Guess what we find in books? A look Inside our Midwest Regional Digitization Center– by Jeff Sharpe

The history of a book isn’t captured merely by the background of the author or its publishing date or its written content. Most books were purchased and read by someone; they are from a specific time and place. That too is part of each book’s history. Sometimes in digitizing books we find pressed flowers or a single leaf or pieces of paper that were used as bookmarks then forgotten. We even found a desiccated chameleon in one book  When we find something like that at the Internet Archive’s Digitization Centers, we digitize the object because it is part of the history of that book. We see our mission to be archiving each book exactly as it was found, so that when you flip through a book, you are seeing it as if you had the physical copy in your hands, not just black text on a white page.

Take for example this book from the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection:  The Life and Speeches of Henry Clay. In the chapter on Clay’s speeches, you can see what Abraham Lincoln highlighted, points he thought worthy of noting.

Blog Lincoln notations in book

In fact, by seeing what Lincoln underscored as he read this book and by reading his notes, you get a glimpse into what may have shaped his ideas; how he might have then used certain concepts to express his thoughts and policies about slavery and its abolition. The history of this book, which was held and read and annotated by Abraham Lincoln, had a direct effect on the history of this nation. A historic book that also has a history of it’s own.

We’ve digitized over 125,000 items here at the Midwest Regional Digitization Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In several books we digitized for the University of Pittsburgh’s Darlington Collection, we found some treasures. In one, we found a note by William Henry Harrison , then governor of the Indian Territory in 1803. (Scroll down the pages to see the letters in situ.)

In another we found a promissory note by Aaron Burr from 1796 for a large sum of money. Burr was a controversial person to say the least. He was not only a Revolutionary War hero, Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President and a presidential candidate himself, but also the man who shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

Once someone at the University of Pittsburgh contacted me regarding an item a digital reader had made them aware of:  a previously unknown, original survey report written by none other than Daniel Boone!  He asked me if  I knew anything about it. I verified that we had found and digitized it–along with the note by Aaron Burr  and the letter by William Henry Harrison. I got a shocked reply, “Where??”  Apparently digitizing not only opened up access to these books, it also rediscovered long-lost manuscripts stuck between the pages, penned by important figures in American history. Blog Boone letter (1)

The history of these books turned out to contain the history of this country, highlighted in a very personal way. Whether it is someone pressing a violet between the pages, Abe Lincoln researching abolition, or a forgotten survey report by Daniel Boone, sometimes the material we digitize can bring our past alive.  What will you discover lodged between the pages in our three million digital books?

Take a tour of the Midwest Regional Digitization with Jeff Sharpe in this recent video.


jeffsharpeJeff Sharpe is Senior Digitization Manager for the Midwest Region.

Jeff’s work experience in administration and research led him to the Internet Archive’s digitization center in the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne Indiana. He’s proud of his role in helping to bring well over a hundred thousand books online for universal access, including more than fifteen thousand items digitized by volunteers at the Midwest Center. Jeff is a voracious reader and loves books. He has a passion for history and archaeology– particularly from the Mayan civilization which has led him to  travel extensively to Mayan ruins. He enjoys among other things bicycle riding, gardening, and hanging out with his wife, two kids, and their two dogs.

Posted in Announcements, News | 11 Comments

CASH BOX Music Magazine to Come Online

The Swem Library at the College of William & Mary in Virginia has received a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to digitize its entire run of Cash Box, a music trade magazine published from 1942 to 1996.  Swem Library is partnering with the Internet Archive, to scan all 190,000 pages of the 163-volume collection and create an online portal for reading and downloading the digital images.

“We are overjoyed to be able to unleash decades of music industry information to the public,” said Dean of University Libraries Carrie Cooper. “Swem Library has been gearing up for a greater emphasis on the digitization of unique and rare collections that are of interest to the public and scholars. We are grateful to have partners like CLIR to support our efforts to expose the hidden treasures of our library.”

The grant is part of CLIR’s Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program, a national competition that funds the digitization of rare and unique content held by libraries and institutions that would otherwise be unavailable to the public. The program is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

An alternative to Billboard Magazine, Cash Box included regional chart data; hit songs by city, radio station, and record sales; popularity by jukebox; and charts by genre including country and R&B. It also featured stories on artists, news of tours, insider gossip, album summaries and photographs found nowhere else. Later issues included sections relating to the music industry in Canada, Europe, Japan and Mexico.

“We are very excited to make this important and internationally significant resource for the study of music history and popular culture more widely accessible,” said Jay Gaidmore, director of the library’s Special Collections Research Center. “Since acquiring these issues in 2010, we have received more requests for copies and information from Cash Box than from any other individual collection held in Special Collections.”

Filling requests for copies of Cash Box materials has been difficult, Gaidmore said, due to the library’s lack of resources. Researchers who need immediate access to the collection typically must travel to Williamsburg. Making the collection available online will put this resource into the hands of researchers across the globe.

Philip Gentry, assistant professor of music history at the University of Delaware, is one of those researchers. As a scholar and teacher of American music in the post-war era, Gentry believes Cash Box provides a crucial alternative to Billboard, which primarily focused on mainstream music.

“[Cash Box’s] formula relied more heavily upon jukebox ‘plays,’ and thus are often a much more reliable window into trends of more subcultural markets such as African American-dominated rhythm and blues or white working-class country,” he said.

Gentry is currently working on a project documenting anti-communist blacklisting in popular music during the McCarthy era. He has found very little discussion on the topic in Billboard, but has seen hints that it was more openly discussed in Cash Box.

Not only is Gentry excited to see Cash Box digitized for his own scholarship, he sees impact on his teaching as well.

“Digitization makes possible a whole world of classroom assignments,” he said. “Unlike with older primary sources, very few institutions have undertaken the commitment to properly archive and make accessible collections of the recent past. And yet, teaching research skills and the tools of critical reading is no less important for students engaging with popular culture of the American twentieth century.”

The project will begin in February and is expected to be completed by December 2016. The collection will be made freely and publicly available through the Swem Library website and here at the Internet Archive.

This article was republished by permission of our partners at the Swem Library.  It first appeared in January 2016.  

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Saving 500 Apple II Programs from Oblivion

Among the tens of thousands of computer programs now emulated in the browser at the Internet Archive, a long-growing special collection has hit a milestone: the 4am Collection is now past 500 available Apple II programs preserved for the first time.

playable_screenshot

To understand this achievement, it’s best to explain what 4am (an anonymous person or persons) has described as their motivations: to track down Apple II programs, especially ones that have never been duplicated or widely distributed, and remove the copy protection that prevents them from being digitized. After this, the now playable floppy disk is uploaded to the Internet Archive along with extensive documentation about what was done to the original program to make it bootable. Finally, the Internet Archive’s play-in-a-browser emulator, called JSMESS (a Javascript port of the MAME/MESS emulator) allows users to click on the screenshot and begin experiencing the Apple II programs immediately, without requiring installation of emulators or the original software.

