The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Web/Tech
- 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]
- No bones about it - The new app, Skin and Bones, from the National Museum of Natural History brings collections to life. [via Smithsonian Science]
- Happy 30th Birthday to the Getty Conservation Institute! [via The Getty Iris]
- Bibliophiles rejoice - Photographer Frank Bohbot, is embarking on a project to document the great libraries of the world. [via PetaPixel]
- Now complete - the University of Georgia Libraries improves access to more than 30 hours of rare videotaped interviews with former President Richard M. Nixon using the Oral History Metadata Snychronizer. [via InfoDocket]
- A unique set of object from the National Air and Space Museum's collections - Paul E. Garber's target kites. [via AirSpace, NASM]
- This is what you want . . . 10 minutes of real time book requests from the British Library. [via InfoDocket]
- 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]
- A find for early animation - Archivists at Norway's National Library discovered a missing animation film, Empty Socks, about Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a Disney precursor to Mickey Mouse. [via The National Library of Norway]
- A fascinating look at the workshop of Kenji Yamaguchi, a National Geographic employee who builds camera contraptions for their photographers. [via Proof, National Geographic]
- See 1950s America at its best in a newly released Kodachrome home movie from the Prelinger Archives of Beany's Drive-In, Long Beach, California (c. 1952.) [via BoingBoing]
- The National Digital Stewardship Alliance residents are on the forefront of born-digital media preservation. Here's a look at the Carnegie Hall resident's efforts to understand the process of preserving live concert webcasts, educator workshops, master classes, and more. [via The Signal, Library of Congress]
- A shiny new collections search for the New York Public Library! [via NYPL on Twitter]
- Now available: "Community Approaches to Digital Stewardship," from the Library of Congress. [via Infodocket]
How we share information and spread knowledge has changed drastically from when the Smithsonian Institution unveiled its first homepage in May 1995. The official debut of "America's Treasure House for Learning" took place in House Speaker Newt Gingrich's office with Smithsonian Secretary I. Michael Heyman on Capitol Hill. The site linked to video, images, pages, maps and audio clips from across the Institution. Other Smithsonian homepages went online as well.
Secretary Heyman reported in his annual statement for 1995 that as of September 30, the site had more than 8.5 million visits. To put this in perspective, Smithsonian websites combined had more than 99 million visits in fiscal year 2014.
Prior to this the National Museum of Natural History was using Gopher technology in 1993 on the Internet. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory also launched its Telescope Data Center website in 1993, which was one of the first 250 websites on the Internet and is still active today.
While the Archives has been preserving Smithsonian websites since the late 1990s, we do not have the electronic files preserved from this first Smithsonian homepage. Multiple attempts to retrieve files off a data tape have been unsuccessful. We do have the press kit, a printout of the top part of the site, and other related files. We continue to hope someone out there might have another copy of the digital files from 1995.
The earliest captures of the homepage at the Wayback Machine from the Internet Archive only go back to 1997 and are missing some items.
Anyone who has done complex searches on the web knows they can be challenging, especially with digital information that is nearly 20 years old. Using a standard search engine does not always deliver the desired results.
This is where Memento comes in. With funding from the Library and Congress and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, it was developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Old Dominion University. Dubbed as "Time Travel for the Web," the Chrome extension works by supplying the URI (uniform resource identifier of a web resource) and selecting a date in the past that it may have been on the web. I entered www.si.edu in my browser and selected "get neared save date" of January 1, 1996, (the earliest available with the plugin) and found a web capture from the Portuguese Web Archive. This display of the homepage from October 13, 1996, has more details than what was found previously, as these results did not display from regular queries to search engines. I also recently found that Indiana University has a capture as well.
Memento uses a protocol to search archived websites from the Internet Archive, Archive-It (where you can find archived Smithsonian websites), the UK Web Archive, the Icelandic Archive, and other sites. It also works with Wikipedia, and other tools are being developed. Obviously, it only works if the website was captured in the past and available on a server.
It is rewarding to see a few more pieces come together from the early days of the web and the Smithsonian's role in it.
- Home Page of the Smithsonian's First Website, Historic Images of the Smithsonian, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Web Archiving Update, October 2014, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Smithsonian Institution websites, Archive-It