Saturday, July 5, 2014

Famous minds donating their papers could become a thing of the past

As writing and editing have shifted to personal computers, a lot of documents that used to be put on paper have become electronic.
Authors, academics, scientists and others no longer need to have reams of paper notes and drafts of their works.
Researchers historically have been interested in early drafts and notes for key documents from famous people to divine their thought processes. It is common for great minds to donate their papers to universities, libraries or museums.
But the age of paper appears to be coming to an end, including all those works in progress. With PCs, many writers edit as they go and delete early drafts and notes as unnecessary clutter.
You still read about famous people donating their papers, but they’re mostly old timers.
For instance, on June 19, retiring University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy, a long-time fixture of Canadian politics, donated his personal papers to the university, the Winnipeg Free Press reported. Axworthy is 74.
In October 2010, poet and author Maya Angelou donated about 340 boxes full of her personal papers to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. Angelou died May 28 at age 86.
Author Gore Vidal donated his papers to the Harvard College Library in February 2002. Vidal died in July 2012 at the age of 86.
Pioneering figures in the video game industry lately have been donating their personal papers to the Strong National Museum of Play. They include Don Daglow, creator of the influential games “Utopia” (1981) and “Neverwinter Nights” (1991); Dan Bunten, creator of the landmark multiplayer online game “M.U.L.E.” (1983); and Will Wright, creator of the SimCity, Sims and Spore family of “god games.”
Will future creatives and intellectuals have the same amount of paper documents? If not, will there be better archiving of electronic correspondence and documents in the years ahead? One would hope.

Photo: Picture of Will Wright’s notebooks.

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