In fact, all the screenshots in this entry link to playable programs!

playable_screenshot (1)

If you’re not familiar with the Apple II software library that has existed over the past few decades, a very common situation of the most groundbreaking and famous programs produced by this early home computer is that only the “cracked” versions persist. Off the shelf, the programs would include copy protection routines that went so far as to modify the performance of the floppy drive, or force the Apple II’s operating system to rewrite itself to behave in strange ways.

Because hackers (in the “hyper-talented computer programmers” sense) would take the time to walk through the acquired floppy disks and remove copy protection, those programs are still available to use and transfer, play and learn from.

One side effect, however, was that these hackers, young or proud of the work they’d done, would modify the graphics of the programs to announce the effort they’d put behind it, or remove/cleave away particularly troublesome or thorny routines that they couldn’t easily decode, meaning the modern access to these programs were to incomplete or modified versions. For examples of the many ways these “crack screens” might appear, I created an extensive gallery of them a number of years ago. (Note that there are both monochrome and color versions of the same screen, and these are just screen captures, not playable versions.) They would also focus almost exclusively on games, especially arcade games, meaning any programs that didn’t fall into the “arcade entertainment” section of the spectrum of Apple II programs was left by the wayside entirely.

With an agnostic approach to the disks being preserved, 4am has brought to light many programs that fall almost into the realm of lore and legend, only existing as advertisements in old computer magazines or in catalog listings of computer stores long past.

playable_screenshot (2)

It gets better.

Easily missed if you’re not looking for it are the brilliant and humorous write-ups done by 4am to explain, completely, the process of removing the copy protection routines. The techniques used by software companies to prevent an Apple II floppy drive from making a duplicate while also allowing the program to boot itself were extensive, challenging, and intense. Some examples of these write-ups include this one for “Cause and Effect”, a 1988 education program, as well as this excellent one for “The Quarter Mile”, another educational program. (To find the write-up for a given 4am item in the collection click on the “TEXT” link on the right side of the item’s web page.)

These extensive write-ups shine a light on one of the core situations about these restored computer programs.

As 4am has wryly said over the years, “Copy Protection Works!” – if the copy protection of a floppy disk-based Apple II program was strong and the program did not have the attention of obsessed fans or fall into the hands of collectors, its disappearance and loss was almost guaranteed.  Because many educational and productivity software programs were specialized and not as intensely pursued/wanted as “games” in all their forms, those less-popular genres suffer from huge gaps in recovered history. Sold in small numbers, these floppy disks are subject to bit rot, neglect, and being tossed out with the inevitably turning of the wheels of time.

This collection upends that situation: by focusing on acquiring as many different unduplicated Apple II programs as possible, 4am are using their skills to ensure an extended life and documented reference materials for what would otherwise disappear.

Classifying Animals with Backbones title screen

Already, the collection has garnered some attention – the “Classifying Animals With Backbones” educational program linked above has a guest review from one of the creators describing the process of the application coming to life. And a particularly thorny copy protection scheme on a 1982 game of Burger Time went viral (in a good way) and was read 25,000 times when it was uploaded to the Archive.

In a few cases, the amount of effort behind the copy protection schemes and the concerned engineering involved in removing the copy protection are epics in themselves.

Speed Reader II 091286 screen 3 - main menu

As an example, this educational program Speed Reader II contains extensive copy protection routines, using tricks and traps to resist any attempts to understand its inner workings and misleading any potential parties who are duplicating it. 4am do their best to walk the user through what’s going on, and even if you might not understand the exact code and engineering involved, it leaves the reader smarter for having browsed through it.

This project has been underway for years and is now at the 500 newly-preserved program mark – that’s 500 different obscure programs preserved for the first time, which you can play and experience on the archive.

Get cracking!

Algernon title screen

(The usual notes: The “Play in Browser” technology used at the Internet Archive is still relatively new, and works best on modern machines running newest versions of browsers, especially Firefox, Chrome and Brave. Javascript (not Java) needs to be enabled on the machine to work. (By default on all browsers, it is.) The manuals for many of the programs are not directly available in many cases, so some experimentation is required, although educational programs often worked to be understood without any manuals for the use of their audiences. Thanks to 4am for housing their collection at the Internet Archive and the many individuals on the MAME and JSMESS teams who have made this emulation possible.)

Posted in Emulation, Software Archive | 12 Comments

Distributed Preservation Made Simple

Library partners of the Internet Archive now have at their fingertips an easy way – from a Unix-like command line in a terminal window – to download digital collections for local preservation and access.

This post will show how to use a Internet Archive command-line tool (ia) to download all items in a collection stored on Archive.org, and keep their local collections in sync with the Archive.org collection.

To use ia, the only requirement is to have Python 2 installed on a Unix-like operating system (i.e. Linux, Mac OS X). Python 2 is pre-installed on Mac OS X and most Linux systems so there is nothing more that needs to be done, except to open up a terminal and follow these steps:

1.  Download the latest binary of the ia command-line tool by running the following command in your terminal:

curl -LO https://archive.org/download/ia-pex/ia

2. Make the binary executable:

chmod +x ia

3. Make sure you have the latest version of the binary, version 1.0.0:

./ia --version

4. Configure ia with your Archive.org credentials (This step is only needed if you need privileges to access the items). :

./ia configure

5. Download a collection:

./ia download --search 'collection:solarsystemcollection'

or

./ia download --search 'collection:JangoMonkey'

The above command to “Download a collection”, for example, will download all files from all items from the band JangoMonkey or the NASA Solar System collection. If re-run, by default, will skip over any files already downloaded, as rysnc does, which can help keep your local collection in sync with the collection on Archive.org.

If you would like to download only certain file types, you can use the –glob option. For example, if you only wanted to download JPEG files, you could use a command like:

./ia download --search 'collection:solarsystemcollection' --glob '*.jpeg|*.jpg'

Note that by default ia will download files into your current working directory. If you launch a terminal window without moving to a new directory, the files will be downloaded to your user directory. To download to a different directory, you can either cd into that directory or use the “–destdir” parameter like so:

mkdir solarsystemcollection-collection

./ia download --search 'collection:solarsystemcollection' --destdir solarsystemcollection-collection

Downloading in Parallel

GNU Parallel is a powerful command-line tool for executing jobs in parallel. When used with ia, downloading items in parallel is as easy as:

./ia search 'collection:solarsystemcollection' --itemlist | parallel --no-notice -j4 './ia download {} --glob="*.jpg|*.jpeg"'

The -j option controls how many jobs run in parallel (i.e. how many files are downloaded at a time). Depending on the machine you are running the command on, you might get better performance by increasing or decreasing the number of simultaneous jobs. By default, GNU Parallel will run one job per CPU.

