The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Web/Tech
- The delights of browsing the National Park Service's B-roll video archive. [via Motherboard]
- Now available online - University of North Carolina archaeologists and librarians produce an online catalog of artifacts. [via InfoDocket]
- Now you don't see that everyday - A CT scan of a 1,000-year-old Buddha statue shows the mummified remains of a monk inside along with rolls of paper scraps with Chinese writing where his organs would be. [via Colossal]
- Accessing the inaccessible - Drones used to create a 3D model of Christ the Redeemer statue on top of Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. [via The Verge]
- 40 years in the making - A brief history of the building of the Washington Monument. [via The Libray of Congress blog]
- The National Museum of African American History and Culture published a new book, Through the African American Lens, that offer iconic images of black culture, activism and community in America. [via Time]
- New blog alert - bloggERS! - the new blog of the Society of American Archivists' Electronic Records Section. [via Lynda Schmitz Fuhrig, SIA]
- A piece of photography history - a 19th century photo album by Oscar Gustave Rejlander has been sold, but the United Kingdom has put an export ban on it in the hopes of keeping it within the UK. [via PetaPixel]
- For those of you old enough to remember - A look at a technological icon - The fax machine. [via BBC Future]
- That's Awesome! - An entomologist at the Natural History Museum in London is using LEGOs to build a device that holds fragile insect specimens. [via The Atlantic]
What happens when an organization turns to the Internet 'crowd' for help to make its online collections as accessible as possible? The Archives is several years into its crowd-sourcing initiatives: tagging photographs and solving mysteries on Flickr Commons and transcribing text-oriented materials on the Smithsonian Transcription Center. Our goals are focused on enabling people to virtually look inside these materials and apply data mining and other techniques, enriching and speeding their own work.
In just the past 18 months, over two thousand new volunteers plus an untold number of anonymous contributors have given us a big boost, and the results are remarkable. While the quality and quantity of the effort is impressive – over 300 transcription projects and hundreds more photos available to tag on the Flickr Commons, I am more excited by how I see volunteers' passion for knowledge grow, having an empowering and domino effect.
Looking for the Inside Stories
As the institutional archives documenting the Smithsonian's history of acquiring and disseminating knowledge, we hold a wide variety of both scientific and humanities oriented primary source material that reflects that diversity of the Smithsonian's activities from its earliest days over 169 years ago.
As we selected material for our digital volunteers, I expected them to engage with it, gaining insight and appreciation for the personal efforts and experiences of the individuals behind them. However, volunteers soon uncovered additional, noteworthy individuals and events buried inside those texts.
Going one step further, they began to find connections between different Archives projects, such as the professional and personal relationships between scientists and examples of their work.
Amidst all of these discoveries, the depth of access these volunteers have helped us create has enabled researchers to include these historical sources in computer-driven longitudinal studies.
#WeLearnTogether: The Domino Effect
#welearntogether is a Twitter hash tag these 'volunpeers' have taken to when discussing the projects they are working on. It reflects the community culture we have striven for since the first days of our crowd-sourcing initiatives. So what's this domino effect?
Domino 1: Our volunpeers are using the information they have found, finding links to data held by museums, libraries, and archives at the Smithsonian and helping us to connect those resources to each other.
Domino 2: The volunteers are reaching out to other organizations, and sharing what they have learned so those organizations, too, can update and enrich their own information catalogs. These include JSTOR and the United States National Herbarium.
In the end, the knowledge of our collections has grown, their accessibility improved, resulting in tangible benefits for today’s and tomorrow’s Smithsonian collections users. It is so rewarding to watch these volunteers’ voyages of discovery stoke a passion to discover more and fire an enthusiasm about these collections that has proven to be contagious.
