Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Introducing: The New Zealand Media Archives

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  • bmk, in reply to nzlemming,

    What about the automatic checkers looking for 404 errors on a page so the site administrator can remove/modify the link? I had heard that they were very useful but never used one personally.

    Whangarei • Since Jun 2010 • 280 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    Don't want to distract further from the substantive issue of this thread. #asyouwere

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to bmk,

    True. I was meaning accessibility checkers.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • paynter, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Actually Gordon, do you think you or someone else could do us a guest blog explaining some of those acronyms – and, more particularly, what’s available digitally and how to get at it? I think there’d be a lot of interest in that.

    It might be fun, though I think that if you're "the media" then I'm supposed to get somebody's permission. I'll flick you an email.

    And if you think we have too many acronyms now, just wait until we start to talk like we work at Internal Affairs.

    Gordon

    PS: ATL, NZGOAL

    Since Nov 2006 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6, in reply to Russell Brown,

    In that context, allowing that he and others in the industry could “extend” something done by proper librarians is patronising. The fact is, most of the moves on documenting and preserving recent popular music culture are being made outside the institutional sector.

    I'm really sorry that I came across as patronising. I am not that great at expressing myself in this kind of medium (right back to Usenet days, so you'd think I'd have improved, sadly, no.) - I agree that librarian vs everyone else isn't constructive. I hadn't seen that I was doing that - really, I was trying to correct what I saw as your misunderstanding of what librarians and archivists do, and can do. When I ventured to suggest that the archive could be in place and then extended, I certainly never suggested that this would have to be done by 'proper' librarians. What I was saying was that the skills and professional standing of archivists should be used and made use of in whatever way you can envision. That's what we DO - create and make available resources. I am saying that we know how to do this stuff, and can and should be involved - so that TOGETHER we can make something great happen.

    Exchanging ideas, creating something fantastic - this is all incredibly exciting, and if it isn't happening now, please, please don't assume it's because of our lack of skills or interest. Those who work in public institutions are simply not always allowed/able to formally pursue these things. Lobby politicians on this, get involved in the restructuring of the archives, get informed about what the future direction of these resources could be. But please don't assume that we don't know how archives and libraries work. That really is patronising.

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 123 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6, in reply to Sacha,

    I know and respect some funky librarians. However they seem to have little influence over the priorities of their institutions’ collections and engaging the public in those.

    I have also worked with librarians who seemed to spend their careers reinforcing their own particular, ahem, style over collections. For a time in the '90's, the Hutt City libraries had a very impressive collection of early Church music, and Gregorian chants in particular. I'm not sure how popular some of these were in the Wainuiomata branch, but they did make acquisitions librarians very happy. Any attempts to influence this? Doomed.

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 123 posts Report Reply

  • Leopold, in reply to Tamsin6,

    OTOH, at least someone is collecting Gregorian cghants and early church music. If NZ was onlty going to collect stuff strictly relevant to their communities, we would all be poorer for it. At least some medieval monasteries thought that copying collecting non-church classical material was worth it for its own sake. There is a need for seeming irrevelancy - look at all the then thought irrevelant Maori letters and other documents were saved in the the early 1920s, which later emerged with the Waitangi Tribunal investigations

    Since Jan 2007 • 145 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tamsin6,

    I’m really sorry that I came across as patronising. I am not that great at expressing myself in this kind of medium (right back to Usenet days, so you’d think I’d have improved, sadly, no.)

    Aw, sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that. Robust discussion and all. I’m enjoying and appreciating your presence.

    When I ventured to suggest that the archive could be in place and then extended, I certainly never suggested that this would have to be done by ‘proper’ librarians. What I was saying was that the skills and professional standing of archivists should be used and made use of in whatever way you can envision.