GNU Parallel can be installed with Homebrew on Mac OS X (i.e.: brew install parallel), or your favorite package manager on Linux (e.g. on Ubuntu: apt-get install parallel, on Arch Linux: pacman -S parallel, etc.). For more details, please refer to: https://www.gnu.org/software/parallel/

For more options and details, use the following command:

./ia download --help

Finally, to see what else the ia command-line tool can do:

./ia --help

Documentation of the ia command-line tool is available at: https://internetarchive.readthedocs.org/en/latest/cli.html

There you have it. Library partners, download and store your collections now using this command-line tool from the Internet Archive. If you have any questions or issues, please write to info (at) archive.org. We are trying to make distributed preservation simple and easy!

 

Posted in News, Technical | 6 Comments

Next Librarian of Congress: Carla Hayden

Carla Hayden

Carla Hayden

The President has nominated Carla Hayden to be the next Librarian of Congress.    I have met her through IMLS and support her for this position.

As a public librarian, she can bring an access and public service orientation to a position that has traditionally been focused on Congress’ needs and collecting valuable materials.

The Library of Congress is both a powerful symbol and a fabulous organization.   Its collections are unbelievable– there are employees in Cairo and Delhi collecting the best that humanity has produced. The Library has high collecting standards and has resisted restrictions from being put on access.

For instance, the Library of Congress has actively pursued web archiving since 2000 and made these collections more available than almost any other institution. As the home of the US Copyright Office, the Library can keep the constitutional balance in mind as copyright laws evolve.

All of these features of the Library play into the strengths of Carla Hayden who can help shape a potent institution for our new century.

-brewster

 

Posted in Announcements | 1 Comment

Fair Use & Access to All Human Knowledge

FairUseWeek-Logo-Blue

This is Fair Use Week, an annual recognition of the most important user right in U.S. copyright law. Today we celebrate fair use and fair dealing along with a host of other participating groups and organizations.

The fundamental goal of fair use aligns with the Internet Archive’s mission of providing universal access to all human knowledge. Fair use is often called the “safety valve” of copyright law, built in to ensure that the protection granted to authors doesn’t stifle the very creativity and innovation it was designed to promote. Libraries serve as guardians of the public’s access to information and facilitate education, research, scholarship, creativity, and discovery—activities essential to the functioning of our democratic society. Fair use plays a similar role in the legal world, allowing access and reuse of materials in order to criticize or comment on them, for educational purposes, or in ways that alter the original with a new message or meaning.

Over the years, the flexible nature of fair use has supported the creation and use of new technologies, like the VCR for home recording of television programs, or search engines for the web. It has also helped libraries to adapt to new technologies and bring traditional library functions into the digital age, for example, by allowing libraries to digitize books in their collections for the purposes of building search tools and providing access to the blind and print disabled. Fair use allows artists and musicians to reuse materials to comment on society and the world around them, bloggers to use photos of the people and organizations they are criticizing, and citizens to use videos to comment on the effectiveness of their elected officials. Fair use also allows regular people to engage with our culture, from debating the color of a dress to making creative mashups of existing works.

People across the web have engaged in the creative remixing of materials hosted here at the Archive. For example, we have a collection dedicated to mashups created from the Prelinger film archives. Take a look at one of our favorites: https://archive.org/details/bonobocirrus

Want to make your own mashup from our collection, but not sure how fair use works exactly? Check out this guide to best practices in fair use for online video, which provides some helpful guidelines for understanding how to use fair use. Fair use week is the perfect time to learn about and exercise your own fair use rights.

Posted in Announcements, News | 3 Comments

Internet Archive’s Youngest Volunteer– by b. George

baby-internAt two-and-a-half months, Zinnia Dupler takes the cake as the youngest volunteer to give us a hand here at the Internet Archive. Strapped to her mom, Lindsey, the duo is hard at work out here in our Richmond warehouse, as we sort about 100,000 LPs.  Ten minutes after taking this photo, I encountered a little musical gem on the other side of the warehouse – but we hid it from her crying eyes.

It was in a pile of records being boxed by slightly older interns working on the 48,000 seventy-eights we got from the Batavia Public Library in Illinois, part of the Barrie H.Thorp Collection.

Now this is the first time we’ve had a chance to have a look at this great collection, and so far, it’s quite a surprise. At least the first pallet hasburpin been box-after-box of hillbilly, country, and western swing records. Now I used to think I knew a bit about music. But after this, it’s back to school for me. Just so many artists I’ve never heard of or held a record by. You know, like the Burpin’ Baby warbler, Cactus Pryor and his Pricklypears!

In the ‘G’s alone there’s Curly Gribbs, Lonnie Glosson and the Georgians. Geeez! Did you know that Hank Snow had a recordin’ kid, Jimmy, and he cut “Rocky Mountain Boogie’ on 4 Star Records, or that Cass Daley, star of stage and screen, was the “Queen of Musical Mayhem?” Me neither.  The Davis Sisters, turns out, included a young Skeeter!  There was also a Black Gospel group named the Davis Sisters, also from the 40s, and we got some of those seventy-eights also.  Then there’s them Koen Kobblers, Bill Mooney and his Cactus Twisters, and Ozie Waters and the Colorado Hillbillies. No matter that they should be named the Colorado Mountaineers–they’re new to me.

B.-GeorgeB. George is the Music Curator for the Internet Archive. He is also the co-founder and Director of the ARChive of Contemporary Music in NYC.  ARC is a partner of the Internet Archive, where B. George and his staff help to curate the physical and digital music collections.

 

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Internet Archive Does Windows: Hundreds of Windows 3.1 Programs Join the Collection

Microsoft Windows was, to some people, too little, too late.

Released as Version 1.0 in 1985, the graphic revolution was already happening elsewhere, with other computer operating systems – but Microsoft was determined to catch up, no matter what it cost or took. Version 1.0 of their new multi-tasking navigation program (it was not quite an “Operating System”) appeared and immediately got marks for being a step in the right direction, but not quite a leap. Later versions, including versions 2.0 and 2.1, finished out the late 1980s with a set of graphics-oriented programs that could be run from DOS and allow the use of a mouse/keyboard combination (still new at the time) and a chance for Microsoft to be one of the dominant players in graphical interfaces. It also got them a lawsuit from Apple, which ultimately resulted in a many-years court case and a settlement in 1997 that possibly saved Apple.

Meanwhile, the Windows shell started to become more an more like an operating system, and the introduction of Windows 3.0 and 3.1 brought stability, flexibility, and ease-of-programming to a very wide audience, and cemented the still-dominant desktop paradigms in use today.

In 2015, the Internet Archive started the year with the arrival of the DOS Collection, where thousands of games, applications and utilities for DOS became playable in the browser with a single click. The result has been many hundreds of thousands of visitors to the programs, and many hours of research and entertainment.

