They Also Serve Who Only Stand

Posted by: on Feb 25, 2008 | No Comments

The cadence doesn’t quite work, but it’s still a good idea. For a long time now I’ve been compiling what’s heretofore been known as “Hidden Heroes of Minnesota History”. It’s a Sesquicentennial diversion about which I’m getting more serious. Thus, I’m shedding the allegedly sexist “heroes” title for the more ubiquitous “They.” The point is the same:

We wouldn’t know about the Big Heroes if we didn’t have a legacy of countless unnamed heroes – individuals, organizations, funders, visionaries – who have pack ratted, collected, preserved, organized, tabulated, digitized, mapped, cataloged, indexed, reprinted, reformatted or otherwise opened the doors to the recorded history of our state — or the cosmos, for that matter.

The process of making history available demands vision, collaboration, and a commitment to the past and to the future. Headline seekers need not apply. If egomania is not your thing, you too can join the ranks of the “also servers” by adding to this fledgling compilation of hidden heroes, heroines, and heroic organizations.

I’m about to post my totally random compilation, leaving it to others to amend and/or organize the list. Most important, please add your suggestions by emailing me with a jot or a treatise describing the “also servers” who have opened the door for you.

Preserving Minnesota’s digital resources: Along similar lines, the Minnesota office of Enterprise Technology recently submitted a mandated report to the Minnesota Legislature. Preserving the Present: Creating, Accessing and Maintaining Minnesota’s Electronic Documents, now available online, reflects the collective work of the agency and a survey of stakeholders. Citing the dynamic nature of technology innovation, the report specifically declines to recommend the adoption of a particular format standard. The study concludes that “the choice or use of a standard must not be to adopt a standard for the sake of adopting a standard. Any choice must be in the context of what value such a decision adds to government.”

The report goes on to identify several concrete, practical steps that the state can take to address electronic records policy issues.

Our Cells, Ourselves. Joel Garreau of the Washington Post poses a whole lot of tough questions for a Sunday morning. Taking a global look at the impact of the cell phone, Garreau ponders the question of whether the cell phone, now a global factor, frees or tethers us. He doesn’t answer that question, either, but he does leave me turning it over in my mind. Turn your cell off for the few minutes it will take to read this thoughtful piece.

Quote: “When information which properly belongs to the public is systematically withheld by those in power, the people soon become ignorant of their own affairs, distrustful of those who manage them, and – eventually – incapable of determining their own destinies.” Pres. Richard Nixon, 1972

Scientists Call on next President to End Political Interference in Science; Guarantee Scientists’ Freedoms. A panel of leading scientists recently issued a significant call for openness at the annual conference of the AAAS (February 15). Speaking at the announcement event Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at UCS, observed that “good federal policy depends upon reliable and robust scientific work… When science is falsified, fabricated or censored, Americans’ health and safety suffer.”

Mary Treacy