Read/Write Library: Mapping a City Through Media
Read/Write Library is a replicable project that uses local media to examine a region’s creative, political and intellectual interdependencies, creating a visible network of primary sources. We hope to make it available as an open source technical and theoretical template for other cities, borrowing models from library science, urban planning and social networks. Non-professional content receives more respect than in any previous era. By developing contextual and social features within a catalog, we can direct this sentiment at media that wasn’t valued in the cultural climate of its day. Using relative tags and non-hierarchical subject and keyword combinations helps hyperlocal or alternative perspectives compete in search engines alongside dominant historical records and fill in massive blindspots, and each entry is mapped and treated as a social object where users can share stories of the forgotten, marginalized or even still-active communities connected to these publications.
Nell Taylor is the founder and executive director of Read/Write Library (formerly the Chicago Underground Library) and co-creator of The Printers’ Ball, an annual inclusive event for the broadly defined small press community. She is an independent digital media consultant specializing in community-building and social engagement projects. She writes about culture, technology and occasionally wrestling for the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog and others.