Those were the first words ever transmitted electronically, in 1844, by Samuel Morse. That message and Morse’s invention of the telegraph marked what was undeniably, at the time, the most significant communications revolution since the advent of movable type.
If you are reading this, then chances are you have some sense of how the legacies of Morse and those who came before him and since have transformed our daily lives. It is an inescapable fact that the Internet is redefining at an accelerating rate how we get information and interact.
And if you’re reading this, then you probably know how blogs are an intrinsic part of that larger medium. The Library of Congress knows it too.
The Library has in its care more than 134 million items, with 22 million items online. That’s a lot of content, by any measure. More and more people online are looking to blogs to help them navigate and make sense of the content that’s “out there,” to say nothing of the world around them. With some 71 million blogs at last count (or so says Technorati), it’s a conversation an institution like the Library should be a part of.
The Library of Congress was producing electronic content long before the Web even existed, so it’s fitting today that we become one of a (surprisingly) small handful of federal agencies with a bona fide blog.
It’s probably a bit early to come up with some sort of grand “mission statement” for this blog, but it will be in keeping with the spirit of the Library’s mission as a whole: “to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations.”
Especially that “make available” part. But more than that, there are other common threads running throughout the Library’s: inspiring imagination and creativity, and rewarding achievement, all with the goal of furthering human understanding and wisdom.
Because the vast majority of visitors to the Library of Congress do so only virtually (via this Web site), I wanted to give readers the opportunity to see more of the institution, to give them the online version of a docent who can highlight many of the wonderful things that happen here.
And I will offer readers the chance to see it all through new eyes. I’ve been privileged to work at the Library now for just seven months now, and my sense of awe continues to grow. Some days, I have to admit, I’m even giddy at the history and knowledge housed here. I guess you could say I “drank the Kool-Aid.”
Like all bloggers, I won’t be perfect. I’ll try to write in a way that demonstrates that I am indeed an actual person, which sometimes entails pitfalls. I won’t have the knowledge or wisdom of many of our remarkable individual curators. But I do intend to draw upon the amazing collective resources here, and I think I’ll benefit from all the thoughtful comments I hope we will receive along the way. (Hint, hint.)
I have great respect for the power and potential that have been “wrought” by the Internet generally and blogs specifically. I intend that blog number 70,000,001 will use it in useful and interesting ways.