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Spring 2007:Access and Information Visualization

I don’t often post explicitly about my experiences as a graduate student – but I want to let everyone know about the focus of my studies for the next four months. I am taking two courses that I hope will complement one another. One course is on Archival Access (description, MARC, DACS, EAD and theory). The other is on Information Visualization over in the Computer Science department.

My original hope was that in my big Information Visualization final project I might get the opportunity to work with some aspect of archives and/or digital records. I want to understand how to improve access and understanding of the rich resources in the structured digital records repositories in archives around the world. What has already happened just one week into the term is that I find myself cycling through multiple points of view as I do my readings. ... 

Book Review: Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History

Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History consists mainly of 11 case studies of geographic information systems being applied to the study of history. It includes a nice sprinkling of full color maps and images and a 20 page glossary of GIS terms. Each case study includes a list of articles and other resources for further reading.

The book begins with an introduction by the editor, Anne Kelly Knowles. This chapter explains the basics of using GIS to study history, as well as giving an overview of how the book is organized. ... 

Footnote.com and US National Archives records

Thanks to Digitization 101‘s recent post “Footnote launches and announces partnership with National Archives” I was made aware of the big news about the digitization of the US National Archives’ records. Footnote.com has gone live with the first of apparently many planned installments of digitized NARA records. My first instinct was one of suspicion. In the shadow of recent historian alarm about the Smithsonian/Showtime deal, I think its valid to be concerned about new agreements between government agencies and private companies. ... 

OBR: Optical Braille Recognition

In the interest of talking about new topics – I opened my little moleskine notebook and found a note to myself wondering if it is possible to scan Braille with the equivalent of OCR.

Enter Optical Braille Recognition or OBR. Created by a company called Neovision, this software will permit anyone with a scanner and a Windows platform computer to ‘read’ Braille documents.

Why was this in my notebook? I was thinking about unusual records that must be out in the world and wondering about how to improve access to the information within them. So if there are Braille records out there – how does the sighted person who can’t read Braille get at that information? Here is an answer. Not only does the OBR permit reading of Braille documents – but it would permit recreation of these same documents in Braille from any computer that has the right technology. ... 

GIS and Geospatial Data Preservation: Research Resources

I found these websites while doing research for a paper on the selection and appraisal of geospatial data and geographic information systems (GIS). I hope these links might be useful for others doing similar research.

CIESIN – Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University, especially Guide to Managing Geospatial Electronic Records (USA)

CUGIR – Cornell University Geospatial Information Repository, especially Collection Development Policy (USA) ... 

The Edges of the GIS Electronic Record

I spent a good chunk of the end of my fall semester writing a paper ultimately titled “Digital Geospatial Records: Challenges of Selection and Appraisal”. I learned a lot – especially with the help of archivists out there on the cutting edge who are trying to find answers to these problems. I plan on a number of posts with various ideas from my paper.

To start off, I want to consider the topic of defining the electronic record in the context of GIS. One of the things I found most interesting in my research was the fact that defining exactly what a single electronic record consists of is perhaps one of the most challenging steps. ... 

DMCA Exemption Added That Supports Archivists

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, aka DMCA (which made it illegal to create or distribute technology which can get around copyright protection technology) has six new classes of exemptions added today.

From the very long named Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works out of the U.S. Copyright Office (part of the Library of Congress) comes the addition of the following class of work that will not be “subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls”: ... 

129th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s Invention of the Phonograph

Phonograph Patent Drawing
Phonograph Patent Drawing by T.A. Edison. May 18, 1880. RG 241.Patent #227,679

In honor of today’s 129th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s announcement of his invention of the phonograph, I thought I would share an idea that came to me this past summer. I had the pleasure of taking a course on Visual and Sound Materials taught by Tom Connors, the curator of the National Public Broadcasting Archives. This course explored the history of audio recording, photography, film and broadcasting technology. ...