Category Archives: Cool items

Lost Landscapes SF6: huge success– Next Lost Landscapes of Detroit February 22

Standing room only for Rick Prelinger’s Lost Landscape of San Francisco 6 at the Internet Archive last night.   New films including “process plates” from studios brought a new sharpness to many of the films presented.   Suggested donations was 5 bucks or 5 books, and people brought lots of great books for the Archive.

Next is Lost Landscapes of Detroit on February 22, 2012– this is Detroit without the narratives being imposed on it.   Doors open at 6:30, show at 7:30.

Thank you all!

Hard Drive Archaeology – And Hackerspaces

Two different, but somewhat related additions to the archive you might want to check out.

First, I was contacted earlier this week about a project to recover information off of an old Cray-1 supercomputer hard drive. Unlike, say, trying to get your old floppies to read or pulling an old mix tape off of a cassette, with something as old as a Cray-1 (a computer once called the “World’s Most Expensive Love Seat“), you don’t even have a place to really plug it in: functioning Cray-1 machines are rare as you can get, and even if you were to get the hard drives spinning up and read off of – where would you get the data off the Cray?

Researcher Chris Fenton has a thing about Cray supercomputers – he built a tiny homebrew version of one that used emulation to allow you to experience some aspect of Crays, from his desktop. So when he found himself with a 80 Megabyte CDC 9877 disk pack, which was quite a lot for the early 1970s, it wasn’t just a matter of hooking it up to USB. (Actually, we have a brochure for the behemoth you would put this disk pack into to read it.)  Here’s what a nearly-the-same CDC 9987 looks like:

Ultimately, Fenton got the information off of the disk pack using a whole variety of techniques and experiments, as part of a research project this summer. He wrote a paper about the process, entitled Digital Archeology with Drive-Independent Data Recovery: Now, With More Drive Dependence!” and it’s now mirrored here at the archive. If nothing else, be sure to browse through the paper just to see the customized stepper motor and reader he build to pull the magnetic data off the platters. And I was kind of understating things… ultimately he did hook it up to USB.

From this careful, forensic-quality magnetic scan of the drive, Fenton has produced a large image of the disk, one far larger than the data on it but allowing further experimentation and reading from the image without having to build a robot in your basement. And now, we’re offering this image on the archive. Remember, you won’t be able to pull this data down and go back to the 1970s, instantly – you should be reading up documentation of disk formats, learn about how pull information off of magnetic flux recording, and a whole other host of material and knowledge…. but hey, weekends are for having fun, right?

Even ten years ago, the idea of offering several gigabytes of something (that expands out to about 20 gigabytes of something) online was beyond crazy – that we’ve come so far in offering this much to so many people speaks how much the world has changed since the era of this disk pack.

Fenton is associated with the NYC-based hackerspace, NYC Resistor and it was their mailing list that got in contact with me to get this disk image up to the archive.

Coincidentally, this was also the week that two NYC Resistor members released a book, for free, which you might really enjoy. Bre Pettis and Astera Schneeweisz hatched a plan to make a book on hackerspaces at the end of 2008. They wanted to put it together in less than two weeks, and as people submitted photos, essays and other material, the project increased in size, more folks were brought in, and this month the end result was released for free.

Entitled “Hackerspaces: The Beginning”, this photo-filled book is available at the archive to read online or download. A worldwide view of hackerspaces throughout the world as of 2008, it also includes memories of spaces past and dreams of spaces future. It’s an excellent snapshot of a beautiful, technological world well worth browsing this weekend (and weekends to come).

So if you’re in the mood for advanced research or just to check out some great photos, the archive’s got something for you!

Why Publishers Support E-book Lending with OpenLibrary.org: A Q&A with Smashwords Mark Coker

Photo of Mark Coker

Mark Coker Founder, CEO Smashwords

This Q&A kicks off a series of conversations with visionary publishers who support e-book digital library lending with OpenLibrary.org.

