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Daily Archives: July 21, 2021

The True Cost of Acquisitions

An Archivist’s Toolbox – Words & Illustrations by Mary Kid: “Earlier this year, I read an article titled Hail the Maintainers. The authors, writing on the rise of Silicon Valley, argue that too much value is given to innovation, rather than the labor involved in maintaining the technologies resulting from it. “Maintenance and repair, the building of infrastructures, the mundane labour that goes into sustaining functioning and efficient infrastructures, simply has more impact on people’s daily lives than the vast majority of technological innovations,” the authors assert. That is worth a deeper dive. I drew parallels between this sort of technological maintenance labor that the authors described, and the day-to-day tasks performed by library and archives workers, especially within and in support of special or research collections. Coincidentally, I read this article while involved in two projects where I developed calculator tools that can measure the impact of a single acquisition in terms of staff capacity and associated supplies, transportation and labor costs. These calculators give evidence to the lasting impact acquisitions, both large and small, can have over an entire department. In addition, they offer a way forward for institutions to take informed steps towards more sustainable collection development. The Maintainers made me think about whether there were words or concepts commonly used within special collections like “innovation” that similarly obscure the lived realities of workers’ experiences. The word I honed in on was “donation”; as in, “an acquisition that was donated to the archive”. This word connotes something as free-of-charge to the recipient, which in the case of acquisition donations could not be farther from the truth…”

These wildfire tracker maps show smoke, hot spots, and air quality by zip code

Fast Company: “Now that midsummer is synonymous with out-of-control wildfires, researchers and government agencies are putting out impressive online mapping systems to help people understand their peril. As California, Oregon, Washington, and other states brace for another devastating wildfire season, fire mapping has improved substantially since last year. Here’s where to bookmark…” Continue Reading

Here’s how to check your phone for Pegasus spyware using Amnesty’s tool

The Verge: “Amnesty International — part of the group that helped break the news of journalists and heads of state being targeted by NSO’s government-grade spyware, Pegasus — has released a tool to check if your phone has been affected. Alongside the tool is a great set of instructions, which should help you through the… Continue Reading

What Is Legal Innovation?

Sandberg, Haim, What Is Legal Innovation? (March 17, 2021). 2021 University of Illinois Law Review online 63, Available at SSRN: “Technological progress, along with the economic success it brings innovators, has transformed technological innovation into an object of admiration. The law supports and regulates technological and creative innovation in other fields, but is law… Continue Reading

How TikTok’s Algorithm Figures You Out

The Wall Street Journal Inside TikTok’s Highly Secretive Algorithm: “The Wall Street Journal created dozens of automated accounts that watched hundreds of thousands of videos to reveal how the the TikTok algorithm knows you so well A Wall Street Journal investigation found that TikTok only needs one important piece of information to figure out what… Continue Reading

Justice by Algorithm: Are Artificial Intelligence Risk Assessment Tools Biased Against Minorities?

Conklin, Michael and Wu, Jun, Justice by Algorithm: Are Artificial Intelligence Risk Assessment Tools Biased Against Minorities? (June 30, 2021). Available at SSRN: or “This is a review of Katherine B. Forrest’s new book When Machines Can Be Judge, Jury, and Executioner. The book does an excellent job discussing issues of fairness and… Continue Reading