    Can't disagree with that at all. My argument was that sometimes it's better for the stakeholders in a culture to take the lead in documenting and preserving their own culture -- especially when the alternative is waiting around for their culture to become an institutional priority.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17969 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Subsequent to an offline discussion, I do feel the need to make more clear that some of the problems identified by Roger Horrocks at the NZFA, particularly with respect to preservation, are wholly the consequence of a lack of funds. Others – the governance problems and the archive’s bad relationship with the screen sector – not so much.

    Frank Stark’s energy and advocacy have helped fill a gap that no one else was filling and he and his staff deserve great credit for that. But my view that folding the other two archives into the Film Archive – and that did actually seem to be the idea when I made some enquiries – is a really terrible idea remains. I think the crown entity structure I suggested is a better idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17969 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Leopold,

    If NZ was only going to collect stuff strictly relevant to their communities, we would all be poorer for it.

    Seems commonsense to start with what is from and of this place though, if budgets are limited. I guess if there's any unique NZ spin on Gregorian chanting I could visit the Hutt to find out.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Steindl,

    In response to the debate over a/the Archive of NZ music (and I apologise for coming late to the discussion):

    I think we are all in favour of collecting, archiving and making accessible as much of our heritage as possible. That is not in doubt, but what perhaps is of concern is the lack of dialogue between those proposing an Archive of NZ Music at the Film Archives, and those curating the Archive of New Zealand Music at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

    Archive collection, storage and preservation is a hugely expensive activity and involves a high level of expertise and training. For this reason it is crucial that every little piece of the tiny pie that is allocated to the heritage sector be used as wisely as possible.

    I personally applaud Mike Chunn, and those behind the NZ Music Archive for their initiative, however I also think that it is of vital importance that such an activity works intimately with those already involved in “officially” collecting our music heritage. Unfortunately this communication hasn’t been occurring, and the great fear is that there will be an attempt to reinvent the wheel at the cost of the small (and sadly diminishing) amount of resources allocated to the heritage sector.

    Likewise Simon, I am immensely grateful that private collectors such as yourself exist, indeed this is more often than not the origins of our nation’s most significant collections (Alexander Turnbull's for instance). But to an extent, it is up to the collectors themselves when they might wish to gift their collections to the nation. A good example is the fabulous archive of one of NZ’s greatest private archivists Dennis Huggard; a collection of thousands of live NZ jazz recordings that he recently donated to ATL. Similarly, we would almost certainly welcome your collection if you chose to offer it.

    And finally Russell, I would ask you not to presume that those involved in documenting and preserving our culture aren’t also stakeholders in that culture. Indeed, I think you’ll find that that’s exactly why we’re doing it.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Matthew Steindl,

    And that, ladies and gents, concludes the case of why people avoid dealing with the ATL unless they have to.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Geraldene, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    NZ On Screen does some immensely useful work on what I've been told, and can well believe, is a tiny budget. I still have difficulty though with the problem of some contextual material being cobbled together from uncredited print sources. It goes against the grain of the organisation's own Creative Commons licence specifying attribution. I realise that this a consequence of informed and hard working people being overstretched, but it makes it difficult to recommend at least some of the text entries as credible information sources to writers and researchers. I'm not sure what proportion of MCH funding sustains DNZB entries, but if NZ On Screen contextual material could be similarly funded perhaps this might solve such issues.

    Aotearoa • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Geraldene,

    NZ On Screen does some immensely useful work on what I’ve been told, and can well believe, is a tiny budget. I still have difficulty though with the problem of some contextual material being cobbled together from uncredited print sources.

    Do you have examples? Feel free to email me (click the little envelope).

    The entries aren’t research, though: they’re editorial for consumption by members of the public, and they’re going to draw on existing material sometimes. They shouldn’t, however, copy whole text without attribution.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17969 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Matthew Steindl,

    Likewise Simon, I am immensely grateful that private collectors such as yourself exist

    With respect, Matthew, nothing I've written above has anything to do with my or anyone else's collections. Edit: I see the reference earlier: no-one has contacted me or others. That was an aside to the main topic, but, yes I get your point.

