The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Digitization
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
- By the way there's something in the closet - The story of the Armstrong Purse, its discovery, and the objects contained within. [via AirSpace blog, NASM]
- Leave those selfie sticks at home - Smithsonian museums and museums across the globe are starting to impose restrictions on the use of selfie sticks. [via ABC News]
- Hey don't throw that one away - Charles Darwin's childrens' drawings on the back of some of the pages from his manuscript draft of his On the Origin of Species kept those manuscripts from being discarded. [via Washington Post]
- Love is in the air at the National Museum of Natural History as their scientists there are helping species look for love in a series of “dating profiles” to celebrate Valentine's Day. [via Unearthed blog, NMNH]
- This just in - The Freer Gallery of Art will be closed for a year for major rennovations starting in January 2016. [via Smithsonian Newsdesk]
- Experiments in reposting - Here is what happens when you repost the same image to Instagram 90 times. [via PetaPixel]
- A thrill and sense of responsibility - Reflections on organizing the Rosa Parks Collection at the Library of Congress. [via Library of Congress blog]
- Now available at the New York Public Library - The papers of Tom Wolfe, the author of The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities, among others. [via the NYPL blog]
- Inspired by love? Say it with Shakespeare with these Shakespeare Valentines. [via Folger Shakespeare Library]
- 3D scanning and the Transcription Center at the Smithsonian are in the news. [via CBS 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]
- 20 years in the making - Charle's Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" is finally back on the ground at the National Air and Space Museum as it undergoes preservation work. [via The Torch, SI]
- These new videos shows you how to engage student with arts. [via The Getty Iris]
- Found in the archives - A glass ampoule containing an early sample of a cholera vaccine. [via The Times of Israel]
- New content online - Louisiana Digital Media Archive; Wikimedia Commons adds 100,000 medical history images from The Wellcome Library; The Whiteny Museum of Art puts online 21,000 works of American art; and Pond5 launched a searchable collection of 80,000 public domain videos, images, and 3D models. [via InfoDocket and OpenCulture]
- Archiving the web with the Internet Archive. [via The New Yorker]
- Revealed at least - 31 undeveloped rolls of film shot by a solder during World War II is processed. [via PetaPixel]
- During the first snow of 2015, the National Zoo's giant panda cub, Bao Bao, displayed the joy of experiencing snow for the first time. [via Smithsonian Science]
- Coming to a reading room soon - The American Library Association published a report on the need to develop policies regarding 3D printing in libraries. [via InfoDocket]
- The "Ansel Adams Act" went to Congress last week and aims to ensure that photography in public spaces is not prohibited, that the government will not charge photographers to shoot on public land, and that photographic equipment cannot be seized or tampered with. [via PetaPixel]
- The Digital Public Library of American (DPLA) recently announced a new strategic plan. [via InfoDocket]
- Talk about acceleration - A cheetah does 0-60 faster than a Ferrari or Lamborghini! [via Core77]
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