GV: You mentioned “media archeology” and I was wondering if you’re referring to any of Shannon Mattern’s work…
RP: Well, she’s one of the smartest people in the world. What Shannon Mattern does that’s super-interesting is she teaches both urban space and she teaches libraries and archives. And it occurred to me after looking at her syllabi — and I know she’s thought about this a lot, but one model for thinking about archives in libraries — you know, Megan was the creator of the specialized taxonomy for this pace, but in a broader sense, collections are cities. You know, there’s neighborhoods of enclosure and openness. There’s areas of interchange. There’s a kind of morphology of growth which nobody’s really examined yet. But I think it’s a really productive metaphor for thinking about what the specialty archives have been and what they might be. [Mattern’s] work is leading in that position. She teaches a library in her class.
We live today with an abundance of “product”—there are more books than readers who want them, as evidenced by the copious piles on remainder racks at our bookstores. It wasn’t always thus, of course. Before the advent of printing, each copy was unique and there were few of them. Printing brought exact copies, but it also brought editions, as printers throughout Europe produced their own versions of texts. One European intellectual of the 1500s, Conrad Gessner, felt a need to gain some control over this tsunami of works; he set out to create a universal bibliography of all works in print, but not all of the various editions of the works. Gessner’s Bibliotheca Universalis was in part a response to what he saw as wasteful duplication among printers, and he hoped that a list of available works would lead them to concentrate on new works rather than reprinting works already on the market (Serrai and Serrai 2005). Here it can be said that Gessner obviously did not understand the economics of the book trade.
In my research I have not uncovered the tipping point that led library thinkers like Seymour Lubetzky and Eva Verona to take up the question of the work versus the edition. Yet somehow between the latter part of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, it appears that the number of different editions in libraries had become burdensome to users. Although it was still essential to distinguish between editions, it also became important to inform the user that a certain group of editions represented the same work. In just a little over one hundred years we had come full swing from presenting users solely with works, then solely with editions, to needing to gather editions back into their work groups.
Given the ongoing and increasing machinization of immaterial modes of production, an attention to the affective nature and labor of technology in life and work and the ways in which it also impacts human subjectivity and gender seems a fruitful new line of inquiry for feminist thinkers concerned with labor issues. If we take up a call to arms to think about life and work and the subjects we wish to become, how might new technologies enhance, augment, or limit our feminist political desires for subjectivities free from domination? In the context of the academic library, how does the disruption of the digital library allow us to rethink and revalorize the subjectivity of the librarian?
Sloniowski, Lisa. “Affective Labor, Resistance, and the Academic Librarian“, Library Trends, Vol. 64, No. 4, 2016 (“Reconfiguring Race, Gender, and Sexuality,” edited by Emily Drabinski and Patrick Keilty), pp. 645–666.
We are careful selectors, nowherenear the “save everything” end of thecontinuum. What’s most interestingto us is to build our own very specificcollection, and in doing so modelways of collection-building that couldbe useful to other people. We wantto embody the idea that everyone canbe their own archivist. If more peoplecarefully chose a collection of evidenceto save, then there would be less ofa need for people to save everything.Libraries like ours can be built byanyone, anywhere. We do have aparticular collecting strategy, but weare just two people.
All new digital services from the government must meet the Digital by Default Service Standard.
All public facing transactional services must meet the standard. It’s used by departments and the Government Digital Service to check whether a service is good enough for public use.
1. Understand user needs
Understand user needs. Research to develop a deep knowledge of who the service users are and what that means for the design of the service.
2. Do ongoing user research
Put a plan in place for ongoing user research and usability testing to continuously seek feedback from users to improve the service.
3. Have a multidisciplinary team
Put in place a sustainable multidisciplinary team that can design, build and operate the service, led by a suitably skilled and senior service manager with decision-making responsibility.
4. Use agile methods
Build your service using the agile, iterative and user-centred methods set out in the manual.
5. Iterate and improve frequently
Build a service that can be iterated and improved on a frequent basis and make sure that you have the capacity, resources and technical flexibility to do so.
6. Evaluate tools and systems
Evaluate what tools and systems will be used to build, host, operate and measure the service, and how to procure them.
7. Understand security and privacy issues
Evaluate what user data and information the digital service will be providing or storing and address the security level, legal responsibilities, privacy issues and risks associated with the service (consulting with experts where appropriate).
8. Make all new source code open
Make all new source code open and reusable, and publish it under appropriate licences (or provide a convincing explanation as to why this can’t be done for specific subsets of the source code).
9. Use open standards and common platforms
Use open standards and common government platforms where available.
10. Test the end-to-end service
Be able to test the end-to-end service in an environment identical to that of the live version, including on all common browsers and devices, and using dummy accounts and a representative sample of users.
11. Make a plan for being offline
Make a plan for the event of the digital service being taken temporarily offline.
12. Create a service that’s simple
Create a service that is simple and intuitive enough that users succeed first time.
13. Make the user experience consistent with GOV.UK
Build a service consistent with the user experience of the rest of GOV.UK including using the design patterns and style guide.
14. Encourage everyone to use the digital service
Encourage all users to use the digital service (with assisted digital support if required) alongside an appropriate plan to phase out non-digital channels and services.
15. Collect performance data
Use tools for analysis that collect performance data. Use this data to analyse the success of the service and to translate this into features and tasks for the next phase of development.
16. Identify performance indicators
Identify performance indicators for the service, including the 4 mandatory key performance indicators (KPIs) defined in the manual. Establish a benchmark for each metric and make a plan to enable improvements.
17. Report performance data on the Performance Platform
Why you should report data and how you’ll be assessed.
18. Test with the minister
Test the service from beginning to end with the minister responsible for it.
I want a feminist writing of the body that metaphorically emphasizes vision again, because we need to reclaim that sense to find our way through all the visualizing tricks and powers of modern sciences and technologies that have transformed the objectivity debates. We need to learn in our to name where we are and are not, in dimensions of mental and physical space we hardly know how to name. So, not so perversely, objectivity turns out to be about particular and specific embodiment and definitely not about the false vision promising transcendence of all limits and responsibility. The moral is simple: only partial perspective promises objective vision. All Western cultural narratives about objectivity are allegories of the ideologies governing the relations of what we call mind and body, distance and responsibility. Feminist objectivity is about limited location and situated knowledge, not about transcendence and splitting of subject and object. It allows us to become answerable for what we learn how to see.
Haraway, Donna. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspectives“, in Feminist Studies, pp. 575–599, 1988.