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Controversial Photos, Archvists’ Choices and Journalism

New York Times Magazine Cover: January 1995The New York Times Magazine published The Great Ivy League Nude Posture Photo Scandal in January of 1995. Still available online, it is a fascinating tale that took reporter Ron Rosenbaum on a wild hunt through multiple archives in a quest for long lost photographs. I spotted a link to the article in a post on Boing Boing – and once I started reading it I couldn’t stop.

The story includes thorough coverage of the research (and the footwork and the paperwork) it took to find the final resting place of some very controversial photographs. Taken as part of the orientation process of new students at Ivy League and Seven Sisters school campuses predominately during the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, these photos were theoretically taken to screen for students who needed remedial posture classes. William Herbert Sheldon was a driving force behind many of the photos. Best known for assigning people into three categories of body types in the 1940s, Sheldon based his categories of endomorphic, mesomorphic, and ectomorphic on measurements done using the student photographs. Rosenbaum’s quest was to find the real story behind the photos and to discover if any of the photos survived the purging fires at that occurred at many of the schools involved. ... 

Phoenix DVD destined for Mars

Hubble's Sharpest View Of Mars

When the Phoenix Mars Mission launches (possible as early as this Friday August 3rd, 2007), it will have something unusual on board. The Planetary Society has created what they call the Phoenix DVD.

In late May of 2007 they proudly announced that their special DVD was ready for launch:

… the silica glass mini-DVD with a quarter million names on it (including all Planetary Society members) has been installed on the Phoenix spacecraft and is ready to go to Mars! ... 

Public.Resource.Org: Creative Financing and Public Domain Content

Sunrise on Malibu Lake by Charles O'Rear (National Archives photo no. NWDNS-412-DA-15109) Public.resource.org is dedicated to using funds contributed by individuals to buy public domain content. This content is then released online in multiple locations such as the Internet Archive and Google Video for use by anyone. I love their tag line: Underwritten By The Feds! Overwritten By You!

I spotted this in boingboing’s post Liberated public domain government docs surfacing online and I was immediately intrigued. This isn’t really an archiving issue exactly – though you could decide that it takes more of a LOCKSS approach to preservation. I also wonder how this approach could be used to finance the digitization of other public domain materials. ... 

Happy Birthday Spellbound Blog

One year ago, when I posted my Introduction post on July 19th of 2006, I had taken only 3 courses towards my MLS degree. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write about.. or how often. I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested in my posts. I was about a month away from standing in front of my poster at SAA passing out home-made cards with the name of this blog on them (and my blog URL scribbled on scraps of paper when I ran out of the cards). I posted summaries of many of the sessions I attended, but we never really reached critical mass with bloggers at the SAA 2006 conference in DC. ... 

Thoughts on Digital Preservation, Validation and Community

The preservation of digital records is on the mind of the average person more with each passing day. Consider the video below from the recent BBC article Warning of data ticking time bomb.


Microsoft UK Managing Director Gordon Frazer running Windows 3.1 on a Vista PC
(Watch video in the BBC News Player)

The video discusses Microsoft’s Virtual PC program that permits you to run multiple operating systems via a Virtual Console. This is an example of the emulation approach to ensuring access to old digital objects – and it seems to be done in a way that the average user can get their head around. Since a big part of digital preservation is ensuring you can do something beyond reading the 1s and 0s – it is promising step. It also pleased me that they specifically mention the UK National Archives and how important it is to them that they can view documents as they originally appeared – not ‘converted’ in any way. ... 

Unofficial SAA2007 Chicago Conference Wiki Now Online

wiki_green2_logo.gifIt is alive! Take a look at the fabulous new SAA2007 Unofficial Conference Wiki. The wiki exists due to the vision and dedicated effort of Cal Lee, Lori Eakin, Kate Theimer and others. You can read more about who contributed energy and resources to bring the wiki to life on the Acknowledgments page.

Are you willing to write about presentations? Direct your attention please to the Session Coverage page. As you plan your schedule for the conference, consider letting others know which panels and round tables you plan to cover. The ultimate goal would be to make sure that at least person has committed to coverage of every session. You don’t need to have a blog to cover a session – you can add your session recap as a page in the wiki. We will make sure it is easy to do when we get that far. ... 

International Environmental Data Rescue Organization: Rescuing At Risk Weather Records Around the World

iedro.jpgIn the middle of my crazy spring semester a few months back, I got a message about volunteer opportunities at the International Environmental Data Rescue Organization (IEDRO). I get emails from from VolunteerMatch.org every so often because I am always curious about virtual volunteer projects (ie, ways you can volunteer via your computer while in your pajamas). I filed the message away for when I actually had more time to take a closer look and it has finally made it to the top of my list. ... 

reCAPTCHA: crowdsourcing transcription comes to life

With a tag-line like ‘Stop Spam, Read Books’ – how can you not love reCAPTCHA? You might have already read about it on Boing Boing , NetworkWorld.com or digitizationblog – but I just couldn’t let it go by without talking about it.

Haven’t heard about reCAPTCHA yet? Ok.. have you ever filled out an online form that made you look at an image and type the letters or numbers that you see? These ‘verify you are a human’ sorts of challenges are used everywhere from on-line concert ticket purchase sites who don’t want scalpers to get too many of the tickets to blogs that are trying to prevent spam. What reCAPTCHA has done is harness this user effort to assist in the transcription of hard to OCR text from digitized books in the Internet Archive. Their website has a great explanation about what they are doing – and they include this great graphic below to show why human intervention is needed. ...