'What Hath God Wrought?'

 

Samuel MorseThose 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.

22 Comments

  1. MsX
    April 24, 2007 at 8:10 am

    When I click on the link to Matt’s favorite Library image, my browser says “loading” but it never comes up.

  2. Wes Thorp
    April 24, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Congratulations to the Library of Congress for its new blog. As a member of the first class of baby-boomers, I recognize the speeding changes in the way information is handled and interacted with.

    I look forward to putting your blog in my RSS feedreader and I will check it everyday.

    Thanks for taking this step and I will share this development with my growing network of friends and colleagues in the blogosphere.

    WES THORP

  3. Barry Reichenbaugh
    April 24, 2007 at 9:15 am

    It’s great to see blogging put to use by the government. The page looks great, good luck!

  4. Matt Raymond
    April 24, 2007 at 9:22 am

    MsX, hopefully that was just a momentary glitch.

  5. Judy O’Connell
    April 24, 2007 at 9:44 am

    The Library of Congress is a “big” name in the world of libraries. Welcome to the Blogosphere from one small librarian blogging Australian Librarian.

  6. Ryan Deschamps
    April 24, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Welcome to the (biblio) blogosphere and I look forward to seeing what’s going on in the LOC world.

  7. Laura Crossett
    April 24, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Another welcome to the biblioblogosphere! I love the LoC.

  8. Connie Crosby
    April 24, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Welcome! It is terrific to see the Library of Congress blogging. Your voice seems to hit just the right tone, Raymond.

    I have covered your new blog on our Canadian legal research and technology blog Slaw:
    http://www.slaw.ca/2007/04/24/now-blogging-library-of-congress/

    Cheers!
    Connie

  9. David Bigwood
    April 24, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Not so sure that for more information on topics sending someone off to a Technorati search on that term is the best idea. Surely there are more authorative introductory sites. Heck, even Wikipedia would be a better choice.

  10. Matt Raymond
    April 24, 2007 at 11:29 am

    David, thanks for the comment, which is well taken. Perhaps I can ask our technical folks if they could change it to something more anodyne, such as “Technorati tags.” It is, after all, mainly a mechanism to ensure that the posts become seen more widely.

  11. Ellen
    April 24, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Looking forward to reading… however, could you please make your RSS feed full-text? Thanks!

  12. David Russell
    April 24, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Wow. I am thrilled to see the Library of Congress move into this form of communication. And I appreciate the opportunity to interact through commentary as well.

    Best of luck in this new endeavor. I have a feeling it will be received well by the worldwide community.

  13. Memo Cordova
    April 24, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Fantastic news! Ditto on having full-text RSS.

  14. Rob Darrow
    April 24, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Welcome to the blogosphere! It is always wonderful to hear from the LOC…and the outstanding things you do to connect your unparalleled resources with educators. Hope to hear some LOC podcasts as well.

  15. K.G. Schneider
    April 24, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    This blog is surely the North star of the uber-biblioblogosphere. Mazel tov on this venture!

  16. Leo Klein
    April 24, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    Just go ahead and do it!

    The ‘grand “mission statement”‘ can wait.

  17. EW
    April 25, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    “LOC blog.” Is this an oxymoron?

  18. Laura G
    April 26, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Welcome to the blogosphere, LOC! I’m looking forward to reading more.

    One thing: I really wish people would stop using the term “drank the Kool-Aid.” It seems ridiculous and morbid to compare starting a blog to the Jonestown suicides.

  19. Don
    June 27, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Now this is what I call tax money well spent!! Something that I can actually use and that’s a benefit for my fellow American.

    Thanks for adding a blog to the site.

  20. The Electronics Age by TJ
    December 31, 2007 at 5:11 am

    As goverment continues to move forward so does the need for technology. Electronics and the transfer of electronic content is evolving faster than most branches of our government can grasp.

    Love the post and the info your providing.

  21. sinema
    July 28, 2008 at 9:49 am

    blog’s page is so good thank you loc.

  22. Kaye
    June 5, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    I enjoyed this article. I loved the quote you shared at the beginning. It was interesting to learn that the Library of Congress was producing electronic content so early. As a member of the Baby Boomer Generation, it’s been fun watching this tech history unfold before our very eyes 🙂

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