syllabus in Dockray, Forster & Public Office 2018

y, Forster & Public Office

## Introduction

How might we ensure the survival and availability of community libraries,
individual collections and other precarious archives? If these libraries,
archives and collections are unwanted by official institutions or, worse,
buried beneath good intentions and bureaucracy, then what tools and platforms
and institutions might we develop instead?

While trying to both formulate and respond to these questions, we began making
Dat Library and HyperReadings:

**Dat Library** distributes libraries across many computers so that many
people can provide disk space and bandwidth, sharing in the labour and
responsibility of the archival infrastructure.

**HyperReadings** implements ‘reading lists’ or a structured set of pointers
(a list, a syllabus, a bibliography, etc.) into one or more libraries,
_activating_ the archives.

## Installation

The easiest way to get started is to install [Dat Library as a desktop
app](, but there is also a programme
called ‘[datcat](’, which can be run on
the command line or included in other NodeJS projects.

## Accidents of the Archive

The 1996 UNESCO publication [Lost Memory: Libraries and Archives Destroyed in
the Twentieth Century](
makes the fragility of historical repositories startlingly clear. “[A]cidified
paper that crumbles to dust, leather, parc

rsion of this text.

A new text editor could be created for this new publication format, not to
mention a new form of publication, which bundles together a set of
HyperReadings texts, producing a universe of texts and references. Each
HyperReadings text might reference others, of course, generating something
that begins to feel like a serverless World Wide Web.

It’s not even necessary to develop a new publication format, as any book might
be considered as a reading list (usually found in the footnotes and
bibliography) with a very detailed description of the relationship between the
consulted texts. What if the history of published works were considered in
this way, such that we might always be able to follow a reference from one
book directly into the pages of another, and so on?

### Syllabus

The syllabus is the manifesto of the twenty-first century. From [Your
Baltimore “Syllabus”](
baltimore-syllabus/), to
to [Women and gender non-conforming people writing about
syllabi are being produced as provocations, or as instructions for
reprogramming imaginaries. They do not announce a new world but they point out
a way to get there. As a programme, the syllabus shifts the burden of action
onto the readers, who will either execute the programme on their own fleshy
operating system — or not. A text that by its nature points to other texts,
the syllabus is already a relational document acknowledging its own position
within a living field of knowledge. It is decidedly not self-contained,
however it often circulates as if it were.

If a syllabus circulated as a HyperReadings document, then it could point
directly to the texts and other media that it aggregates. But just as easily
as it circulates, a HyperReadings syllabus could be forked into new versions:
the syllabus is changed because there is a new essay out, or because of a
political disagreement, or because following the syllabus produced new
suggestions. These forks become a family tree where one can follow branches
and trace epistemological mutations.

## Proposition (or Presuppositions)

While the software that we have started to write is a proposition in and of
itself, there is no guarantee as to _how_ it will be used. But when writing,
we _are_ imagining exactly that: we are making intuitive and hopeful
presuppositions about how it will be used, presuppositions that amount to a
set of social propositions.

### The role of individuals in the age of distribution

Different people have different technical resources and capabilities, but
everyone can contribute to an archive. By simply running the Dat Library
software and adding an archive to it, a person is sharing their disk space and
internet bandwidth in the s


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