Difference between libraries and archives

History comes out of an archive, not a library.

  • Libraries spread knowledge that's been collected and compressed into books and other media.
  • Archives are where collections of papers are stored. Archives contain materials from the people and institutions near it. For example, the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford contain everything from Atari's business plans to HP co-founder William Hewlett's correspondence.

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Problem Solving

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Unlike libraries, archives have generally resisted the digitization of knowledge. They are still mostly paper where you might spend weeks to months working through all the boxes of interest.

With the use of smartphones, instead of reading papers during an archival visit, historians take digital photos of the documents to look at them later.

The practice might seem insignificant, but the ways that information is collected and managed is changing what historians can learn from it. As a result, different histories will be written.

With digitization, archives are now accessed through many mediums by more than just the historian. 

Different types of people outside the professionalized historical tradition could do history, which will lead to more diverse authors, and ultimately a different account of events.

With the ability to capture more documents, the depth of archival work will increase. At the same time, because you are able to find relevant information beyond your project, you may lose what's going on locally.

When you digitize more, you may overestimate your knowledge and believe that your record is complete.

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RELATED IDEAS

  • The original use of the word Quarantine was the act of anchoring a ship arrived in Venice, Italy, for 40 days before landing.
  • Infectiousness of any disease is measured by the reproduction number (R0, or R naught). For example, Smallpox has an R0 of 6 whereas Measles has an R0 of 16. 
  • Vaccination, if available, and herd immunity can curb the spread of disease.
  • Big cities, with exploding population and traffic, can lead to the rapid spread of any infectious disease.

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IDEAS

4. do What’s Most Efficient

80% of your success comes from the top 20% of your daily tasks. So, choose the tasks that offer you the highest yield per hour of effort.

Each day, you need to declare three priorities to which you should focus most of your energy. This can’t always be done, but it’s important you learn to take advantage of the 80/20 rule when possible.

To generate great ideas, look around for clues. 

  • You can deduce the reasons why something is successful by asking the relevant people why they like it.
  • If it is an unexpectedly successful blog post, read the comments. 
  • Observe. People often are not able to accurately articulate why they like something.

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