    I personally applaud Mike Chunn, and those behind the NZ Music Archive for their initiative

    Mike's recent initiative too, as far as I know, is quite another thing to the NZMA as mentioned upthread. It's an attempt to gather together imagery fast disappearing while we still can. He and I have talked about a fusion of resources and content.

    Andrew Schmidt has posted on all this at Mysterex.

    a recent experience suggests the degree of institutional opposition to Simon’s initiative may be being under-estimated

    Indeed.

    What bemuses is that having authored, with some fairly strong and informed input from others, a 70 page proposal (on these pages I think only Russell has seen any great part of this), I'm repeatedly being told by those who've not seen it and have only an overview of parts of it, that they can do it all.

    I really don't think this forum is the correct place to start detailing what I - and others who do have a pretty wide and coalface overview of what is needed/wanted - are asking for but it may suffice to say that the inability to grasp the bigger picture I'm seeing doesn't fill me with much confidence.

    I'm not lacking respect for what NatLib and ATL do and will do, very much the opposite, but many of the posts in this thread seem to me to underline exactly why a database such as is being suggested, needs to be both dedicated and standalone.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3185 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Steindl,

    Archive collection, storage and preservation is a hugely expensive activity and involves a high level of expertise and training. For this reason it is crucial that every little piece of the tiny pie that is allocated to the heritage sector be used as wisely as possible.

    Matthew, I think I'd be more sympathetic if it didn't seem to be all about funding. As Simon has explained, the first step is the database, and it's really no slight on professional archivists to suppose that much of that information will be more readily secured by people working in the industry.

    As an example, when Roger Shepherd bought back Flying Nun Records from Warners, the first task was working out exactly what they owned -- Warner had let the catalogue and rights get into that much of a mess. Simon, on the other hand, has made a lovely job of compiling and annotating the many releases with which he's been associated, and he has a good idea of where the rights lie.

    I'm sure he'd happily provide such information to AT -- and I trust the library would reciprocate -- but in this context saying "stand back and let the professionals handle it" doesn't really make sense. This work is being done right now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17969 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Steindl, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Thanks for your reply Simon

    My apologies, I thought Mike's initiative and yours were the same.

    I agree that this isn't perhaps the correct forum, but I would just like to clarify that (at least in my case) it isn't opposition to your plans at all, quite the opposite in fact. Rather it was an attempt to flag the importance of communication, co-operation and hopefully collaboration on these projects; to help them be a success.

    I'm not speaking for my institution here, but I am excited about the amount of attention that is beginning to be paid to our more recent musical heritage and it's preservation needs. I just wish for us to be able to leverage the combined expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm that is spread about at present.

    I suspect what opposition has been picked up on by Andrew may spring more from this sense of a lack of communication than any stick-in-the-mud opposition.

    Incidentally, I am in the process of preparing an overview report on archival music collections and their current activities in NZ which I would be more than happy to send you a copy when completed.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Russell Brown,

    if it didn't seem to be all about funding.

    I also think that it's perhaps worth mentioning that, if the DB is done as it should be, a digital front end for New Zealand music and musical culture has the potential to play a major part in the generation of fairly substantial export returns for the nation - dwarfing any investment. The earning potential of our music offshore and the part it would and can play in the sustainability of the NZ industry cannot be understated.

    To realize that potential, it needs to have an approach, look and feel that is arguably only understood by those working to maximise that - and its potential audiences.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3185 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Matthew Steindl,

    Rather it was an attempt to flag the importance of communication, co-operation and hopefully collaboration on these projects; to help them be a success.

    Thanks, Matthew. Maximising the resources and integration of these are crucial, especially in a small nation such as ours (we have, after all, largely built a music industry by backing massive natural talent with - on international terms - smoke, mirrors and a few pennies).

    We are all working towards connected targets here.

    Love to see that report when done. My email is on the post and my site.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3185 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Steindl,

    I am in the process of preparing an overview report on archival music collections and their current activities in NZ which I would be more than happy to send you a copy when completed.

