----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Richter" <[log in to unmask]>
> I believe the archivist
> of audio material could take the lead of those preserving historic sites
> and buildings. Every hovel has a history and some day a former resident
> prove to have been a pivotal figure. But that possibility does not ensure
> that it is worthy of protection from the march of progress.
I would, first, take objection here...and, second, comment that I hope the
audio archivist community enjoys more success than does the architectural
preservation community! I am active in both: the former on a private scale,
the latter as a member of a municipal volunteer committee. There is one
notable difference--unlike the destruction of an architectural artifact,
the destroyer of an audio artifact does not profit by the act (barring
a substantial increase in used-shellac value!). As well, the creation of
a new audio artifact does not involve the destruction of an existing one
(until the Earth is severely short of space!)
All the same, I would like to maximize the preservation of both audio
and architectural artifacts; the latter are irreplaceable (in the actual
definition of the term) while the former may well be if they are the
last or only example of a recorded event. In either case, what is being
preserved is an example of the way life was lived at time "X" under
conditions "Y." The fact that a building was once owned by a notable
figure, or that a recording was made by a notable musical figure, may
make it more likely to be preserved; I would question whether it
provides any intrinsic value per se!
The sad fact is that society is arbitrary about what gets assigned
(mainly financial) value and is thus more likely to be preserved. If I
had my grandmother's old second-best sugar bowl, it would merit a
place in any current antique/collectible shop by virtue of being a
geniune piece of "depression glass;" if I had her old vacuum cleaner,
it would be worthless to anyone but a highly specialized collector
(I assume there must be at least one collector of vacuum cleaners out
there, and feel for the spouse thereof); but if she had spoken into
a Wilcox-Gay Recordio on her life history, that would probably be
considered valueless, even though it is of more potential value to
future researchers than either of the first two examples!
Also, as a side comment, I can't see it being part of a "march of
progress" if some misguided party wants to push over a 19th century
farmhouse to construct a new Wal-Mart! It's ironic how much interesting
old architecture was demolished in favour of gas stations, which now
only a few decades later are being pushed over to create vacant lots
with semi-permanent "For Sale!" signs erected on them...
> Our criteria
> will be different in part because preserving one recording does not impede
> development; however, the resources used for our noble objective will not
> be available for other, lesser ones - such as preserving buildings or
> providing pre-natal care to the needy or books for the lending library.
This assumes that society has resources which are not only fixed and limited
but inherently available in a small amount. Were we in such a "lifeboat"
situation, I could suggest a lot of individual indulgences that could and
should be reduced in favour of more important societal ones! There, however,
I risk a confrontation with those further right-wing than I am...
Steven C. Barr