High Strangeness: The Blue Book Blues

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Blue Book Blues

I think that right now a lot of us in UFO land wish we could travel back in time two weeks, to when the world was innocent and unspoiled, and researching the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book UFO case files was fun, free and easy. Well, ok, it wasn't always easy, but it was fun and free.

Back then, in those simpler, carefree times, students of UFO lore like myself could visit www.bluebookarchive.org or www.fold3.com to read Project Blue Book case files to our hearts' content, or until our significant others told us to turn the damn lights off and get to bed. Then, on January 12th, just two weeks ago as I write this, in an interview with UFO news website OpenMinds.tv, John Greenewald announced that he had 1) filed Freedom of Information Act requests to get access to 130,000 pages of documents in the Project Blue Book files, and 2) made those files in their entirety available "in a straight forward, easily searchable database."

The money quote, to me, is right here:
INTERVIEWER: "Why have (the Blue Book files) not been available online for free until now?
GREENEWALD: "To convert and archive 130,000 pages is no easy task.  There are some sites that tried to create the archive… but really didn’t gear it towards the researcher or the investigator.  Some charge for the information (if it’s even complete), others make it hard to download or read, and others are just incomplete."

Get that? The interviewer asked a question that was formulated on an incorrect assumption: that the files had never been available online for free until now. Now, it seems to me that the correct response would have been, "Whoa, hold it right there, pal, I never said they weren't available online for free up until now! They have in fact been available for free from two different websites for many years. I have simply attempted to make that same information more complete and more useable. There is no need to make a big fuss over this!"

Then the interviewer might have asked, "Okay, but if this information has been available online for free for several years, what's all this about you filing all these FOIA requests to get this information out in the open?"

Now anyone can learn about UFOs! ...or can they?
(And then, if I had been there, I would have asked, "But if you wanted to make the information more complete, why is a document on your website redacted when the identical document at www.bluebookarchive.org is not?")

God knows what the correct response would have been after that, but I'm pretty sure the whole thing would have ended right there, and not become the latest in a long line of self-immolating public embarrassments to the UFO community.

But no, the news grew and spread and grew and spread until every human being on earth knew, or thought they knew, that the Project Blue Book files had just been declassified by the Air Force and made available to the public online for free for the very first time ever.

And that's where it stood until last night when the files were suddenly and mysteriously not newly available to the public for the very first time. Yes, the Black Vault had gone black, at least where the Project Blue Book files were concerned... And today we learn that some sort of copyright infringement action is allegedly in the works from Ancestry.com, owner of Fold3...

Which is just fantastic news for anyone who believes these records should be available to the public for free, isn't it?

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