Missing One of the Points

I am not a breathless proponent of the "wisdom of the masses" meme (the "mean meme"? And, yes, I am aware that I have a Freakonomics link--those guys actually mine the data instead of trusting in it's "wisdom"). Still, I think that Jonathon Keat's Wired article "File This Under Data Overload" not only misses the point of digitization, but, because of the human-interest angle, misses one of the purposes of an archive.

Of course, no matter how the system evolves between now and 2011, one module it won't encompass is Mr. Taylor. While Lockheed's design prototype emphasizes intuitive access for users ranging from amateur genealogists to career paper pushers, no software on the market today or in the future is likely to have the veteran archivist's idiosyncratic expertise, his intuitive grasp of the collection's contents.

I am a HUGE fan of archivists, but digitizing these materials will enable an entire range of archivists to apply their own expertise to these archives. Limiting close scrutiny to meatspace shuts out an endless amount of possible experts from inhabiting the archives. There is nothing preventing institutions from hiring people who are digital archives experts. Harvard could hire one. UT Austin could hire one. I suspect that there will be amateur archivists who become experts in negotiating this mass of data. The interconnectivity could enable people to create new knowledge networks as well as interface filters that enable all sorts of Vannavarian pathways through this huge archive.

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