Building a “citizen’s archive” of the RNC


Nigel Parry wasn’t arrested, harassed or gassed during the RNC. But he was affected.

At the Tilsner Artists’ Cooperative, where he’s lived on and off over the years, he shared a room a friend was renting out to people working for Indy Media and the Glass Bead Collective. “I spent the week with extremely freaked out and justifiably paranoid independent media people.”

He was getting “fog of war” reports all week. It was difficult to get the big picture — it still is.

So Parry — a songwriter, photojournalist and web designer — started a paper archive of everything that happened outside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. “I printed everything from Star Tribune reports to St. Paul City Council minutes.”

People he met during the convention who had stayed in town to work on a documentary about the RNC kept asking him about one document or another. “Finally I just decided to gather everything online.”

Parry has experience with this. He co-founded the website Electronic Intifada after his experiences in the West Bank. To this day, the site is an always-current archive of events in Palestine — often written by Palestinians themselves.

Parry’s current endeavor is RNC ‘08 Report. He calls it “a citizen’s archive of media reports, government documents and other resources.”

His collection, he insists, “is unprejudiced — it’s the widest possible range of sources because that’s what will be the most helpful. I’ve archived the Twitter feeds and I’ve archived Department of Defense press releases about the deployment of the national guard. I’ve got city press releases on the arrests of the RNC 8 and the press releases of the RNC Welcoming Committee.”

He’s still furiously adding to the site and wants people to tell him what he’s missing. His vision is nothing short of a total archive.

“The goal,” he says, “is clarity.”