The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Web/Tech
- Google doubles its online database of street art with 5000 new pieces. [via The Verge]
- A rare peak look at the archives and artifacts held at the NBCUniversal Archives & Collections. [via LAWeekly]
- Workflows and born-digital collections involve continually evolving processes that need to be revised and reworked as software formats are discovered or file sizes increase. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- You probably noticed it, but this past week Google recognized Anna Atkins, regarded as the world's first woman photographic artist, with a Google Doodle. [via Washington Post]
- The ease with which to create, store, and destroy digital information in the form of email, documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, etc. leaves the historical record for the future at risk of loss. [via The New York Times]
- Help a brother out . . . by voting for your favorite name for the National Zoo's newly born Andean bear brother cubs. [via NZP]
- It's in your hands - You tell your story with StoryCorp's new app that allows you and your smartphone to fully facilitate the interview experience with easy-to-use tools, the ability to record high-quality audio from your device, and upload your conversation to an archive at the Library of Congress where they can be listened to by other app users. [via Cool Hunting]
- Perfect for Women's History Month - An app that that makes you phone buzz when you get near a place where women made history. [via Good Magazine]
- Graduate conservation students in University of Delaware's art conservation program help restore family photographs after a horrible tragedy. [via PetaPixel]
- Bring books to the people - A 1979 Ford Falcon is transformed into a weapon of mass instruction. [via Open Culture]
- A different kinds of library - A Materials Library at the University College London holds a collection of almost 3000 items from baby teeth to aerogel. [via Motherboard]
- The British Library has created some videos to help being attention to online privacy. [via InfoDocket]
- On exhibit at The Prado Museum is the first art exhibition created for the visually impaired using 3D printing. [via Open Culture]
- Catalog cards are turned into art by painter Vicki Moore. [via Minnesota Public Radio News]
- Amazing facts about about amazing women science pioneers and the books you can read about them from the New York Public Library. [via NYPL blog]
- Here's a look at how colorizer Dana Keller brings historical photos to life with colorization. [via PetaPixel]
- The sounds of a typewriter are all but fading from peoples memories, here's a look at one of the few remaining typewriter repairmen. [via Medium]
- 30 hours at The Getty = 12 new museum games. [via The Getty Iris]
- Email and its preservation are in the news again, this time dealing with Hilary Clinton and her time as Secretary of State. [via The New York Times]
- This weekend there will be a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon focused on subjects related to contemporary art and feminism at 30 plus sites both in the United States and internationally. [via Eyebeam]
- From the MIT Libraries comes the mobile version of its Fair Use quiz to help students better understand the core concepts of copyright law’s "fair use" provision. [via InfoDocket]
- With the passing of actor Leonard Nimoy last week, there were a number of remembrances about him and his role as Mr. Spock on "Star Trek" at the Smithsonian Magazine, the National Air and Space Museum, and at NASA. [via Smithsonian Magazine; AirSpace blog, NASM; NASA]
- 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