posted on Jul, 21 2011 @ 05:59 PM
There is no doubt that it would be a good idea to backup and/or mirror this site. I've spent some time on the Blue Book documents myself here at ATS
as a Document Archivist. As a librarian I know that this massive amount of material is quite useless unless it is properly classified (in the sense of
organization, nor in the sense of security) and retrievable via many different methods. We've seen some methods here already to scrape the documents
off that site (thus overloading their servers, slowing them down, and likely angering the hosts), but as I believe has been stated, hundreds of
thousands of documents sitting on a hard drive is just the start of the work. Until they are both organized and easily available, you've got a real
mess on your hands.
And it begs several questions.
First, I'm pretty certain the resulting "quagmire on a disk" will be full of thousands upon thousands of documents that say something like, "Two
B-29 crews saw a fast-moving object traveling in a northeasterly direction the night of July 21st." In going through the Blue Book items, the amount
of information per report is even less. Most of them are of the "I saw a light in the sky!" variety. There certainly is a lot of information, but
it's not quality information. In fact, it's very tedious. So my question is, what is going through this stuff going to do for us? Is the idea to
look for some sort of smoking gun memo ala Twining? Is this a search and recover mission more than an attempt at preservation? And might you not want
ALL the documents at all given the lack of information in most of them?
Secondly, as I alluded to above, the bigger problem is presentation. If we're to go from an organized searchable database to an unorganized
unsearchable collection of material, we've lost the most important part of the archive. The question here is, how are we going to preserve any sense
of presentability to the data?
Thirdly, athough grabbing that stuff is certainly reducing the risk of its demise, what good is it sitting on a hard drive? Unless we can make this
stuff easily available, it's not disclosed at all. Who knows how large a file it is in total, but my guess is it would take several DVD-sized discs
to store it all. That means going into production to some extent, setting up a distribution mechanism so people can procur a set for themselves.
In the final analysis it seems to me that the best place for this stuff is an easily accessible, searchable location that requires the least work. In
other words, a web site. And, of course, it's already there. So if the idea is to make a better site than the one it is on now, that means a very
different project and skill set than the idea of grabbing that stuff off of the existing site. So I think some clarification of intent is necessary
here. What is the end result you would like to see and how will that help?