This year, it’s time to upgrade to Windows.

win31logo

We’ve now added over 1,000 programs that run, in your browser, in a Windows 3.1 environment. This includes many games, lots of utilities and business software, and what would best be called “Apps” of the 1990s – programs that did something simple, like provide a calculator or a looping animation, that could be done by an individual or small company to great success.

windows

Indeed, the colorful and unique look of Windows 3/3.1 is a 16-bit window into what programs used to be like, and depending on the graphical whims of the programmers, could look futuristic or incredibly basic. For many who might remember working in that environment, the view of the screenshots of some of the hosted programs will bring back long-forgotten memories. And clicking on these screenshots will make them come alive in your browser.

screenshot_00 (2)screenshot_00 (3)screenshot_00 (4)When they focused on it, a developer could produce something truly unique and beautiful within the Windows 3.x environment. Observe this Role-Playing Game “Merlin”:

screenshot_01

But on the whole, the simple libraries for generating clickable boxes and rendering fonts, and an intent to “get the job done” meant that a lot of the programs would look like this instead:

payoff

(Then again, how complicated and arty does a program to calculate amortization amounts have to be?)

Windows 3.1 continues to be in use in a few corners of the world – those easily-written buttons-and-boxes programs drive companies, restaurants, and individual businesses with a dogged determination and extremely low hardware requirements (a recent news story revealed at least one French airport that depended on one).

Many people, though, moved on to Microsoft’s later operating systems, like Windows 95, ME, Vista, 7, and so on. Microsoft itself stopped officially supporting Windows 3.1 in 2001, 15 years ago.

But Windows 3.1 still holds a special place in computer history, and we’re pleased to give you a bridge back to this lost trove of software.

If you need a place to start without being overwhelmed, come visit the Windows Showcase, where we have curated out a sample set of particularly interesting software programs from 20 years ago.

As is often the case with projects like this, volunteers contributed significant time to help bring this new library of software online. Justin Kerk did the critical scripting and engineering work to require only 2 megabytes to run the programs, as well as ensure that the maximum number of Windows 3.1 applications work in the browser-based emulator. (Justin thanks Eric Phelps, who in 1994 wrote the SETINI.EXE configuration program). db48x did loader programming to ensure we could save lots of space. James Baicoianu did critical metadata and technical support. As always, the emulation for Windows and DOS-based programs comes via EM-DOSBOX, which is a project by Boris Gjenero to port DOSBOX into Javascript; his optimization work has been world-class. And, of course, a huge thanks to the many contributing parties of the original DOSBOX project.

Posted in Emulation, Software Archive | 100 Comments

How Will We Explore Books in the 21st Century?

OpenBooksI love working with the Internet Archive’s collections, especially the growing book collection. As an engineer and sometimes scholar, I know there’s a lot of human knowledge inside books that’s difficult to discover. What new things could we do to help our users discover knowledge in books?

Today, most people access books through card catalog search and full-text search — both essentially 20th century technologies. If you ask for something broad or ambiguous, because you don’t know what you’re looking for yet, any attempt to present a short list of the most relevant results is likely to be overly narrow, not inspiring discovery or serendipity.

For the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with a new way to visualize book contents. This experiment starts with one simple idea: Most sentences contain related things. If I see a concept and a year together in a sentence, the odds are that the two are related. Consider this sentence:

A new, Gregorian Calendar, was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

I’ll explain in a minute how I figured out that Gregorian Calendar and Pope Gregory XIII are things, and that 1582 is a year. Given that, what can we learn from the sentence? We can guess that these things and the year are probably associated with each other. This guess is sometimes wrong, but let’s try adding together data from around a hundred thousand books and see what happens:

GregCal-Example

Three years have a relatively large number of sentences containing “Gregorian calendar” and that year. Are these important dates in the history of the Gregorian Calendar? Yes: in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII had Catholic countries adopt this new calendar, replacing the Julian calendar. In 1752, England adopted it, and in 1918, after the Russian Revolution, Bolshevik Russia adopted it.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the actual book sentences from the most popular year, 1582:

1582

The Cambridge handbook of physics formulas

The routine is designed around FORTRAN or C integer arithmetic and is valid for dates from the onset of the Gregorian calendar, 15 October 1582.

The Cambridge history of English literature, 1660-1780

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII (hence the name Gregorian
Calendar) ordered ten days to be dropped from October to make up for the errors that had crept into the so-called Julian Calendar instituted by Julius Caesar, which made the year too long and added a day every one hundred and twenty-eight years.

Chinese history : a manual

They give year, month, and day in cyclical characters and their equivalent in the Western calendar (using the modern Gregorian calendar even for pre-1582 dates).

The crest of the peacock : non-European roots of mathematics

Clavius was a member of the commission that ultimately reformed the Gregorian calendar in 1582.

You can give the experiment a try at https://books.archivelab.org/dateviz/.

Now that you’ve seen what the experiment looks like, let’s look at some of the details of building this visualization. (The code can be found on GitHub at https://github.com/wumpus/visigoth/.)

We need a way to find dates in sentences. Sometimes it’s obvious that something is a date: “January 31, 2016” or “Jan 2016.” Other times it’s more ambiguous: a 4 digit number might be a year, or it might be a section of a US law (“15 U.S.C. § 1692”), or a page number in a book. What I ended up doing was creating a series of patterns (see https://github.com/wumpus/visigoth/blob/master/visigoth/dateparse.py) that look for English helper words (“In 2016”, “before 1812”) before guessing that a 4-digit number is a date. While this technique has both false positives and false negatives, it works well enough not to hurt the visualization significantly.

The next item is generating the list of things (people, places, concepts, etc.) in a sentence. There are many techniques for doing this, ranging from computationally-expensive machine-learning libraries like the Stanford NER library, to using human-generated lists such as the US Library of Congress Name Authority Files. There’s also the complication of disambiguating things like “John Smith.” (Which “John Smith” of the hundreds do we mean?) To match the simple nature of the other algorithms in this experiment, I decided to use a very simple dataset: English Wikipedia article titles. Not only is this a comprehensive collection of encyclopedic things, but there are numerous human-generated “redirects,” which provide a list of synonyms for most article titles. For example, “Western calendar” is a redirect to “Gregorian Calendar,” and in fact numerous books do use the term “Western calendar” to refer to the Gregorian calendar.

Our next task is ranking. Two aspects of this visualization use ranks. First, the suggestions that come up while users are typing in the “thing” box are ordered by Wikipedia article popularity. Eventually we’ll have enough usage of this visualization that we can use our own users’ data to put suggestions in a better order. Until then, using Wikipedia popularity is a good way to make suggestions more relevant.

A ranking of the books themselves is useful in two ways. First, it’s used to pick which example sentences are shown for a given pair of thing/date. Second, given that I only had enough computational resources to process a fraction of the scanned books in the Internet Archive’s collection, I chose 82,000 books using the same ranking scheme. This ranking scheme doesn’t have to be that good in order to deliver a lot of benefit, so I chose a superficial approach of awarding points to academic book publishing houses, book references in Wikipedia articles, and book popularity data from Better World Books, which is a used bookseller & a partner of the Internet Archive.

