Monday’s Link Roundup.

In this Monday’s Link Roundup don’t miss When Data Disappears. A thoughtful piece on the preservation of digital data. And for lovers of graphic design check out The Language of Graphic Design. If you’re near the Smithsonian this summer, you’ll want to see Little Pictures, Big Lives.

  • The Lost Art of Postcard Writing. “The terrific thing about postcards was their immense variety… Almost every business in this country, from a dog photographer to a fancy resort and spa, had a card. In my experience, people in the habit of sending cards could be divided into those who go for the conventional images of famous places and those who delight in sending images whose bad taste guarantees a shock or a laugh.”
  • The Language of Graphic Design. “Visual communication, like all communication, relies on a sophisticated and deeply encoded language to relay its message …The Language of Graphic Design: An Illustrated Handbook for Understanding Fundamental Design Principles offers fluency on a beautiful silver platter by dissecting the building blocks of this language and examining its ABC’s — definitions, functions, and usage — through visually-driven case studies spanning the past 100 years.”
  • Little Pictures, Big Lives: Snapshots Of American Artists. “Whether you’re on vacation or stay-cation this summer, chances are you’re taking pictures. Smartphones make picture-taking easier and more popular than ever. But in earlier years, photography was more of an event. At the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, an exhibition called “Little Pictures, Big Lives” shows snapshots from the 1920s through the ’60s. And many of the people in these photos happen to be some of this country’s greatest artists.” [Thanks to cj madigan of Shoebox Stories for alerting me to this item.]
  • NPR: On Memoir, Truth and ‘Writing Well’. “William Zinsser, author of the classic guide On Writing Well, talks to Michele Norris about the challenges of writing personal history. He says that since the 1990s, many memoirs have focused on victimhood, rather than forgiveness.”
  • When Data Disappears. “…if we’re going to save even a fraction of the trillions of bits of data churned out every year, we can’t think of digital preservation in the same way we do paper preservation. We have to stop thinking about how to save data only after it’s no longer needed, as when an author donates her papers to an archive. Instead, we must look for ways to continuously maintain and improve it. In other words, we must stop preserving digital material and start curating it.”
  • Letters of Note: Many times I have kissed and cryed over this. “Here’s a fascinating missive written to Charles Darwin in 1839 by his wife, Emma, shortly after the inception of his theory of evolution, in which she openly worries about his dwindling faith and, midway through the letter, asks him not to be blinded to the possibilities of things “which if true are likely to be above our comprehension” whilst consumed by his scientific pursuits. Darwin’s reaction is illustrated by his incredibly touching note at the foot of the letter, added some months later.”
  • History stitched in flour sacks. “Nancy Jo Leachman has a talent for reading old flour sacks. And oh, the stories they tell.Valuable American history lessons are stitched into the simple pieces of cloth used to hold flour from the late 1800s up until the 1960s. Leachman gives presentations centered on her own flour sack collection interwoven with fascinating tidbits about the history of Kansas, the nation’s breadbasket and leading hard red winter wheat producing state.” [Thanks to Stefani Twyford of Legacy Multimedia for alerting me to this item.]

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5 Responses to Monday’s Link Roundup.

  1. This weeks roundup was particularly interesting to me. I especially loved the postcard and flour sack articles.

    “When data disappears” hit home with me. It provided a slightly different way of approaching our digital data.

    • @Michelle Goodrum. Thanks for your comment, Michelle. The postcard article was a favorite of mine too. It would be interesting to build a personal history around someone’s collection of postcards received over the years.

  2. I agree with Michelle – a particularly rich collection this week. I was struck by two points in the article on when data disappears: 1] the need to shift our thinking from preservation to curation and 2] the question of what data is worth saving, when we generate 1.8 zettabytes of information a year. The thing is, we have no idea what information will be valuable to people 50, 100, 500 years from now.

  3. Can’t argue with that! He’s one of your national treasures.

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