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Here are the video and my slides from my eBooks & eReaders presentation for the Library 2.013 conference delivered earlier today.
Wikileaks has added to their Cablegate documents a new collection titled “The Kissinger Cables” and created The Public Library of US Diplomacy Web site. There’s so much here I don’t know where to begin so for now you’ll just have to investigate it yourself.
The Kissinger Cables are part of today’s launch of the WikiLeaks Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD), which holds the world’s largest searchable collection of United States confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications. As of its launch on April 8, 2013 it holds 2 million records comprising approximately 1 billion words.
WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange stated: “The collection covers US involvements in, and diplomatic or intelligence reporting on, every country on Earth. It is the single most significant body of geopolitical material ever published.”
THE KISSINGER CABLES
“The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” — Henry A. Kissinger, US Secretary of State, March 10, 1975: http://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/P860114-1573_MC_b.html#efmCS3CUB
The Kissinger Cables comprise more than 1.7 million US diplomatic records for the period 1973 to 1976, including 205,901 records relating to former US Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. Dating from January 1, 1973 to December 31, 1976 they cover a variety of diplomatic traffic including cables, intelligence reports and congressional correspondence. They include more than 1.3 million full diplomatic cables and 320,000 originally classified records. These include more than 227,000 cables classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and 61,000 cables classified as “SECRET”. Perhaps more importantly, there are more than 12,000 documents with the sensitive handling restriction “NODIS” or ‘no distribution’, and more than 9,000 labelled “Eyes Only”.
At around 700 million words, the Kissinger Cables collection is approximately five times the size of WikiLeaks’ Cablegate. The raw PDF data is more than 380 Gigabytes in size and is the largest WikiLeaks publication to date.
WikiLeaks’ media partners will be reporting throughout the week on their findings. These include significant revelations about US involvements with fascist dictatorships, particularly in Latin America, under Franco’s Spain (including about the Spanish royal family) and in Greece under the regime of the Colonels.
The documents also contain hourly diplomatic reporting on the 1973 war between Israel, Egypt and Syria (the “Yom Kippur war”). While several of these documents have been used by US academic researchers in the past, the Kissinger Cables provides unparalled access to journalists and the general public.
Most of the records were reviewed by the United States Department of State’s systematic 25-year declassification process. At review, the records were assessed and either declassified or kept classified with some or all of the metadata records declassified. Both sets of records were then subject to an additional review by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Once believed to be releasable, they were placed as individual PDFs at the National Archives as part of their Central Foreign Policy Files collection. Despite the review process supposedly assessing documents after 25 years there are no diplomatic records later than 1976. The formal declassification and review process of these extremely valuable historical documents is therefore currently running 12 years late.
The form in which these documents were held at NARA was as 1.7 million individual PDFs. To prepare these documents for integration into the PlusD collection, WikiLeaks obtained and reverse-engineered all 1.7 million PDFs and performed a detailed analysis of individual fields, developed sophisticated technical systems to deal with the complex and voluminous data and corrected a great many errors introduced by NARA, the State Department or its diplomats, for example harmonizing the many different ways in which departments, capitals and people’s names were spelt. All our corrective work is referenced and available from the links in the individual field descriptions on the PlusD text search interface: https://search.wikileaks.org/plusd
What started out as an interesting article about the papers of William Henry Seward being digitized at the University of Rochester turns into one about the changing nature of libraries, making it worth the read twice over:
Cornell’s Kenney says that in the wake of the web, the role of libraries on campuses “isn’t as self-evident as it once was. It’s a more complex environment.”
The key to adapting, for librarians and users alike, is to focus on content rather than format, says Dimmock. “A book, a physical book, is a format. Is it the content that matters? Being a film librarian, I’ve always had to think about those issues. In my back room, I have 16 millimeter. I have laser discs. I have VHS. I have DVD—and now even DVD is dead. They’re just containers. It’s the content.”
And moving away from that materiality is “a new service model,” she says. “We’ve very much organized around collections, and we have to change the way we think about collections.” As digitization brings greater uniformity to libraries’ collections—publishers sell journals, databases, and other resources in bundles, much like cable companies do channels—rare books and manuscripts take a special place. “I think that the collections that are going to matter the most to libraries are the special collections, because those are the unique things,” says Dimmock.
While the Internet has made address-hunting trips to the library unnecessary, students’ need for guidance in navigating libraries’ resources is only growing more acute. Students today “have been using technology since they were toddlers,” says Toronto’s Alford, but they don’t necessarily understand how academic information searching works. “There’s extraordinary complexity of information access and discovery.”
Read the full article @ rochester.edu. (Thanks Dad)