    Can I respectfully suggest that communicating with Simon *before* your report is done might help shape it to be a closer fit with his proposed initiative and vice versa - even if that's just some similarities in thinking about categories, gaps and opportunities.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15741 posts Report Reply

  • Russell C, in reply to nzlemming,

    To be fair, the bulk of the damage to that document occurred before it ever reached Archives New Zealand.

    In my informed opinion, the main issue with Archives being part of DIA earlier was being a small cog inside a large wheel, and not a very squeaky one. Being a separate department meant being able to make appropriate professional and technical choices that did not have to intermesh with the rest of DIA, and was not subject to the internal political prioritization that large omnibus departments like DIA (and MED, to a large extent) are prone to. This has made Archives a very effective agency, over the last decade.

    One should also remember that Archives New Zealand is the memory of government, not just a repository for anything old. National Library is the place for non-governmental archiving. There is still much concern in the library, archives and recordkeeping communities (another division most people don’t think about) about the impacts of the merger, especially around skilled staff leaving and some absurd technical decisions that I, for one, keep hearing about. Lotus Notes, FFS! And a old version to boot.

    Yes, I wasn't referring to damage to the Treaty, that was far far far earlier and another story completely. This whole issue is largely a rerun (albeit one they pushed through second time around) of the then National Government's attempt in 1999 to merge ANZ with Heritage & Culture. Now there's another one that is likely to hauled back into the mothership sooner rather than later. I'll have no problem with it if there is a transparent and accountable reason for it to happen, but I'd be surprised...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Slightly off topic,but given we are talking about the future of media institutions, there is a Forum on the Future of Public Television in NZ at Victoria Uni next Wednesday (Council Chamber, 8.30-5.10). Sessions on policy developments, alternative funding strategies, sustaining local content, FTA into the future etc... Features politicos (but not Coleman), producers and academics.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2219 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Ward, in reply to Geraldene,

    I still have difficulty though with the problem of some contextual material being cobbled together from uncredited print sources.

    Hi Geraldene. What content are you referring to specifically on NZ On Screen? The issue of attributing sources for the long profiles is something we have been addressing since it was raised with us in June 2010. Partly it was a growing pain of the fact that the profiles (alongside the project's success) become something more extensive than they were originally planned to be. Now - as a matter of course- every long biography we present is appropriately attributed, and we're retrospectively working through the backlog, though (for evident reasons - small team etc) this is not something that will happen overnight. We are a knowledgeable, conscientious and passionate content team and I trust that commitment shines throughout the project. Paul Ward (editor, NZ On Screen)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • David Ricquish,

    This is a long overdue discussion. At the Radio Heritage Foundation, we grapple with these issues as part of the media landscape.
    Some of the reasons [amongst many] we were established was because of our belief that our broadcasting heritage should be available to the community and should not locked away in vaults and curated by government officials.
    We also believe that our broadcasting heritage exists within a global perspective, so we position our work within an Asia-Pacific paradigm, and draw on wider perspectives and alliances from anywhere relevant in the world.
    We have never received 1c from NZOA, any radio network or any government agency in New Zealand. Not that we don't ask of course, but because there is either a view that RNZ Sound Archives represents 'radio' [because of historical accident of state radio control] or because the major commercial networks are Australian [and indirectly US] controlled and broadcasters are usually their own worst archivists in NZ, Australia, the US or Canada.
    A Media Archives? A convenient cobbling together of different visions and pressures, and usually doomed to failure because it puts archiving, curating and resource control in the hands of a concentrated few state funded 'experts' who generally lack vision, passion and love of their subject..
    We always struggle for resources and funds, but a few good global folks with collectors passion,contacts and trust can increasingly use new technology to compete with any state funded media archives. We're always a work-in-progress. We like the idea of private trusts and we must convince philanthropists, the business sector and others to support us on merit. Not through a taxpayer handout.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

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