Mark Coker, Founder, CEO and Chief Author Advocate, founded Smashwords  to change the way books are published, marketed and sold.  In just three years it has become the leading ebook publishing and distribution platform for independent authors and small publishers.  The Wall Street Journal named Mark Coker one of the “Eight Stars of Self-Publishing” in 2010. He is a contributing columnist for the Huffington Post, where he writes about ebooks and the future of publishing. For Smashwords updates, follow Mark on Twitter at @markcoker.

Q. What is the relationship between publishers and Open Library?

A: “There is an intersection of common interest with publishers and Open Library – the passionate desire to get books to readers. The innovators at Open Library understand that the way people access books is an ongoing evolution and they are at the forefront of finding solutions to support all the key stakeholders – publishers and distributors, authors and most of all, readers.

Q: How do Libraries help to support book distribution?

old man reading computer

“Its simple – the more readers have a chance to engage with a book, the more likely they are to recommend it, or purchase it.”


A: Open Library purchases your books and shares them with readers by creating a web page for each book, with a cover photo and descriptive information. There are prompts to read, borrow and buy. Open Library has more than 4,600,000 unique visitors a month.

Q: What makes Smashwords different from other publishing organizations?

A: Smashwords represents 19,000 indie authors and small presses who handle the writing, editing and pricing of their books. We distribute these titles to major retailers such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Diesel. We believe that authors should maintain the creative and financial control of their work and receive the lion share of income. Our authors keep upwards of 85% of the profits on the books we distribute.

Q. Why are some publishers and authors excited about e-books accessed via public libraries?

“If you build it, they will come.”

A: Our authors and publishers rely on Smashwords to open up new opportunities to reach readers. We’re working with most of the biggest indie authors, and many of them are excited about libraries. Open Library and its partners believe, “if you build it, they will come and I agree.  As demand for ebooks through a digital public library systems increase, publishers will better understand the value of partnering with Open Library. We hope they utilize Smashwords to reach these new distribution venues.

Buying E-Books from Smashwords

Young Adult e-Books by Amanda Hocking available on OpenLibrary.org

Smashwords’ best-selling authors contribute to OpenLibrary.org

Smashwords, the largest distributor of independently published literature, recently provided the Internet Archive and OpenLibrary.org with its first installment of e-Books from best known, best-selling e-Book authors including: Young Adult sensation Amanda Hocking; Fantasy author, Brian Pratt; Romance novelist Ruth Ann Nordin; and Business Expert, Gerald Weinberg.

Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords believes that libraries are crucial to every publisher’s survival because they provide the face to face connection between readers, authors and books.

“We see tremendous value in partnering with the Internet Archive. Their visionary leadership is helping to create a worldwide digital public library.”
Mark Coker, CEO, Smashwords

The deposit by Smashwords was a first attempt at demonstrating the feasibility of making modern books more globally accessible through OpenLibrary.org. Next up – the creation of a new model that supports the on-going purchase of e-Books by participating libraries.

“The publishing world is rapidly changing,” asserts Coker, “There’s plenty of room for numerous distribution models and in my opinion, publishers should be bending over backwards to support these initiatives.”

Open Library Buying e-Books from Publishers

The Internet Archive is on campaign to buy e-Books from publishers and authors; making more digital books available to readers who prefer using laptops, reading devices or library computers.  Publishers such as Smashwords, Cursor and A Book Apart have already contributed e-Books to OpenLibrary.org – offering niche titles and the works of best-selling “indy” authors including Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath.

“Libraries are our allies in creating the best range of discovery mechanisms for writers and readers—enabling open and browser-based lending through the OpenLibrary.org means more books for more readers, and we’re thrilled to do our part in achieving that.” – Richard Nash, founder of Cursor.

American libraries spend $3-4 billion a year on publisher’s materials.  OpenLibrary.org and its more than 150 partnering libraries around the US and the world are  leading the charge to increase their combined digital book catalog of 80,000+ (mostly 20th century) and 2 million+ older titles.

