A Virtual Trip: New Grateful Dead Digital Archive Launches

By Alexis C. Madrigal

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/a-virtual-trip-new-grateful-dead-digital-archive-launches/259218/