No, I haven’t forgotten the archive. Now that PANDEMIA is finished, it - and preparing for legal action against Twitter - are my top priorities. (By the way, if you followed my feed in either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, please email. No particular reason!)
Some foundational principles are obvious. The archive must be:
2) Open to everyone.
3) Apolitical (that is, contain material whether it can be used to support or oppose any particular view of lockdowns, vaccines, etc).
4) As comprehensive as possible.
5) Permanent. Not Internet permanent, where it might last 20 years, but permanent permanent, like a university.
But figuring out how to reach those goals will require making some tough choices about both the front end (material and how it's sorted) and the back end (technology).
On the back end, the choices are basically:
1) Use third-party hosting (AWS, etc)
2) Our own servers (probably with mirrored servers in at least two countries)
3) Blockchain/distributed infrastructure
I think my preference is for #2. I can hardly trust Amazon at this point, and I don’t want to be associated with a company like Epik. And I confess I don’t really understand how blockchain will work for this - plus if the crypto experience is any guide it is expensive and slow at processing transactions - searches in this case - and the archive could get quite large.
But using our own servers will be expensive, and they will have to have good security - they will be a target for everyone from vaccine fanatics to the PRC.
The front end questions are actually even trickier - and involve both how the archive is organized and what material it contains.
Should it sort by type of data (ie government document/scientific paper/etc)? By type of language? By broad category of interest (lockdowns/origins/vaccines/etc)? Some other way?
Should it offer non-professional (and professional) researchers help in finding material, or do we just add the best search engine we can find and let them look for themselves? Full-text search seems an obvious basic rule.
Will the archive accept every document anyone sends without vetting it? Or should it have professionals trying to vet documents - not by commenting on them, simply by making they are real and unaltered (for example, that no one has slipped a fake Fauci email into the FOIA dump)? Should we have two silos, one for vetted material we know is accurate and one for unvetted material?
Will the archive solicit material? Will it engage in its own FOIA suits to try to add material?
What about copyrighted material - news articles, say? Is there a way to offer excerpts of it with links to the original sources?
Will it include video (I think so, at least for really important documents like WHO press conferences)?
Obviously, we aren’t going to be able to answer all these questions in detail before moving forward - nor should we, whoever is running the archive will be able to make course corrections along the way . But we should at least have discussed them - and others I haven’t even considered - in enough depth to understand them.
And, oh yeah, how much is all this going to cost - both to start it up and to keep it going on an annual basis? And how much should it have in the bank at launch? And should it be trying to raise an endowment?
Which is to say, the stakes are high here. I welcome your input (and, eventually, donations for the nonprofit that will be running it - and though I hardly need to say this, I will anyway. No, bluechecks, I don’t plan on taking a cent from this. Probably the reverse. I expect I’ll be making one of the early donations.)
One thing I can promise: the servers won’t be in Australia. More to come on the follies Down Under soon…