What’s the result of the experiment? A relatively simple set of algorithms applied to a small collection of high-quality books seems to be both interesting and fun for users. As a next step, I would like to extend it to include a better list of “things”, and extract data from many more books. In a few years, we might have access to 100 times as many scanned books. By then, I hope to find several other new ways to explore book content.

Posted in Announcements, Books Archive, News | 14 Comments

(Educational) Film of the Week: A Shooting Gallery Called America (NBC, 1975)

Because of their role as pedagogical tools directed at students and the general public, educational films have often been the subject of controversy, especially when they tackle fraught social issues from a particular point of view. While it might seem like the debate on gun control, mass shootings and police violence has only recently mushroomed to extraordinary proportions — at least as far as its coverage in the print, broadcast and electronic press is concerned — the issue has a much longer history, including in documentaries and non-theatrical films.

One such film that originated as a TV documentary special on NBC, but whose inclusion in the Internet Archive’s educational films collection indicates its distribution in the K-12 and college film circuit, bears the rather poignant title A Shooting Gallery called America (1975).

The early 1970s were a period fraught with debate about gun control, especially after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

Interestingly enough, a pamphlet issued the previous year by the National Coalition to Ban Handguns had the exact same title, providing evidence of a coordinated campaign for gun control that deployed statistics, testimonies and visual materials calculated to have an emotional impact.

The program caused as polarized a response in 1975 as one would expect a similar broadcast to cause today. NBC received thousands of letters from supporters of both sides of the debate (starting before the program had even been broadcast!) with arguments that have remained almost constant to the present day.

Said one: “We can give you our opinion of your Sunday, March 2nd special ‘Shooting Gallery Called America.’ It stank.

“We found it nothing more than a rehash of the same tired old theme: blame the instrument, not the criminal.”

Another read: “I would like to commend NBC for its coverage of the gun problems in this country. The special, A Shooting Gallery Called America, was very informative. I would like to see it again.”

Producer Lucy Jarvis who would go on to direct many similar documentaries on social causes, later recalled the storm of controversy unleashed by this special:

“People knew we were doing it, and we began to get lots of mail,” she said. ” Probably they were alerted by a national organization. Because there was such an emotional reaction, I didn’t want the program to go until I was doubly sure that everything was checked out.”

As a result the airing date was pushed back on two occasions.

The statistics presented  by the journalists — number of handguns and rifles, number of victims in shooting crimes and accidents — have only gotten worse with the passage of four decades. But the visual vocabulary established by documentaries like this one, from footage of shooting ranges to interviews at gun shows on the one hand and with families of victims of gun violence on the other, will be more than familiar to viewers of cable and network news in 2016.

As a recent article revisiting the program and its reception forty years ago put it in a rather rhetorical fashion: “Why has nothing changed in 40 years?”

 

 

Posted in Movie Archive, News | Comments Off on (Educational) Film of the Week: A Shooting Gallery Called America (NBC, 1975)

Political TV Ad Archive launches today

Political TV Ad Archive 02

New, free website archives political TV ads in 2016 primaries married with fact-checking and reporting from award-winning journalism partners

After sifting through more than 100,000 hours of broadcast television coverage and counting, the Internet Archive today launches its new, free Political TV Ad Archive website —PoliticalAdArchive.org — with more than 30,000 ad airings archived. This new resource will bring journalists, researchers, and the public resources to help hold politicians accountable for the messages they deliver in TV ads.

Each ad is accompanied by underlying, downloadable data on how often it has aired, where, and when in 20 TV markets throughout eight key primary states. In addition, the site links to fact-checking and follow-the-money journalism by the project’s partners: the American Press Institute, the Center for Responsive Politics, the Center for Public Integrity, the Duke Reporters’ Lab, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and The Washington Post’sFact Checker.

The ads range from Democrat Bernie Sanders’ ad blanketing Iowa with more than 1,300 airings that proclaims him to be a “pragmatist”; to Marco Rubio’s proclamation that “this is the greatest country in the world, and acting like it,” which aired more than 1,700 times in Iowa and New Hampshire; to the negative ad sponsored by super PAC Right to Rise, which supports Jeb Bush, that takes a swing at rivals Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio in thirty seconds flat.

The ad collection also gathers instances where news broadcasts have played excerpts of ads or even entire ads as part of their reporting — in other words, “earned media.” For example, Trump’s first ad, which focused on immigration, was aired several times as part of news reports.

Political TV Ad Archive 01On the new website, each ad is archived on its own page, along with downloadable metadata on how often the ad has aired, on which TV stations, where, and when. These data also include information on who is sponsoring the ad, the subject(s) covered in the ad, which candidates are targeted in the ad, and the type of legal designation of the sponsor — e.g., super PAC, campaign committee, 501(c), and so on.

“Public libraries are a cornerstone of democracy; by providing information to anyone who seeks it, they give citizens the ability to make better decisions,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “We’re creating this library of political ads so that voters have some control over the messages that politicians and outside groups pile on at election time.”

“Before the primaries are over, the public in key primary states will be buried in campaign ads generating more heat than light. This new website will be a resource for journalists, academics, civic groups and the general public to have a better chance at separating lies from truths and learn who is paying for the ads,” said Roger Macdonald, director of the Television Archive for the Internet Archive.

Internet Archive senior engineer, Dan Schultz, an innovator in harnessing technology for fact checking, tapped an open source audio fingerprinting tool developed by Columbia University known as “audfprint” to track down airings of political TV ads in the television broadcast airwaves. He built on engineering created by Tracey Jaquith, architect of the TV Archive. The new system, whimsically named the “Duplitron,” is also open source and should prove useful in other video/audio analysis projects.

“Thanks to technological advances, we can find a copy of a political ad, create an unique fingerprint, and then match it to other segments of audio that share that same fingerprint. The result: we can figure out how many times ads have aired, where, and when,” said Schultz.

Key findings so far from the project’s journalism partners include:

  • PolitiFact rated a claim in this Donald Trump campaign ad as “Pants on Fire” because it proclaimed that Trump would “stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for,” while showing footage not of Mexican immigrants, but rather of refugees streaming into Morocco that had been pulled from an Italian news network. See the ad here.
  • FactCheck.org reported that a Hillary Clinton TV ad that claimed that drug prices had doubled in the last seven years was inaccurate: “A report, provided by her campaign, says brand-name drug prices on average have more than doubled. But more than 80 percent of filled prescriptions are generic drugs, and those prices have declined by nearly 63 percent, that same report says.” See the ad here.
  • The Washington Post’sFact Checker gave four Pinocchios to a claim in an ad sponsored by Ted Cruz’s campaign charging that Sen. Marco Rubio, Fla., had compromised on the immigration issue. This claim comes from Cruz’ contention that Rubio supported a bill that would give “President Obama blanket authority to admit Syrian refugees…without mandating meaningful background checks…” The fact-checking group pointed to immigration experts who say this interpretation of the immigration bill in question is wrong. See the ad here.
  • The Center for Public Integrity has reported that an ad targeting Trump, Rubio, and Cruz, sponsored by the super PAC Right to Rise, which supports Jeb Bush, was funded by “close confidants of Bush and his storied political family.” This includes scions of banks and equity firms. See the ad here.
  • More than 80 percent of ads run in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries are sponsored by super PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, up 71 percent over 2011 and a 12,000 percent jump over 2007. The analysis was done in conjunction with Wesleyan Media Project.

