05 May 2008

This blog is culturally significant. Official.

Folks, being the pompous hypocrite that I am occasionally, I'm not afraid of bignoting myself as much as what I can possibly get away with. Which is why I'm a little surprised that it's taken me this long to get this one out there for you lot to read.

It appears that for some reason or another, my blog is now listed as being 'culturally significant', whatever that means.

Those who know me best would know that I don't have much time for the descriptor, 'cultural'. 'Culture', to me, is stuff that reflects people. It could be anything - pop songs, graffiti, news, architecture, mass transit etc. However, the highbrow would have you believe that it reflects a small subset of what is more broadly known as 'art'; the emphasis being on the part that the highbrow believe is cultural. Which is normally at odds with what the rest of us like to include, or rather, their definition excludes a great deal of it. Most of it, in fact.

It all started out with an email that I got in mid-January from someone asking me if would be OK to archive Dikkii's Diatribe under the PANDORA archive which is administered by the National Library of Australia. Note that names and numbers have been changed and email addresses deleted to protect the innocent:


Dear Sir

Request for permission to archive Dikkii’s Diatribe

The National Library of Australia aims to build a comprehensive collection of Australian publications to ensure that Australians have access to their documentary heritage now and in the future. The Library has traditionally collected items in print, but it is also committed to preserving electronic publications of lasting cultural value.

PANDORA, Australia’s Web Archive, was set up by the Library in 1996 to enable the archiving and provision of long-term access to online Australian publications. Since then we have been identifying online publications and archiving those that we consider have national significance. Additional information about PANDORA can be found on the Library's server at: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/index.html

We would like to include Dikkii’s Diatribe in the PANDORA Archive and I would be grateful if you would let me know whether you are willing to permit us to do so, that is, grant us a licence under the Copyright Act 1968, to copy your publication into the Archive and to provide public online access to it via the Internet. This means that you would grant the Library permission to retain your publication in the Archive and to provide public access to it in perpetuity.

We would like to re-archive your publication periodically to record significant additions and changes.

If you are willing to grant us such a licence, please complete the short form at the end of this message and return it to me.

There are some benefits to you as a publisher in having your publication archived by the Library. If you grant us a copyright licence, the Library will take the necessary preservation action to keep your publication accessible as hardware and software changes over time. The Library will catalogue your publication and add the record to the National Bibliographic Database (a database of catalogue records shared by over 1,100 Australian libraries), as well as to our own online catalogue. This will increase awareness of your publication among researchers using libraries.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me, Gillian Nguyen, by telephone on 02 62** **71 or by email ********@nla.gov.au. Should you find me difficult to contact for any reason, Ross Fowler would also be happy to assist you. His phone number is 02 62** **18 and his email address is *****@nla.gov.au.

Yours sincerely

Gillian Nguyen
National Library of Australia
Web Archiving
Mailbox 6, Canberra ACT 2600
Tel: (02) 62** **71
Fax: (02) 62** **92

I/We grant the National Library of Australia a licence under the Copyright Act 1968 to copy the online publication [title] into the PANDORA Archive. I understand that this licence permits the Library to retain and provide public online access to it in perpetuity and that the Library may make reproductions or communications of my publication as are reasonably necessary to preserve it and make it available to the public.


So of course I had to find out more. I sent back a response to Gillian and cc'd Ross in as well. I thought to myself that, well, at worst, this could be a manifestation of a Nigerian scam, but it could be interesting.

One thing that I wasn't sure of is that quite a lot of my posts are covered by a Creative Commons licence, which precludes the use by the library for anything other than non-commercial applications. I asked about this in my response:

Hi Gillian,

I'm rather chuffed with your email. It sounds very nice, thank you. I would have never thought of my blog as being culturally significant.

I do have a couple of questions though, before I go ahead:

1. Quite a lot of my blog is subject to a Creative Commons licence, which reads as follows:

Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Generic

You are free:

  • to Remix — to adapt the work

Under the following conditions:

  • Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

  • Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

  • Share Alike. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

  • For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.
  • Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.
  • Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author's moral rights.