- Record Unit 7148 - David Crockett Graham Papers, 1923-1936, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Record Unit 7272 - Frederick Vernon Coville Papers, 1888-1936 and undated, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Record Unit 7267 - Vernon Orlando Bailey Papers, 1889-1941 and undated, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Record Unit 7417 - Florence Merriam Bailey Papers, 1865-1942, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- This week billions of people around the world celebrated the Lunar New Year on February 19. For the Chinese, 2015 is the year of the Ram and one of the traditions that go along with celebrating the New Year is the lion dance. Photographer Jason Lam's project, "Inside the Lion," captures the people behind the lion costume. [via Lens blog, NYT]
- Here is a list of children's books about Chinese New Year from the New York Public Library. [via New York Public Library blog]
- A peak at an interesting portrait of Dr. George Washington Carver at the National Museum of American History. [via O Say Can You See? blog, NMAH]
- Chicken wire, a seemingly common place material, is transformed by artist, Kendra Haste, into remarkably real sculptures of animals. [via Colossal]
- With 20 percent of entries disqualified from the World Press Photo competition for excessive post-processing, a debate about the rules and ethics in digital photojournalism. [via Lens blog, NYT]
- Technology and art meet in the attempt to identify a portrait as that of Anne Boleyn, queen to King Henry VIII, through the use of facial recognition software. [via The Guardian]
- The British Library's Endangered Archives Program released more than 500,000 additonal images online this week, adding to those already online for a total of more than 4 million images available from a variety of collections. [via InfoDocket]
- Archives, libraries, and museums are fighting to prevent the kinds of loss from the "Digital Dark Age" as discussed by internet pioneer, Vint Cerf, at the recent conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, by developing tools to preserve and make accessible our digital history. [via BBC News]
- Smithsonian in London? - Just maybe as the Smithsonian's Board of Regents have agreed to proceed with negotiations to have an exhibition space in the redevelopment of the former Olympic Park in East London as part of a proposed new educational and cultural quarter in the city. [via The Torch, Smithsonian Institution]
- Privacy, responsibily and electronic records are in the news at the University of Oregon where 22,000 emails from the President's office were released. [via InfoDocket]
- A behind the scenes look on what it takes to put on the Smithsonian Gardens' orchid show at the National Museum of Natural History. [via Smithsonian Gardens blog]
- Here comes the boom - NASA has made available online a collection of space sounds. [via Open Culture]
- It takes a lot to put together an exhibition, here are five things Jennifer Levasseur learned while curating the exhibition, Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity, at the National Air and Space Museum. [via AirSpace blog, NASM]
- The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has released an API to grant developers programmatic access to its collection. [via InfoDocket]
- With a little thing called the Super Bowl happening this weekend, here is the trailer for a film about the four photographers who have photographed every Super Bowl. [via PetaPixel]
Social media, blogs, and websites dominate our lives. A Pew 2014 social media survey found that among American adults 18 and older, 58 percent use Facebook, 23 percent use LinkedIn, and 19 percent use Twitter.
A few years ago I wrote about organizing and maintaining digital images and now seems like a good time to expand on that topic. Do your digital efforts include capturing or archiving your own social media accounts, especially when one considers all the time and effort that can be invested in them?
There are plenty of tools and information available online about social media archiving for businesses, institutions, and government agencies to fulfill legal regulations and recordkeeping requirements. For the individual interested in being digitally responsible and saving their online digital footprint, this information is not always so evident.
While this is not a complete list here are some options:
Facebook offers a download feature for users when logged into their personal account. It includes your uploaded videos, photos, posts, and even ads you clicked on. This data can be important if you are a longtime and frequent user of Facebook and use it like a public diary. Old Dominion University also developed a Firefox plugin that also pulls your Facebook data for you.
While the Library of Congress is archiving every public tweet from Twitter, account holders can request all their tweets via Twitter settings. Please note that it might take a few days for the archive to be created. It contains your own tweets and retweets in JSON and CSV formats. It does not include deleted tweets or direct messages. Public tweets dating back to 2006 on Twitter also have been searchable since November 2014.
In terms of accounts such as Flickr, Instagram and YouTube, it is wise to save a copy of your important images and video to a reliable medium, such as a hard drive that is backed up regularly. Cloud storage is another option.
Websites and blogs can be handled in a few ways. One option is to create a PDF of the site or the pages. Web pages also can be saved to HTML within browsers but this can be time-consuming. Some blog platforms have export options to save to XML.
If you are not inclined to install a web crawler on your own to capture content, the Internet Archive accepts web pages to be crawled, if allowed by the site, and displays it via its Wayback Machine. Keep in mind this option does not provide you your own copy on your computer but is a place online that provides a snapshot in time of the site. This is handy when a web page is cited in a publication since the Wayback Machine URI will not change of the capture even if the live page is removed.
Anthologize is a WordPress plugin that allows you to take blog content and compile it as a single volume. It can then be saved as PDF, ePUB, or TEI (an open XML format for storage and exchange). Staff from the Archives was involved in its development as part of the One Week/One Tool project.
And while we are still in the first month of the new year, consider changing all of your account passwords, if not done regularly. News stories of system hacks are a regular occurrence now. Not only can information be stolen but also deleted or altered. Having your own data in some form could take some of the sting out of an unfortunate incident.
- You Asked, We Answered: 2014 Archives Facebook Q&A, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- You Asked, We Answered: Archives Facebook Q&A, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Personal Digital Archiving: Preserving Your Digital Memories, Library of Congress
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