The Stanford Libraries are honoring the life’s work of leading green thinker William McDonough by naming him the world’s first “digital living archive”! In an innovative and modern approach, the libraries will acquire the leading environmental architect’s archives, which will include everything from hard copies to digital files and even his Tweets! This expansive collection will help future generations understand the creative mind of McDonough.

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Managed by Roberto Trujillo, the head of the Stanford University Libraries, McDonough’s living archive will not only incorporate his past projects, essays, activities and writings, but also include a real-time archive, adding events as they happen. This is where Twitter, the most modern and concise form of social media, comes into play. McDonough’s Tweets, insightful or not, will be recorded and archived, creating a freeform resource of the thinker’s passing thoughts, interests and recommended reading.

“It’s obviously a great honour for me to think that what I do might be of interest. The project builds on the tradition of people leaving their work or their records to the next generation. What’s particularly fascinating is making the information available while I’m still alive,” McDonough told Inhabitat.

“I am especially excited about their interest in new ways of archiving and looking forward to working with their team. We are doing something new here. It’s not just pulling the past into the present. We are pulling the present into the future,” he added.

The archive will cover the forty years of research during McDonough’s professional career, and continually build as he creates projects in the future. Material will be built up in an open-source system by creators, archivists and a selected group of contributors appointed by Stanford.  The archive will eventually be available to researchers as a digital library, accessible from everywhere.

“We see the possibility to capture not just the writings and artifacts but the activities and conversations of a designer and thought leader—and the many influential individuals he works with—as they happen,” said Roberto Trujillo, head of the Stanford University Libraries’ Special Collections. “It’s a real-time archive.”

McDonough’s archive will be the first of its kind for Stanford, including the ever-expanding work of a living environmental leader, and also to count social media as an important information source. Stanford also acquired the personal archives of Buckminster Fuller in 1999, which has been its most extensive personal archive to date.

+ The Stanford Libraries