Will this present any issues with me approving a copyright licence?

2. On what basis was my blog selected?

3. May I have your permission to reproduce your initial email and this exchange on my blog?

Cheers, Dikkii.

I received a response to this quite quickly:

Dear Dikkii
Thank you for geting back to us. I have attempted to answer your questions below. Please let me know if I can be of further advice.
1. We foresee no conflict with your Creative Commons licence, the National Library does not take on any of your copyrights by archiving. The only right we would maintain would be to retain our copy once it is archived.
2. We archive many blogs in PANDORA, yours was selected because it contains original Australian content and has been going for more than a year.
3. We would not seek to dictate what you present on your website, but we generally do not like to appear ourselves in the Archive, as we wish to record rather than be recorded. We are happy for you to mention that you have been archived and have buttons you may use if interested (http://pandora.nla.gov.au/publishers.html#logo). If you do decide to publish this correspondence please could you remove the contact information.

Ross Fowler

Senior Librarian
Web Archiving Section
National Library of Australia
Canberra ACT 2600
PH. +61 2 62** **18
Fax +61 2 62** **22
Email *****@nla.gov.au

PANDORA Australia's Web Archive http://pandora.nla.gov.au/

Which deflated me a little, but hey! If it's been going for more than a year, and I can possibly get more readers, then I'm reasonably happy with that.

So I granted the permissions and here I am. About two weeks later, I got this:

Dear Dikkii

Thank you for granting the National Library of Australia a copyright licence to include your website in the PANDORA Archive. As agreed this licence permits the Library to copy your publication into the Archive and to retain that copy and provide online public access to it in perpetuity.

I am delighted to inform you that your publication is now publicly available in the PANDORA Archive at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-80846

Access to your publication in the Archive is facilitated in two ways: via the Library’s online catalogue; and via subject and title lists maintained on the PANDORA home page http://pandora.nla.gov.au/index.html.

Should the location of the title change, or should you decide to cease publication, we would appreciate it if you would advise us so that we can ensure all relevant data is archived.

I would welcome any comments you may have regarding the presentation of your publication in the archive and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Roger Parker

Web Archiving Section
National Library of Australia
Canberra ACT 2600
PH. +61 2 62** **05
Fax +61 2 62** **22
Email *******@nla.gov.au

So I guess that this means that I can consider myself part of the artistic milieu, and therefore one of the highbrow wankers that I occasionally rail against.

Here's a question - would it have been more 'art' to have said no?


KitKat said...

Woo hoo, go Dikkii Pepys.

I actually think it's quite far-sighted of these folk to archive stuff from the people on the street, as it were. Good on 'em for not limiting their definition of kulcha to opera'n'that.

Dikkii said...

Thanks, KitKat. I think that it is good, too, although I wonder about the stuff that they're not archiving.

Mind you, I agree that they do have to draw a line somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Well done Dikkii, though you are now firmly on the Joyce side of the James Hird/James Joyce dichotomy. How does that make you feel?

Dikkii said...

Like a bit of a wanker, actually, to be brutally honest thanks Taj.

But I think that I always tended more towards that than the yob side of the equation.

Greg said...

I must confess to feeling a little jealous - how come my rants aren't deemed culturally significant?

Why, just last month there was even an unprompted grass-roots call for The Speccy to be archived by the National Library!

Ah well, I'll live on in posterity through the occasional comment on this blog.

Dikkii said...

You have my nomination, Greg. If anything, yours is far more "cultural" than my navel gazing.

Of course, navel gazing scores large points with the highbrow.

Anonymous said...

it just means your getting old enough to be making sence

Dikkii said...

Wash your mouth out with soap, Clay. I am neither "old enough" nor do I make "sence".

Anonymous said...

Greg, I think you might be at a disadvantage - the guy who gets to select the blogs is quite likely a Gary Ablett fan.

Dikkii said...

I probably should point out the historical fact that whenever something gets seized upon by The Man as being "cultural", that's usually the point when it ceases to be cutting edge.

Which probably means that I've just ceased any relevance I might have had. In other words, I wouldn't be too worried, Greg.