Re: archiving poetry, etc....
Re: archiving poetry, etc....
Putting aside discussion of the legality of distributing Ra poetry electronically, there's an interesting paradigm in existence for transferring paper-based materials to electronic format, and I think it's perfect for those of us on Saturn.
Some of you may be familiar with Project Gutenberg. Essentially, this is a long-term effort to make all public-domain (i.e. copyrights have expired, etc.) literature available in basic electronic format via the Internet. They have little or no funding, no hired staff, etc. The way they get paper documents into electronic format is by simply asking volunteers to enter the information into their computers. If everyone on the Internet typed one page of a book into a word processor each week, a vast library could be constructed very quickly and made available to everyone. This has proven to be fairly successful. Once the information is "digitized", it is sent to a central server that is available to everyone on the Internet.
Applying this to Ra's poetry...maybe each of us take a few poems and key them in? Once we have "all" the poetry in a format we can look at on computer, we can investigate the issues surrounding the legality of publishing them on the Internet, and (ideally) work out a scheme for compensating the Arkestra. An interesting model for compensation may be the "shareware" software idea, whereby the "product" is made widely available to anyone who wants it, but people who make use of it and like it are asked to voluntarily send money to the person who produced it. This is completely on the honor system, but there are many shareware companies that make a nice living doing this. Evidently, people out there will pay a small amount to someone who provides them with something they want (novel concept, eh?). I would imagine that people who are interested in Sun Ra would be even more inclined to do this. Perhaps the money from this could be sent to a trust fund for the Arkestra, to be administered by someone of their choosing. Or maybe it could go into a general fund to support performance expenses, etc. Lots of possibilities.
In the end, it would be great to establish a Sun Ra Worldwide Web site, which could include all known text, images, video, sound, etc. Essentially, everything we all have and are willing to share with the world. As Trudy mentions, this beats a physical library in that the info is available to everyone who has this level of access to the Internet (the fastest growing thing on the Internet).
I'm not overly technical, but if there is interest in all this, here's what I'm willing to do:
Receive the computerized Ra poetry via email (from all of you), and regularly publish an index of what we have and what we don't so people will know what to key in.
Investigate the possibility of adding this digitized information to an existing Internet server (ftp, gopher, maybe even Web). The key to this will be to find a site that will let us put this information on their server AT NO COST. I don't want to be responsible for anything that will cost money. There are several ftp servers on the Internet that contain lyrics for songs; perhaps we can carve out a section on one of these and make the poetry/lyrics available? Worth investigating.
Others who are more in touch with such things will have to look into the legal issues, and think about ways to help compensate the Arkestra. For me, this is an absolute prerequisite for "publishing" these digitized poems on the Internet. I firmly believe in upholding laws surrounding intellectual property.
Sorry for the lengthy email, but this seems to me a good project to work on. And probably not that difficult to achieve given the expansion of the Internet and the tools becoming available. Let me know if you want me to follow-up.
Trudy Morse wrote:
Peter, I am so overwhelmed what can be done on computer! Can we get the poetry on computer? And coded? I have hundreds of poems. What is involved in this? The poems are all neatly typed and indexed, by Sun Ra. Trudy
Trudy, I think there are several possibilities for getting typewritten stuff put on computer. Unfortunately, I personally know very little about database management. I'm good at handling large volumes of earthquake data (that's my professional bag), but when it comes to archiving and maintaining anything a human being can read, I'm at a loss. If Sun Ra's poems are neatly typed, there's a chance the typewritten sheets can be electronically scanned and converted into so-called ASCII text files. These files could then be put into a format that would be relatively easy to build into a so-called relational database (that's basically a large volume of individual entries that can be assigned identifying attributes that make cross-referencing, etc. easy). I get the impression that something like this may have been used in the Geerken/Hefele book? I suppose that if the copyright issues are ever resolved, the poetry database could be made available as a home page on the World-Wide-Web? Anyway, I have an old friend from MIT who's now in Boulder. He's an expert in computerized database stuff. I could give him a call if you like. He's a long-time jazz fan (not sure how devoted he is to Sun Ra, though) and I'll bet he would have some good ideas about the best system to use for such a task.