Category: Frippery

The Wire and digital curation


Everyone thinks The Wire is a sprawling visual novel on the decline of the American city. It’s not. It’s actually a cautionary allegory about the importance of digital preservation and data management. The case for the defence? These epigraphs at least…

“…and all the pieces matter.” – Freamon (it’s a broad, collaborative process)
“How come they don’t fly away?” – Ziggy (well, sometimes they do)
“The world is a smaller place now.” – The Greek (so we share and communicate more readily)
“I need to get clean.” – Sobotka (gloss: you should see the state of my hard drive)
“Don’t matter how many times you get burnt, you just keep doin’ the same.” – Bodie (collectively, the HE sector)
“The Gods will not save you.” – Burrell (…or your data?)
“Conscience do cost.” – Butchie (Ain’t no free [in data management] – Avon)
“Crawl, walk, and then run.” – Clay Davis (a little data management is better than none)
“…while you’re waiting for moments that never come.” – Freamon (do something now, not everything later)
“No one wins. One side just loses more slowly.” – Prez (the pessimist’s view of bit rot)
“Aw yeah. That golden rule.” – Bunk (this line is clearly about metadata, right?)
“We got our thing, but it’s just part of the big thing.” – Zenobia (and all the pieces matter…)
“Might as well dump ’em, get another.” – Proposition Joe (on the growing impermanence of storage media: floppy discs? USB drives? laptops? smartphones?)
“…the life of kings.” – H.L. Mencken (errrrm….)

Of course there’s also all the stuff about the police chiefs and politicians massaging the crime stats etc. Anyway, if I had a spiderbag for every time I’d heard one of these during the course of my duties, I’d be one high digital curator.

(Image from Nick Hall,