Issue 5 ran from 16 January 2013 to 17 April 2013.

Here’s What We Got

Every archive has an intended logic, a day logic, with well-defined topics, alphabetical orderings, hierarchical taxonomies, or cross-referenced indexes. At night we see less of what is intended and more of what is there.

Having a family with secrets will turn a child into a detective.

Hello and welcome to our Dark Archives tour. Please make yourself as comfortable as you can.

This seems too simple to have to say, but sadly it has to be said: if you are in the business of selling fiction, your website should have fiction on it.

Every society fears a new technology, and when it eventually embraces it, it does it by declaring the death of the previous technology (which never dies completely) and adapts the vocabulary of the previous technology for its own uses. And yet, both in Socrates’ case, and in the case of the electronic technology, our active memory is threatened if we allow an instrument to do the memorizing for us.

In this kind of book club, you’re welcome any time, and there’s no “too late.” The Library at Night is a book for magpies and meanderers, so there are no plot points to spoil: the dinner party is distributed.

As writers, we research in-depth features, sure—but we blog to fill time between features, and we tweet to fill time between blog posts. As readers, we pull-refresh and pull-refresh again, awaiting the news like a child up too early on Christmas morning.

A digital collection still needs a story to support outside interest, something stronger than “full-text searchable.” Without curation, what’s the difference between a digital archive and the rest of the internet?

What if intertexts could be invisible unless you were looking for them, so you could read without noticing them or mouse carefully over every word looking for clues? What if intertexts could overwrite, fade, or push aside the text at hand? What if the text could fight back?

This exhibition of items from Miss Windhill’s personal collection is held in conjunction with the announcement of the first holder of the position of Windhill Storyteller-in-Residence.

What kind of archive emerges during an event? What kind of archive seeks to gather items largely already indexed by web crawlers and already accessible—or theoretically accessible—to millions? And what kind of archive includes holdings that may suddenly vanish?

This system, in outline, “starts” where the library is, in San Francisco, and “ends” in outer space. Its rough structure moves from place-based subjects to the made worlds of art, media, and culture, to abstracts like society and philosophy, to space exploration.

The real issue, of course, is that we need to convene and decide how deeply we want to connect culture and property. And when we’ve settled on a particular mix, we might think about whether it maximizes our freedom to speak, to learn, and to inquire—in short, whether it leads to the kind of world we’d want to live in.

The Appendix is a new online journal collecting documents, stories, and analyses that might otherwise slip away. We recently spoke with the editorial and creative team behind the journal about their choices and motivations, and what we can expect to see as their project comes of age.

In the Contents book club, we’ll be experimenting a lot, pulling in streams of highlights and commentary from Readmill, Kindles, tweets, and blog posts.

A Bit More About This Issue

Each issue of Contents runs for about eight weeks, with new articles appearing once a week during the issue’s run.

Our previous issue, “Form,” ran from 25 July 2012 to 4 October 2012, and included Allen Tan’s “Made to Measure,” Robin Sloan’s “House of Cards,” and a trio of articles on the changing form of booksnewspapers, and websites.

Not sure where to begin? Our most popular articles include Paul Ford’s “10 Timeframes, Angela Colter’s “The Audience You Didn’t Know You Had,” and Mandy Brown’s “Babies and the Bathwater.” You might also wish to explore our featuresfield reports, or columns.

This issue was illustrated by Rob Weychert. Rob is a freelance graphic designer working in pixels and occasionally print, and writes about music, film, and design at his website.