Being an anarchivist means doing that, but not in the conventional way of a professional librarian; accession is literally gatekeeping. Preservationism has virtues and risks; recent headlines about rare book forgery-thefts from European libraries and the loss of one of Africa’s foremost film archives to an artillery blast illustrate the dangers of information rot amid creeping global war.

Instead, I focus my efforts on digitizing, transcribing, cross-referencing, and publishing the contents of archival materials which are not otherwise available in digital form. Inspired by (and often drawing heavily from)‘s WayBack Machine, my goal as an anarchivist is to surface data lost to link-rot, buried in moldering stacks, and hiding on thrift store bookshelves.

When we let the memories and insights of those who came before go to waste, we abandon the opportunity to learn forward. The Internet of the late 1990s was a beautiful mess, and there is a good chunk of transcribed old books and historical context to be found on the pages of armchair genealogists. Obviously, so much more exists in print, scattered about and subject to the ravages of time.

Priority is given in my work to physical materials related to the stories of the oppressed (e.g., Indigenous language keepers, queer+trans strivers) and digital materials which have succumbed to link-rot and/or domain-jacking (e.g., broken Wikipedia references, since-abandoned projects, ancient DIY free-hosts).

How Jay does archival work

Want Jay’s help on an archival project? Reach out.