The Political TV Ad Archive is collecting television from key primary states before the primary or caucus in that particular state. Instances of airings captured by the website include both paid media and “earned media” — when TV news broadcasts air significant portions of ads while doing stories about them.

The Political TV Ad Archive is funded by the Knight News Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Challenge is a joint effort of the Rita Allen Foundation, the Democracy Fund, and the Hewlett Foundation. Christopher Buck and Craig Newmark have made individual contributions to the project. In addition, the Internet Archive has received funding from the Democracy Fund to conduct joint trainings of journalists in key primary states in partnership with the American Press Institute. The launch event is co-sponsored by the National Press Club Journalism Institute.

“This new tool has the potential to bring more accountability to the voting process, providing a resource to uncover and verify important information in the lead up to the 2016 elections,” said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media innovation.

Posted in Announcements, News | 2 Comments

Netlabel Day opens applications for independent labels

netlabelday
M.I.S.T. Records organizes the new version of this musical event, which in its first edition united 80 labels from all around the world, releasing more than 120 albums for free in digital format.

We’re excited to announce that our 2016 call for digital record labels that want to be part of the second edition of the Netlabel Day is now open. From January 15 to February 29, we’ll be receiving emails at contact.netlabelday@gmail.com for all applicants.

The second edition of Netlabel Day has the mission of continuing to showcase the best of the online independent music scene through widespread music releases (EPs, LPs, singles, compilations) on July 14, 2016. Also this year, we’re going to organize some local gigs and record label expos in Argentina, Canada and Chile, amongst other countries to confirm.

netlabelsThis year we have the lovely support of the Internet Archive and Free Music Archive, two of the most important platforms for netlabels around the globe. We are also proud to announce the sponsorship of Creative Commons, who will help organize the correct use and distribution of all the material released this year.

The original Netlabel Day event was created by the Chilean label M.I.S.T. Records in March 2015, organizing a very successful first edition with 80 labels from countries such as Iceland, Poland, Spain, US, Finland, Norway, Russia, Italy, France, and of course, Chile.

“The goal this year is to discuss, debate, promote, and explore the state of musical management in the participant countries”, says Manuel Silva, M.I.S.T. label head and creator of this celebration.

For more details, please visit netlabelday.blogspot.com, or email us to contact.netlabelday@gmail.com.

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Use the Archive’s resources to help make Wikipedia a better resource

search results with the category finder

So you think you can internet? Help Wikipedia get more citations.

This week is Wikipedia’s 15th birthday and the Wikipedia Library has created the #1lib1ref campaign this week to encourage information professionals and others to add one citation to Wikipedia’s many [citation needed] tags in their articles. If every librarian in the world added one citation, there would be no more [citation needed] tags!

The Internet Archive is a great source for fact checking and our web-native content is easy to cite! Here’s some more information if you’d like to get started.

You can start from our texts collection, use our advanced search or try Open Library’s full text search. You can even add citations to content from our TV News Archive which can search captions or find historical information about the internet using the Wayback Machine. The campaign only goes through the 23rd but please feel free to keep adding citations and increasing the usefulness of Wikipedia by using our primary and secondary source materials.

Posted in Announcements, News | 2 Comments

Memories of David Bowie by B. George

Bowie_glitter_signed

I learned of David Bowie’s death while watching an old film, The False Madonna (1931). In it a very beautiful young man dies. He is blind, wealthy, kind. Maybe it’s only a coincidence that makes for a good story, but it makes the blow ever harder.

David was on ARChive of Contemporary Music’s Board of Advisors since the late 90s. I only met him four or five times. We had helped with his website finding him copies of some of his singles, and he was kind enough to sign a pile of LPs that we could auction off or give away.  The one above was hand decorated by a fan.  It’s an early US pressing of Hunky Dory (1971), that’s why there’s no lettering on the front cover like the UK release.  Plenty of room for a signature and glitter.

InviteAweb1

David attended a few ARC parties, and hosted one of our best ones, introducing the re-invented version of Chic. Now this is where you’re going to think me a bit mad, but when he walked into the party, Iman on his arm, he seemed to glow. More remarkably he gave a great deal of his time, staying the full four hours at his table, talking to anyone and everyone who came his way. Truly remarkable for an artist of his stature. Yet even in 2000 his eyes were failing and he was led to the stage by his pal and long-time producer Tony Visconti.

No need for us to recount the innovative and important work. It will stand. The odd little film and David’s unexpected death left me sleepless. He will be missed.

B. GeorgeB. George is the Co-Founder and Director of the ARChive of Contemporary Music in NYC. With over three million sound recordings, ARC is the largest popular music collection in America.  The initial donation of 47,000 discs that began ARC came from his personal collection.  ARC is a partner of the Internet Archive, where B. George and his staff help to curate the physical and digital music collections.

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MY ONLINE MEMORY–Guest Curating the Archive by Jessamyn West

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 6.22.45 PMI work at the Internet Archive via the Open Library project but I was a crate digger here long before that. My earliest memories of the Archive are using the Wayback Machine to find old copies of my first web sites (many now lost to 302 redirects) and other memory-holed content. I lived on the West Coast, was fresh out of library school at the University of Washington and used my nascent blog to yammer on about, among other things, all the great free culture stuff on the Web. The old links to my blog still work but the same can’t be said for an incredible amount of content online. The Internet Archive is the online memory for many of us.

I use the internet to make the local global, and vice versa. Here are some other things I love at the Internet Archive.

Maps of Home (and elsewhere)

I can see my house from here.

I can see my house from here.

My home in Vermont is in a bit of an Internet shadow. This is the good news and the bad news. One of the things this means is that if I want to go hiking or exploring, there may not be a ready online resource I can consult for trail and terrain maps. USGS maps are supposedly free but getting access to them used to be complicated if not impossible. Enter the Libre Map Project where a team of people donated money and time and resources to make USGS maps of all fifty states available and searchable from one central location at the Internet Archive. Oh hey look, there’s a review by me from 2009.

Family Histories (mine and others’)

The last Joseph Thomas West listed on this page is my grandfather. Joseph Thomas West IV was my dad. I found this book once before, digging through Massachusetts libraries shortly after college. I had a bunch of its pages stuffed into a folder someplace. It was a joy to find it again.

page from the town history of princeton

On the other side of my family, my great-grandparents were just arriving in the US at the turn of the last century. Accessing the US Census through the Archive means I could track them as they moved from New Jersey to New York and back out to New Jersey. Morris is my grandfather. In the 1910 census he was six years old.

census form with Cohon names on it.

