The Digital Archive of Japan’s 2011 Disasters, metaLAB’s collaboration with our friends at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, is representative of our efforts to build a state-of-the-art archive of an event hovering in the limbo between the “historical” and the “unfinished and underway.” Built on a multi-pronged partnership with such collaborators as the Diet National Library of Japan, the Sendai Mediatheque, and Yahoo Japan, assembling everything from photographs shot by ordinary citizens to twitter feeds to websites, the project sets out to devise a living record of this year’s devastating events that will serve a varied population of end users: everyone from the relief worker who needs information about a shelter whose location has changed, to an ordinary citizen grappling with the destruction of her village, to the historian who,

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fifty years from now, seeks to analyze the long-standing demographic effects of the 2011 earthquake and the ensuing nuclear accident. Content is being actively assembled by the project partners, but is also being actively solicited by means of a website located at The project was recently presented at the All311 Archive Project Symposium by my colleague Andrew Gordon and was very well received. The following clip tracks a worker involved in relief efforts through the (future) site.

Relief Worker (Lang: English) from metaLAB(at)Harvard on Vimeo.

Here’s another user scenario, this one involving a scholar.

学者/Scholar (日本語 /Japanese) from metaLAB(at)Harvard on Vimeo.

- October 11, 2011