“As demand for e-Books increases, libraries are looking to purchase more titles to provide better access for their readers.” – Digital Librarian Brewster Kahle, Founder of the Internet Archive.

This new twist on the traditional lending model promises to increase e-book use and revenue for publishers. OpenLibrary.org offers an e-Book lending library and digitized copies of classics and older books as well as books in audio and DAISY formats for those qualified readers.

1790-1930 U.S. Census Records Available Free

With the U.S. Census Bureau beginning to release statistics from the 2010 census. It seems a good time to mention that Internet Archive has a complete set of the available U.S. Census back to the first one in 1790:

From the press release of the completion of the most recent census:
_________________________________________________

San Francisco, CA –Internet Archive has announced that a publicly accessible digital copy  of the complete 1930 United States Census – the largest, most detailed census released to date – is available free of charge at www.archive.org/details/1930_census. Previously, 1930 Census records were accessible only through microfilm, or subscription services in which select portions of data are provided for a fee.

The 1930 Census records are being made available online through a collaboration with the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the coming months, complete census records from 1790 through 1920 will be made available as part of Internet Archive’s growing Genealogy Collection.

“Internet Archive is pleased to be working on this important collection with the renowned Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library,” said Robert Miller, Internet Archive’s Director of Books. “There is tremendous value in seeing the original census source documents without filtering and third-party interpretation of the information. For historical researchers as well as those individuals who are simply passionate about history and genealogy, access to these materials is critical to understanding the past and assessing how the past impacts the present, and how it can shape our future.”

Taken just five months after the Wall Street crash of October 29, 1929, the 1930 Census was the fifteenth census of the United States and includes 2,667 microfilmed rolls of population schedules with names and statistics of more than 137 million individuals. The 1930 Census became available to the public on April 1, 2001. By law, census records are restricted for 72 years.

Information contained about individuals in the 1930 Census includes:

•    Address of home
•    Date and location of birth
•    Occupation
•    Marital status
•    Year of immigration
•    Ability to speak English
•    Ability to read and write
•    Property ownership
•    Military participation

“The 1930 Census represents the zenith of data collected by federal enumerators,” said Curt B. Witcher, Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center Manager. “Having it online for free will allow access for anyone at any time – the classroom teacher who wants to show interested students what an older census looks like, the local historian wanting to study everyone who lives in a particular township or village, the genealogist wanting to search for families missed by indexers. Millions of individuals will benefit from this resource. What a fortunate circumstance to have this historic census widely available in this census year of 2010.”
_______________________________________________________

Note: There is an interesting backstory to the missing 1890 census:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1890_U.S._Census
“The Eleventh United States Census was taken June 2, 1890. Most of the 1890 census was destroyed in 1921 during a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C. In December 1932, according to standard Federal record keeping procedure at the time, the Chief Clerk of the Bureau of the Census sent the Librarian of Congress a list of papers to be destroyed, including the original 1890 census schedules. The Librarian was asked by the Bureau to identify any records which should be retained for historical purposes but the Librarian did not accept the census records. Congress authorized destruction of that list of records on February 21, 1933 and thus the 1890 census remains were destroyed by government order by 1934 or 1935.”

-Jeff Kaplan and Kathy Dalle-Molle

Ted Nelson and Zigzag

One of the great things about the Internet Archive is the sense of adventure. There are always creative ideas bouncing around. Many of them come to fruition and occasionally some fail. In the spirit of innovation the inimitable Ted Nelson just finished up a month long code sprint with some guest programmers to bring to life one of his visionary concepts, Zigzag.

About Zigzag (from Mr. Nelson’s Xanadu website):

“We believe the computer world can be simplified and unified. Today, ordinary people must deal with an appalling variety of programs and mechanisms to maintain their information. We have discovered a new simplification based on one simple concept: a new, liberated form of data that shows itself in wild new ways.