The Archive has a wealth of searchable and downloadable family history books many of which are unavailable elsewhere online.

Ten+ years of Matisyahu shows

Live at Red Rocks

Live at Red Rocks

For Hannukah or any time, Matisyahu’s hazzan-esque lyrical reggae rapping is a tonic for a hectic life. Even better to listen to (and easier to embed) with the newer version of the Archive’s site. I keep this on background when I answer Open Library emails and do other keyboard-intensive work. Thanks to Matisyahu for allowing the Archive to store and distribute his music as part of their extensive Live Music Archive.

Boooooooooks

Mole people!

Mole people!

Steam powered color printing!

Steam powered color printing!

Rolling along modern style

Rolling along modern style

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the BookReader was first released as a way for people to read books online using a book-like interface, it was way ahead of the curve. The online reading experience has improved elsewhere but the Archive is still one of the first places I go to find public domain content (books and magazines) to read, share, answer reference questions, or just use in my presentations. So many libraries in North and South America (or Canada specifically) and Africa have great collections at the Archive from the Biodiversity Heritage Library to New York Public Library to the US National Library of Medicine to 13,000 books in Arabic. Comics! Creepy magazines! Yearbooks! Encyclopedias and dictionaries!

And all of it is available for anyone, for free, whenever they want it.

Happy travels!

Happy travels!

Jessamyn West is a librarian and community technologist. She helps run the Internet Archive’s Open Library project and writes a column for Computers in Libraries magazine. She works with small libraries and businesses in Central Vermont to help them use technology to solve problems.

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EXHIBITION OPENING- From Clay to the Cloud: The Internet Archive and Our Digital Legacy– January 23

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On View at the Laband Art Gallery
Loyola Marymount University
January 23 – March 20, 2016

Opening Reception: Saturday, January 23, 2-5pm
Talks by Brewster Kahle, Founder of Internet Archive
and Artist Nuala Creed

Ceramic Archivists being moved from their home at the Internet Archive's San Francisco headquarters

Nuala Creed’s Ceramic Archivists being packed for transport from their home at the SF headquarters of the Internet Archive to the Laband Gallery in LA.

Loyola Marymount University’s Laband Art Gallery and the William H. Hannon Library are collaborating on a new exhibit, From Clay to the Cloud:  The Internet Archive and our Digital Legacy, which runs January 23- March 20, 2016.

From Clay to The Cloud explores the human impetus to preserve our knowledge, our memory, and our cultural heritage. Twenty years ago, the Internet Archive took on the challenge of creating a digital repository—a 21st-century Library of Alexandria—where swaths of our lives from the Internet and other sources will be stored for generations to come. In order to be useful, this unfathomably vast collection of data (over 20 petabytes and growing) needs to be explored and activated by humans who seek to tell stories and make sense of it. The exhibition looks at past and present archival practices and asks what are we saving, how will others be able to access it, and what will our cultural legacy be for the future?

Artist, Nuala Creed, dismantles a sculpture of Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive.

Artist, Nuala Creed, dismantles a sculpture of Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive.

Ancient clay cuneiforms will be on view as well as artist Nuala Creed’s ceramic statues depicting the people who are building the Internet Archive–crucial reminders of the human involvement in this digital library. Hands-on displays will offer visitors the opportunity to dive into the vast “storerooms” of the Internet Archive.  A wall of monitors will convey both the unfathomable vastness of the archive and shine a spotlight on different specific aspects of the archive (pulling needles out of the haystack). A listening stationing made up of music from the Internet Archive’s collection can be perused in comfortable chairs. A gaming station will offer visitors the 3 opportunity to play a handful of video games archived on the Internet Archive. These games span the history and evolution of video gaming from Pong to PacMan to today. There will also be an 3-D Occulus Rift demonstration station

During the course of the exhibition, Laband and Hannon staff will be using a Table Top Scribe—the Internet Archive’s new state-of-the-art book scanner–in the gallery to digitally archive rare materials from the library’s special collections and Laband exhibition catalogues

Exhibition-Related Programs:  (all events are free)

Opening Reception & Talk: Nuala Creed & Brewster Kahle 
Saturday, January 23, 2-5pm  ◊ Artist’s Talk 2:00-3:00pm  ◊ Reception 3:00-5:00pm
Murphy Recital Hall and Laband Art Gallery
Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle and artist Nuala Creed offer insight into the archive and Creed’s unique artistic commission. The talk will be followed by a free reception. The talk is co-organized by the Laband Art Gallery and KaleidoLA: The Speaker Series of the Department of Art and Art History.

Ask An Archivist Panel
Wednesday. February 10, 5:30-7:00 pm
Von der Ahe Suite 322, William H. Hannon Library
Archivists representing diverse archives from across Southern California will discuss the relationship between researchers and archivists in the digital age.

DIY Archiving Workshop & Exhibition Tour
Saturday. February 13, 9:30am-12:30pm
Von der Ahe Suite 322, William H. Hannon Library
Learn how to best preserve your treasured documents, images, and objects, both print and digital. The workshop will be followed by a tour of the exhibition with curator Carolyn Peter.
Conversation: Gaming, Its Past and Its Future, Tracy Fullerton & Tom Klein
Tuesday, March 8, 7pm LMU Von der Ahe Building, Room 190
USC Game Designer/Professor Tracy Fullerton and LMU Animation Professor Tom Klein will discuss how traditions of analog and digital game design inform the creative process of current video game development. This program is co-organized with the School of Film and Television.
Talk: The Dark Side: Your Personal Archive, Data Collection, & Privacy
Date and Time TBD
TBD Location
Other types of archiving and data collection are occurring on a daily basis around our shopping, browsing, and physical location. Where is this information going and how do citizens protect their privacy in a digital age? This program is co-organized with the Department of Communication Studies.

Free Little Libraries
Dotted across LMU’s campus are Free Little Libraries where you can take a book and/or leave a book.
Stop by the Laband or the Hannon Library for a map and go on a treasure hunt to locate them all. For More Information For current program and exhibition information,
call 310-338-2880 or visit http://cfa.lmu.edu/laband.

Gallery Information
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Admission: Admission is free.
Parking is available on campus for a charge on the weekdays and for free on the weekends.

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Washington, DC briefing January 22 on new, free website tracking political ads

Political TV Ad Archive

The Internet Archive will be launching a new project — the Political TV Ad Archive — in Washington, DC. See details below, and stay tuned for updates:

Where: National Press Club, Murrow Room, Washington, DC

When: January 22, 2016, 9:00 am – 11:00 am

What: The Internet Archive launches the Political TV Ad Archive, an online, free digital library resource where reporters can find federal-level political TV ads in key primary states in the 2016 elections, married with fact-checking and information on the organizations funding the ads, along with downloadable metadata. Come hear about what Internet Archive and its partners have found so far:

  • When and where have ads aired?
  • Which ads contain the most egregious truth stretching or full-on lies?
  • Which candidates have been the focus of the most ads?
  • Who is paying for the ads, or is that information hidden?

