The New York Times on McDonough Living Archive @ Stanford

The New York Times’s David Streitfeld wrote about the Stanford University Libraries’ Living Archive collaboration with William McDonough, in a piece titled “The Era of Deep Archiving Begins.”

Here’s an excerpt:

As a Dartmouth student in the early 1970s, William McDonough went, somewhat casually, to hear a lecture by a visiting celebrity. Mr. McDonough had little idea beforehand who Buckminster Fuller was, but listening to the designer and futurist had a long-term effect.

Mr. McDonough was late and took one of the last seats left, in the front row. Three hours later, he realized that the rest of the audience was gone but that Mr. Fuller was still talking. “Do you want me to keep going?” Mr. Fuller asked politely but unnecessarily. They ended up taking a walk around campus, Mr. Fuller expostulating all the way.

That evening put Mr. McDonough on the path to becoming a prominent architect, but it exists only in his memory, which used to be where just about everything about our pasts resided. Now Mr. McDonough is in the forefront of efforts to change that, to record instantaneously the major intellectual events in our lives. He will be the first living archive at Stanford University.

This means that the architect, a leader in sustainable development, has started filming all of his meetings and recording all of his phone conversations. He will send them in something close to real time to Stanford, which will be making much of the material immediately accessible on the Internet. Even presidents are not observed so closely and so continuously. Mr. Fuller, whose archives are also at Stanford and is something of a guiding spirit to the project, would be envious but probably not surprised.

“How many of our daily discussions are worth keeping a detailed record of?” asked Roberto Trujillo, head of the Stanford University Libraries’ Special Collections. “My sense is Bill is booked solid with a lot of meaningful meetings, and so it will be a rich archive. This could well be a model for other repositories and libraries. I wouldn’t claim the idea is unique, but the scope is.”

Read the full article here.