Conventional data structures– especially tables and arrays– are confined structures created from a rigid top-down specification that enforces regularity and rectangularity. But this structure (our trademark is ZigZag®) is created from individual relations, bottom-up; it can be irregular and unlimited. Its uses range from database and spreadsheet to unifying the internals of large-scale software.”

Click image to see the Zigzag presentation

At the end of the month, on November 24, Ted Nelson and Team Zigzag (Edward Betts, Ted Nelson, Marlene Mallicoat, Art Medlar, Andrew Pam, Jeffrey Ventrella) presented a working prototype of Zigzag. You can see the presentation at http://www.archive.org/details/zigzagpresentation (a hi-res version can be seen at here.)

Team Zigzag: Ted Nelson, Art Medlar, Jeffrey Ventrella, Edward Betts. (Marlene Mallicoat and Andrew Pam)

-Jeff Kaplan

Ted Nelson Launches His Autobiography at Internet Archive

 

Ted Nelson discusses Xanadu

 

On October 8, 2010, Brewster Kahle and Internet Archive hosted Ted Nelson’s book launch for his autobiography “Possiplex.” It was a special evening. There was a wide array of guests, including some of Ted’s closest collaborators.

Ted Nelson spent over two hours reading from his book “Possiplex” and answering questions from the audience. He discussed his many projects and gave a demonstration of Xanadu. He also thrilled us with a screening of his movie that he wrote, directed and filmed in the 1950’s. I found it hilarious. He was both gracious and opinionated, which made for a rousing event.

Visit the Possiplex collection page to see photos and video from the event:
Photos from the event,
Video of Ted Nelson’s talk
Doug Englebart interview

Roger Gregory interview
Paul Saffo interview

Ted Nelson has been a computer and information visionary for 50 years. He coined the concept and term hypertext. There are many quotes about Ted and his book on the collection page at http://www.archive.org/details/possiplex. Here are a few:

“Tesla:Electricity = Nelson:Digital. … All of the web is in essence a pale shadow of just one of Ted Nelson’s dreams. Now do I have your attention?…” — Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus

“Ted Nelson is the Thomas Paine of the Information Revolution.” – Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog

“A truly first-class mind … one of the dozen or so most brilliant people I’ve met in a lifetime of hanging out with geniuses and the highly gifted”– Eric Raymond, Open Software Initiative

Thanks to the folks who organized the event: June Goldsmith, Laura Milvy, Jeff Ubois, and of course Brewster Kahle and Ted Nelson.

-Jeff Kaplan

Little Known Classics You NEED To Watch!

The classic, the rare, the obscure…you movie junkies love this stuff. It’s always cool to discover the weird films made by familiar faces. Kudos Matt Holmes and Peter Willis of Obssessed With Film for assembling a Top 10 of little known classics.

You can watch 5 of them right now at Internet Archive. Whoa, is that Telly Savalas!? I’m going to watch Quicksand! now…it has Peter Lorre and Mickey Rooney together.

Check them out:

Horror Express http://www.archive.org/details/horror_express_ipod
Suddenly http://www.archive.org/details/suddenly_avi
Impact http://www.archive.org/details/impact
Too Late For Tears http://www.archive.org/details/TooLateForTears
Quicksand! http://www.archive.org/details/Quicksand_clear

-Jeff Kaplan

Top 40 best free legal movies you can download right now

Sean P. Aune at tech.blorge has put together a great list of movies on archive.org.  From his blog:

The Internet Archive works to bring together anything and everything that resides in the public domain, and that includes movies.  We’ve gathered together 40 of the best ones that will keep you entertained for hours on end, all without costing you a dime outside of using some of your bandwidth.  Enjoy!

I haven’t seen a lot of these and didn’t even know we had some of them. This is a great list. Gotta watch one of the Hitchcock movies right now.

Sean, thanks for doing the heavy lifting!

-Jeff Kaplan