Why: Political TV ad spending is expected to be in the billions. Yet the same local stations that air the ads provide very little solid reporting on politics. Even fewer correct misinformation in the ads. In partnership with trusted journalistic organizations, and with the support of the Knight News Challenge, an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the new Political TV Ad Archive will help reporters stop the spin cycle by providing contextual data and information to evaluate ads. The National Press Club Journalism Institute is co-sponsoring this event.

How: The Political TV Ad Archive is monitoring television in 20 key markets in eight states, starting with such locations as Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Sioux City in Iowa and Boston-Manchester in New England. The project is using experimental audio fingerprint technology to track political TV ads for federal races. On the new website, journalists can find embeddable videos of the ads along with downloadable metadata giving them the scoop on which ads have aired, where, and when. Data will also include information on the sponsor — whether it’s a super PAC, 501(c) group that does not disclose donors, candidate-sponsored ad, or some other entity — as well as the candidates targeted.

Who:

Roger Macdonald, Director, Television Archive, Internet Archive

Kathy Kiely, Board of Directors, National Press Club Journalism Institute

John Dunbar, Deputy Executive Editor, Center for Public Integrity

Robert Maguire, Political Nonprofit Investigator, Center for Responsive Politics

Lori Robertson, Managing Editor, FactCheck.org

Louis Jacobson, Senior Correspondent, PolitiFact

Glenn Kessler, Editor, The Washington Post’s Fact Checker

Nancy Watzman, Managing Editor, Television Archive, Internet Archive

Dan Schultz, Senior Software Engineer, Television Archive, Internet Archive

Online video will be available online 24 hours after event. Stay tuned for details and link.

Press Contact:

Nancy Watzman
nancyw@archive.org

Posted in News | 6 Comments

(Educational) Film of the Week: Biography (TV Series, 1961-3)

Educational films and TV programs very often center around great events, artworks, books or historical figures, subscribing to a model of historiography that Matthew Arnold summarized as “the best that has been thought and known in the world.” It is thus not surprising that the Internet Archive’s collection of educational films includes many examples of biographical portraits of great men (and they are almost always dead white men). Prominent among these shows was the long-running “Biography” series, hosted by the late Mike Wallace, that ultimately spawned the creation of an entire network of the same name (recently revived as “FYI.”)

Multiple episodes of the original run of the TV series from 1961 to 1963 (comprising a total of 65 half-hour shows) have been digitized from 16mm prints that were circulated among schools and universities after the original airing of the syndicated show.

In contrast with later iterations of this series, the original run focused on deceased, historical figures without the focus on the entertainment industry and celebrity that was prominent later on.

It goes without saying that in profiling figures like Spanish dictator Francisco Franco or Soviet leader Josef Stalin the program does not stand up to any scholarly standard of objectivity; it is very much a reflection of the cold war sensibilities that produced it. The choice of subjects, too, reflects a bias toward statesmen (including even politicians like Fiorello Laguardia who no longer have the name recognition they once did) and figures of American history and culture like Mark Twain and Clarence Darrow. However, the episodes do include a variety of rare archival footage that functions as a primary historical document, making them still valuable from a pedagogical and scholarly point of view. Another aspect of the series that remains useful today is the larger argument it presents about the relationship between an individual life and the course of national and global history.

Films in the Internet Archive’s educational film collection thus provide a window not only into history but also the way in which it was recorded, whether in written or audiovisual forms, which in turn had a great influence on the way history was taught and learned throughout the twentieth century.

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The Internet Archive Telethon Pt. 3

See also Parts 1 and 2.

We dreamed up the idea of an Internet Archive Telethon, and due to the work of employees, volunteers, and performers, we put together an (almost) 24-hour show. We had an amazing time doing it.

But what were the results?

yay

In total, including the 2-1 matching grant we had going on, we raised $131,134 across the 24 hour telethon period. Many donations were $50 or $100, with some lower and a few higher. Watching the funding trends that were in effect from the previous year and this month, there was roughly $30,000 expected to be made if we hadn’t done anything unusual beyond the fundraising banner and the usual contacting of folks to donate. So that means, unscientifically, that the Internet Archive Telethon caused a 400 percent increase in donations, which makes it a wild success!

A shout-out to Doug Kaye of IT Conversations, who donated $10,000 to the event towards the end, as well as Kevin Savetz, who contributed $1,500 in the name of the vintage computing history he and others have been uploading. Limor Fried of Adafruit donated $500, and many, many others contributed other amounts throughout the day and night.

Not only was money raised, but awareness was raised: people were being told about the show and were checking out the Internet Archive for the first time. We got a chance to see everyone excited and happy at the end of the year about this place we work in, and to talk about what brings us there. And the performance acts, all volunteering time and effort, provided us with amazing entertainment and spectacle. It was a resounding success on many other levels as well.

Will it happen again next year? Who knows. What we do know is how incredibly wonderful the experience was, even through all the hard work and intense effort, and how great it is that a mission like the Archive’s can inspire so much.

Thank you so much for being a part of this.

There are so many people to thank for this event. We’ll start with Eddie Codel for livestreaming equipment and Jasmine/Chris/Alex at Support Class for their on-screen reactive graphics – you all made us seem much more professional. On the internal side of Internet Archive employees, June Goldsmith handled administration concerns with the hosting of the event and worked out logistics. The front office (Katherine, Laurel and Michelle) made the calls and the reaching out for security, scheduling and logistics. Michelle invited many of our acts and made logistical arrangements for their media, as well as recruited and organized our team of non-staff volunteers. Wendy Hanamura provided advice, booking, and contacts for multiple acts, as well as being onsite for portions of the event.  A lot of employees and volunteers came onsite to help run the Cortex, including Sam, Davide, Jake, Kevin, Laurel, Trevor, Jackie, Carolyn, and Jeff. Rachel Lovinger was a tireless producer for the majority of the cortex’s existence. Carolyn did the Telethon landing page graphics and web design. Will Fitzgerald provided coding for the banner linkage as well as a major assist to near-realtime automatic updating of telethon fundraising totals. Ralf, Tracey, Tim, Trevor, and Brewster and others helped during the Great Network Confusion of December 2015, getting the entire network infrastructure whipped into shape. And, of course, our many acts, including Conspiracy of Beards, Diva Marisa Lendhart, Craig Baldwin, Andy Isaacson, Chris Gray, Justin Hall, Lauren Taylor, Jeff Kaplan, Odd Salon, Gary Gach, Trevor von Stein, the Balkan Brass Band, Alexis Rossi and Dwalu Khasu, Rick and Megan Prelinger, John Perry Barlow and John Gilmore, John Law.

We are no doubt missing many more people who contributed to the Telethon both behind and in front of the camera –  it’s a testimony to how many hands came forward to lift this dream up into reality. Thanks to everyone who was a part of it.

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