 'laborare,' the Latin word for labor, and laboratory literally just means 'place of work', or 'workshop'. What would it take for people to see it as a perfectly credible option to create original laboratoria, maybe take pride in the arcaneness/obscurity/outlandishness of their laboratorium?

"We're Ugnayan, an independent laboratorium working on the digital preservation of Dr. Jose Maceda's writings. "
"Kami naman ang Vocodex, we're studying the DSP applications of the Fast Fourier Transform. "
"Wala 'yan sa laboratorium ng lolo ko!"

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