Is it live? or is it Memorex?

Sadly, most of you are probably too young to remember this particular ad campaign (sigh).  Or cassette tapes, for that matter (double sigh.)

I (Arlene) have been thinking about the whole digital thing today.  And whether or not a digital surrogate is truly as good as the original.  For many of our researchers, the benefits of long-distance access to materials is more important than working with the original.  And I tend to agree with them.  For many things, digitized is just as good, if not better.

But for some things it’s not.  This week MC, Nicole & I have been working as labor for Kathy (or as she would spell it, labour.)  She’s in Stuttgart, directing our moves in the physical processing of the Atwood collection.  It’s been interesting, this whole “processing from a distance” experiment we’re doing.  She’s sending directions via chat & email, we’re sending back questions via chat & email and an occasional shared document.  And when we really get stuck, we take a digital picture of whatever is going on and send that to her or we scan the problematic document(s) or photo(s) and send that to her.  And she eventually figures it out and explains.  Or in my case, she throttles back the explanation five or six levels and reduces it to monosyllabic terms so even I can understand.  And since I’m starting to feel like the class dunce, this has gotten irritating.

And since by now you’re totally wondering where I’m going with this discussion and what it has to do with the difference between an original and a digitized version, I decided to play a dumb joke on Kathy today.  We ordered in pizza for lunch for us and for our colleagues in AMIPA and told her, and since she misses this pizzeria greatly, she (ha-ha) asked us to send her some.  So I did.

the lunch pizza

the lunch pizza

I pulled out my little digital camera, took some pictures and sent them to her.  And told her I’d be writing the blog entry on the subject of digitized materials being just as good as the original and I’d be awaiting her opinion.  Well, I was half-expecting a diatribe (Nicole said I was being mean) but I underestimated Kathy’s positive outlook.  She first said it was wonderful, then asked if we could keep an eye on Kevin because he’d obviously picked off some of the toppings from her piece before it arrived.

Sure Kathy.  We’ll keep an eye on Kevin next time.  As for me?  No more dumb jokes.  And obviously, in this case, the digital surrogate is nowhere near as good as the original.  Which is pretty much fantastic.  Hope there’s some left for my breakfast tomorrow.