A Virtual Trip: New Grateful Dead Digital Archive Launches

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Now everyone can be that crazed Dead fan you once knew in college.

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Dude, who knew Jerry Garcia was ever young? (Grateful Dead Archive Online)

No band deserves an online archive more than the Grateful Dead. As much lifestyle as musical outfit, the Dead influenced millions through their concerts and songs. A few years ago, the band selected the University of California Santa Cruz as the host for its history, and now the first fruits of that decision are available for consumption. The Grateful Dead Online Archive is now live.

The expansive archive has a map of hundreds and hundreds of shows, thousands of photographs and show posters, and -- in keeping with the band's community orientation -- tons of fan art.

Even as a very weak Dead fan, this is an impressive monument to one of the banner carriers of 20th century counterculture.

As a sidenote, I'm left wondering what it's like to be a kid developing her music taste these days. I had a friend in high school who compulsively traded Dead show tapes with people across the country in the early days of the Internet. He loved scoring that ultrarare tape almost no one had ever heard.

Now, if you were that same kid, you have the whole culture of the Dead just waiting for you on this one website. It's amazing, but I wonder if it takes something out of fandom if it's a little too easy to access. You want to have to work for the knowledge that the best Dead show ever was on May 8, 1977 at Barton Hall on Cornell's campus.


If you want the whole story on the Grateful Dead archive, check out Joshua Green's 2010 Atlantic feature on the Santa Cruz project.
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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