4 Creative works are cyborgs

Nothing we make is truly original. All creative work is inspired by something, draws from something, builds on something. As Tiago Forte says in the tweet below, creative work is assembled. Philosophically, assemblages are component parts brought together in a way that is fluid (not fixed). Donna Haraway uses the metaphor of [[cyborgs]]1 or “making kin”2 for assemblages: you bring together things that might not otherwise fit together instead of resolving the tensions between them....

May 26, 2022 · 2 min · jay l. colbert

5 Metadata work is a sensual experience

Interacting with information in any capacity triggers sensual responses and resonances in our bodies and minds (which are also our bodies). Metadata workers describe and organize knowledge and information. This requires tuning in to those pleasurable or otherwise sensual reactions as organizing principles. I’ve come to think of the body as a computer, taking in more data from more sources than we could ever consciously consider. Our emotions are a vast subterranean intelligence, drawing on not only our senses, but the genetic memories of our ancestors and endless layers of communal thought....

May 26, 2022 · 1 min · jay l. colbert

1 Archival silence is a problem when its purpose is oppression

Those in power and who hold capital will destroy, distort, and otherwise purposefully not collect information and create metadata about those they wish to silence and remove from any sort of historical record. the unintentional or purposeful absence or distortion of documentation of enduring value, resulting in gaps and inabilities to represent the past accurately.1 sprouted from archival silence [[@archival silence]] Dictionary of Archives Terminology ↩︎

May 25, 2022 · 1 min · jay l. colbert

1a Archival silence is a good thing when its purpose is protection

Having silences in our archives is good when people would be put in danger or have their privacy violated otherwise. parent 1 Archival silence is a problem when its purpose is oppression See my presentation Describing Absence The Complicated Power of Metadata Surrogates in Libraries and Archives for specific examples and scenarios.

May 25, 2022 · 1 min · jay l. colbert

1a1 Archival silence is a tool

Rather than being necessarily good or bad, archival silence is a tool. We should know when to wield it and when to fix when it happens. parent 1a Archival silence is a good thing when its purpose is protection

May 25, 2022 · 1 min · jay l. colbert

1b Not all knowledge systems will hear archival silences the same way

Not every culture, group, or community is going to have the same knowledge management, knowledge transmission, or knowledge organization systems as the dominant library/archival science framework. There are oral traditions of music transmission, there are Tibetan Buddhist practices that are only shared between lama and student in an unending lineage back to the Buddha, there are traditions where information is only shared within that group. parent 1 Archival silence is a problem when its purpose is oppression

May 25, 2022 · 1 min · jay l. colbert

2 Metadata surrogates have more value than what they are surrogates of in a capitalist society

In a capitalist society, governments and corporations construct surrogates of us from the data they mine. And in a capitalist society, that data surrogate is more “real” and has more value than we do because it makes them money. Therefore, it is not always a bad thing to have silences in our collections. Sometimes, those silences are necessary. See 1a Archival silence is a good thing when its purpose is protection

May 25, 2022 · 1 min · jay l. colbert

2a Metadata surrogates are inherently arborescent

Metadata surrogates are the descriptive record which stands in for the “original” item being cataloged. In this case, the “original” item would be the seed and the surrogate would be what grows and branches out from that original item. The surrogate is a representation of the original item. In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari name arborescence or the model of the tree as the paradigm for knowledge and practice in the modern Western world; in this model, a small idea—a seed or acorn—takes root and grows into a tree with a sturdy trunk supporting numerous branches, all linked to and traceable back to the original seed....

May 25, 2022 · 1 min · jay l. colbert

2a1 Metadata surrogates are the tree trunk instead of the end of a branch

When constructed by others in order to exploit us, the metadata surrogates of ourselves are the seed or original instead of being the thing that grows from and represents the original item. parent 2a Metadata surrogates are inherently arborescent

May 25, 2022 · 1 min · jay l. colbert

3 My transsexual body is a metadata record

If metadata is the sum total of what can be said about any information object at any given time, then the bodies of trans people undergoing medical forms of transition are living, always-changing metadata records. They are the information object, and they are also what can be said about the information object. My transsexual body is a catalog, a finding aid, of every testosterone injection I have given myself in my thigh, of the parts of my body I have willingly destroyed to create something better in their wake, of the process of teaching myself to shave my face (which is way different than shaving your legs, it turns out), of the ways my sexuality changed, of the hours of speech and movement therapy I did, of the fact that I’m still afraid to use gendered bathrooms in public after 4 years....

May 25, 2022 · 2 min · jay l. colbert