The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Hey You, Get Off Of My Cloud!
The Rolling Stones may have recorded “Hey You Get Off of My Cloud” in 1965, warning people to stay away from their heady celebrity perch, but it’s Paul McCartney, a Beatle, who made news recently for seeding a digital cloud with his own creative content. As reported by eWeek after eight months of digitizing, a lifetime’s worth of one of the world’s biggest (and richest) rock star’s music, documents, and record cover artwork, as well as thousands of hours of video tape, half a million photographs and home movies has made its way to a cloud access storage system where it will be stored in perpetuity. ("It's like walking through the Library of Congress," McCartney said of the material, "you can get lost in there.") The cloud—designed, built, and maintained by Hewlett-Packard—is private, and controlled by MPL Communications, McCartney’s publishing company. Understanding that his catalog of assets and memories, stored on old-school media and in separate warehouses, might be at risk and susceptible to physical damage, McCartney looked to new technology to solve the problem.
Many performers, artists, and writers, of course, create and maintain their own websites to inform, interface, and monetize their relationships with their fans. McCartney, a prolific musician with one of the most comprehensive music libraries of any artist, will decide which parts of his archive will be made available for free to the public and what will be licensed for commercial use in, for example, television or Web stream commercials and motion pictures. “This library,” said HP’s Scott Anderson, “will help to power his media business, making it simpler and more efficient to identify, locate, and use assets across his vast personal collection." And assuming that if, and as, that proves to be case, take note that corporations are also poised to help clients customize virtual archives and assure they’ll keep more than their heads in the clouds.