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Category: digitization

The CODATA Mission: Preserving Scientific Data for the Future

The North Jetty near the Mouth of the Columbia River 05/1973This session was part of The Memory of the World in the Digital Age: Digitization and Preservation conference and aimed to describe the initiatives of the Data at Risk Task Group (DARTG), part of the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA), a body of the International Council for Science.

The goal is to preserve scientific data that is in danger of loss because they are not in modern electronic formats, or have particularly short shelf-life. DARTG is seeking out sources of such data worldwide, knowing that many are irreplaceable for research into the long-term trends that occur in the natural world. ... 

Harnessing The Power of We: Transcription, Acquisition and Tagging

In honor of the Blog Action Day for 2012 and their theme of ‘The Power of We’, I would like to highlight a number of successful crowdsourced projects focused on transcribing, acquisition and tagging of archival materials. Nothing I can think of embodies ‘the power of we’ more clearly than the work being done by many hands from across the Internet.

Transcription

  • Old Weather Records: “Old Weather volunteers explore, mark, and transcribe historic ship’s logs from the 19th and early 20th centuries. We need your help because this task is impossible for computers, due to diverse and idiosyncratic handwriting that only human beings can read and understand effectively. By participating in Old Weather you’ll be helping advance research in multiple fields. Data about past weather and sea-ice conditions are vital for climate scientists, while historians value knowing about the course of a voyage and the events that transpired. Since many of these logs haven’t been examined since they were originally filled in by a mariner long ago you might even discover something surprising.”
  • From The Page: “FromThePage is free software that allows volunteers to transcribe handwritten documents on-line.” A number of different projects are using this software including: The San Diego Museum of Natural History’s project to transcribe the field notes of herpetologist Laurence M. Klaube and Southwestern University’s project to transcribe the Mexican War Diary of Zenas Matthews.
  • National Archives Transcription: as part of the National Archives Citizen Archivist program, individuals have the opportunity to transcribe a variety of records. As described on the transcription home page: “letters to a civil war spy, presidential records, suffrage petitions, and fugitive slave case files”.

Acquisition:

Archive Team: The ArchiveTeam describes itself as “a rogue archivist collective dedicated to saving copies of rapidly dying or deleted websites for the sake of history and digital heritage.” Here is an example of the information gathered, shared and collaborated on by the ArchiveTeam focused on saving content from Friendster. The rescued data is (whenever possible) uploaded in the Internet Archive and can be found here:

Springing into action, Archive Team began mirroring Friendster accounts, downloading all relevant data and archiving it, focusing on the first 2-3 years of Friendster’s existence (for historical purposes and study) as well as samples scattered throughout the site’s history – in all, roughly 20 million of the 112 million accounts of Friendster were mirrored before the site rebooted. ... 

Digitization Quality vs Quantity: An Exercise in Fortune Telling

The quality vs quantity dilemma is high in the minds of those planning major digitization projects. Do you spend your time and energy creating the highest quality images of your archival records? Or do you focus on digitizing the largest quantity you can manage? Choosing one over the other has felt a bit like an exercise in fortune telling to me over the past few months, so I thought I would work through at least a few of the moving parts of this issue here. ... 

Digitization Program Site Visit: Archives of American Art

The image of Alexander Calder above shows him in his studio, circa 1950. It is from a folder titled Photographs: Calder at Work, 1927-1956, undated, part of Alexander Calder’s Papers held by the Smithsonian Archives of American Art and available online through the efforts of their digitization project. I love that this image capture him in his creative space – you get to see the happy chaos from which Calder drew his often sleek and sparse sculptures. ... 

Digitization Program Site Visit: University of Maryland

I recently had the opportunity to visit with staff of the University of Maryland, College Park’s Digital Collections digitization program along with a group of my colleagues from the World Bank. This is a report on that site visit. It is my hope that these details can help others planning digitization projects – much as it is informing our own internal planning.

Date of Visit: October 13, 2011 ... 

Day of Digital Archives

To be honest, today was a half day of digital archives, due to personal plans taking me away from computers this afternoon. In light of that, my post is more accurately my ‘week of digital archives’.

The highlight of my digital archives week was the discovery of the Digital Curation Exchange. I promptly joined and began to explore their ‘space for all things ‘digital curation’ ‘. This led me to a fabulous list of resources, including a set of syllabi for courses related to digital curation. Each link brought me to an extensive reading list, some with full slide decks related to weekly in classroom presentations. My ‘to read’ list has gotten much longer – but in a good way! ... 

Concertina History Online Features Virtual Collaboration and Digitization

In the early 1960s, my father bought a Wheatstone concertina in London. He tells how he visited the factory where it was made to pick one out and recalls the ledger book in which details about the concertinas were recorded. After a recent retelling of this family classic, I was inspired to see what might be online related to concertinas. I was amazed!

First I found the Concertina Library which presents itself as a ‘Digital Reference Collection for Concertinas’. With fourteen contributing authors, the site includes in depth articles on concertina history, technology, music, research and a wide range of concertina systems... 

Blog Action Day 2009: IEDRO and Climate Change

IEDRO LogoIn honor of Blog Action Day 2009‘s theme of Climate Change, I am revisiting the subject of a post I wrote back in the summer of 2007: International Environmental Data Rescue Organization (IEDRO). This non-profit’s goal is to rescue and digitize at risk weather and climate data from around the world. In the past two years, IEDRO has been hard at work. Their website has gotten a great face-lift, but even more exciting is to see is how much progress they have made! ...