With the advent of the internet, blogs, email commerce and all that goes with it and all the good things that have come from it, there are aspects of the internet and our relationship to electronic communication that are short-circuiting life.
I was reminded of this over the weekend when I went to a conference in Madison, Wisconsin that was sponsored by three rather obscure organizations: The Fossils, the National Amateur Press Association and the American Amateur Press Association. The gathering was hosted by Memorial Library at the University of Wisconsin. The event was nothing glitzy. Rather, it was a down-home get together by around thirty people who all share a common passion–the desire to communicate, the desire to write about things that intrigue them and the desire to share their thoughts and passions with others.
If you’re not familiar with these organizations, that’s understandable. They are niche groups of people, mostly from the United States but also from isolated places around the globe, who have been sharing their ideas with like-minded individuals for going on a century. They are amateur journalists, amateur printers, amateur publishers—for the most part, not in the mainstream of any of these three professions. But among them are some rather fascinating individuals, the kind of people who are worth knowing, worth learning from, and worth enjoying life with. The price of membership in these organizations is inexpensive and designed primarily to cover the costs of sending their publications to one another. What a bargain!
The event included a fund-raising silent auction designed to help fund the collecting, cataloging and storing publications of amateur journalists. There for bidding were books, magazines, broadsides, and a smattering of type and presses, all related somehow to the passions of the people gathered at the library. I don’t know how much money ultimately was collected from the auction, but the three groups have gathered most of the $10,000 needed to fund the library’s work. In truth, what these groups have accomplished is remarkable. But even more remarkable is the dedication of the people involved to keep their tradition and their work alive in a world that seems to be passing them by.
But is it really leaving them behind, or are they Jeremiahs pointing a way beyond the ethereal blips on screens that represent much of today’s “communication?” Tomorrow, where will all of our blogs and emails be? Where will the electronic magazines and newspapers of today be found tomorrow? Sent and gone, perhaps gone forever. But in the stacks of the library at the University of Wisconsin those little four-page “flimsies” and the more substantial booklets created by these amateurs will be waiting for readers who want to explore the world through our eyes.
For people interested in learning more about these groups here are some contact addresses:
American Amateur Press Association website@AAPAinfo.org
National Amateur Press Association Secretary-Treasurer@AmateurPress.org.
The Fossils firstname.lastname@example.org
Until later . . .