The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Web/Tech
For years office workers, college students, and others relied on saving their electronic documents to 5.25” floppy disks and then to 3.5” diskettes. These documents were typically small word-processing or datasheets, as a floppy would only hold about 160 kb to 1.2 mb of data, and the PC home user was not creating and storing the gigabytes of audio, video and image files that are commonplace today. The 5.25” became obsolete in the early 1990s, but as you might guess, they still show up to this day at the Archives. There are about 400 of them in our collections, which also include the 3.5” diskettes, ZIP disks, CDs, DVDs, external drives, and USB flash drives.
For a while we were able to access the 5.25” floppies on an older PC running Windows 2000 not connected to the network. That machine was affectionately known as “Granny” due to its lack of speed and was later replaced by another machine running Windows XP. Accessing floppies was hit or miss with that operating system because XP does not support all 5.25” formats. There would be “disk not formatted” errors even though we were sure there was data on the disk.
We recently acquired some hardware and software called the FC5025 that now allows us to access most of those files in our current Windows 7 environment. Nevertheless, there are some disks that are just inaccessible and can no longer be recovered due to previous storage conditions, handling, or other issues.
In addition to being able to access these older files, we are able to do this on the secure Smithsonian network. This saves us time with our processing workflow by not having to save files to an external drive and then copying to our network server for preservation work.
The 5.25” drive with a floppy controller is attached to the PC using a USB plug. The user interface software runs to access the contents on the disk. If it is successful, there is the option to save the files directly or to create a disk image of the floppy. We have opted to do the disk image and then extract the files since this method retains the original file date. The software also indicates if it cannot recover the files.
The work does not end there though, as we need to scan for viruses and determine what the file formats are and how the files can be accessed and preserved. We have encountered WordStar and older WordPerfect files. As time allows we can revisit collections that contain 5.25” floppies that we could not access in the recent past.
The Death of the Floppy, Engines of Our Ingenuity, University of Houston
Floppy Disks are Dead, Long Live Floppy Disks, The Library of Congress
Think the Floppy Disk is Dead? Think Again!, Digital Trends
- British Library is digitizing the last surviving play script by William Shakespeare pleading for the humane treatment of refugees. [via The Guardian]
- Why Ben Franklin would hang out at libraries today. [via the Atlantic]
- Wall of Birds, a new interactive from artist Jane Kim and Cornell Lab ornithologists.
- A local wins the National Portrait Gallery's 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. [via WJLA]
- The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's Director, Kirk Johnson, explains the history of life on earth in 3 minutes. [via Big Think]
- Newly released; an environmental scan of web archiving with our own Lynda Schmitz Fuhrig and Jennifer Wright. [via Harvard]
- Archiving the sound architecture of buildings. [via Open Culture]
- 3,900 pages of artist Paul Klee's notebooks are now online. [via Open Culture]
- We knew the Library of Congress' Prints & Photographs Division had amazing collections. Check out these vintage posters you can print! [via Washingtonian]
- A new visualization from Georgia Tech and University of Georgia lets you get a snapshot of news coverage throughout the country in the 19th and early 20th century. [via Slate Vault]
- Is the political bumper sticker dying? National Museum of American History curator, Larry Bird, weighs in. [via The Atlantic]
- Envisioning the future of the research library. [via InfoDocket]
- Speaking of libraries, an impassioned essay on why libraries are our future. [via the Guardian]
- Does the idea of losing all your digital files strike terror in your heart as it does ours? Get ready for World Backup Day, March 31st.
- It happened. "President" Francis J. Underwood's portrait hangs at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery and NPG's Director, Kim Sajet, appears on an upcoming episode of House of Cards. [via Variety]
- DC Public Library's Memory Lab has your digital back and can help you digitize your 3.5" floppies and MiniDV's. [via dcist]
- Everyone's up in arms over the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new logo. What do you think? [via Wired]
- The Rosa Parks collection of 7,500 manuscripts and 2,500 photographs is digitized and now online. [via Library of Congress]
- Our neighbor has big news. President Obama announces his intent to nominate the first woman, and African American, for Librarian of Congress, Carla D. Hayden. [via the White House]
- An animation of all the original photographs of Otto Lilienthal's historic flights (between 1893 and 1896):
- Don't miss out on getting your copy of these beautiful NASA space travel posters. [via The Drive]
- GPS art by bicycle. [via bored panda]
- 448 free art books from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. [via Open Culture]
- Learn how to archive institutional email from two of our own. [via Library of Congress]
- A new 3D scan of Apollo 11 reveals astronaut graffiti depicting flight plans, a series of numbers and notations from mission control, and more. [via NPR]
- A gorgeous marriage of art and science; wallpaper based on Audubon's Birds of America. [via hyperallergic]
- The Bayeux Tapestry animated to show the 1066 Battle of Hastings. [via Open Culture]