From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
Dating Historic Images A key to using clues in photos to narrow down the date of construction for historic vernacular architecture, from University of Vermont's Landscape Change digital image project. [more inside]
Judaism's core texts grew out of millennia-long conversations and arguments across generations, with interconnected dialogues, source citing and (re)interpretation. Now, it's all going digital: Sefaria is creating a massive public domain, interactive "living library of Jewish texts and their interconnections, in Hebrew and translations." Their goal is to build a reference resource and community that "gives a better learning experience than anything that comes before it," from ancient to modern texts and "all the volumes of commentary in between." Read texts, browse submitted public source sheets on dozens of topics or visualize associations between texts.
Kodak’s First Digital Moment
“It only took 50 milliseconds to capture the image, but it took 23 seconds to record it to the tape,” Mr. Sasson said. “I’d pop the cassette tape out, hand it to my assistant and he put it in our playback unit. About 30 seconds later, up popped the 100 pixel by 100 pixel black and white image.”
Foundation: Public Goods and Options for the Bottom Billions - "Human beings just don't handle the very long run well" and that's where government increasingly comes in... (via) [more inside]
The New York Public Library has released more than 20,000 high resolution cartographic works (maps!) for free, to view and download. "We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions." All can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page and downloaded through their Map Warper. (Via) [more inside]
Enter some text about your interests or research topic into the Serendip-O-Matic, and get an intriguing array of related images and primary sources from the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Europeana, and Flickr Commons. A One Week | One Tool project.
Google brings its Street View cameras into the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is their largest special Street View collection to date: 6000 panoramic images, including the Apollo 14 module, the Vehicle Assembly Building, Launch Firing Room #4 and Space Shuttle Orbiters Atlantis and Endeavour. Intro Video. (Via) [more inside]
Towards the end of the 1800s, there were three primary American groups competing to invent technology to record and play back audio. Alexander Graham Bell worked with with Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell in at their Volta Laboratory in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., while Thomas A. Edison worked from his Menlo Park facilities, and Emile Berliner worked in his independent laboratory in his home. To secure the rights to their inventions, the three groups sent samples of their work to the Smithsonian. These recordings became part of the permanent collections, now consisting of 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made. But knowledge of their contents was limited to old, short descriptions, as the rubber, beeswax, glass, tin foil and brass recording media are fragile, and playback devices might damage the recordings, if such working devices are even available. That is, until a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came together to make 2D and 3D optical scanners, capable of visually recording the patterns marked on discs and cylinders, respectively. [more inside]
Driving through Time features roughly 2700 photographs and 76 interactive maps of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The website allows students, researchers, and digital tourists to uncover hidden stories, hear forgotten voices, and understand the often wrenching choices that the construction and preservation of a scenic parkway in a populated region have necessarily entailed. [more inside]
Are small theaters punching a ticket to oblivion? Radical changes in the traditional structure of the lab processing and exhibition sides of the film industry have been filling the lives of small theater operators with uncertainty and worry for the last few years. Will filmstock be the next Kodachrome? (And what will that mean for the future of film preservation?) [more inside]
The contraption was "created from a mishmash of lenses and computer parts and an old Super 8 movie camera." It was the size of a toaster, ran off "sixteen nickel cadmium batteries, a highly temperamental new type of CCD imaging area array, an a/d converter implementation stolen from a digital voltmeter" and took 23 seconds to record an image to cassette tape. But when Steve Sasson and his team of Kodak technicians presented the world's first digital camera to the public in 1975, they were asked: 'Why would anyone ever want to view his or her pictures on a TV?' [more inside]
A decade of digital music Vaguely styled as a timeline, this end-of-the-decade blog post (from UK digital music news source Music Ally) could prove valuable to anyone studying the music business or the intersection between entertainment and technology. The piece links to ten years of stories on digital music - from Napster through to Spotify - allowing us to look back on the issues without the 20/20 vision of hindsight. Gems include the Bluematter scheme from Universal Records in 2000, which comprised 60 non-transferrable, non-burnable tracks for $1.99 each.
Circuits are flipping on in the nation's attic. A couple of weeks ago, 31 "digerati" -- like Clay Shirky, Chris Anderson, and George Oates -- dropped in to the Smithsonian Institution for the invitation-only conference "Smithsonian 2.0: A Gathering to Re-imagine the Smithsonian in the Digital Age". Dan Cohen of the Center for History and New Media provides a great summary (and continues to pose provocative questions) on his own blog. Those whose invitations were somehow lost in the mail can play fly-on-the-wall by watching the keynotes, paging through the Flickr pool of envymaking glimpses of their behind-the-scenes lab and collections tours, reading the blog (where Bruce Wyman of the Denver Art Museum lays out a succinct road map for museums using social media), and poking around in the SI's website gallery. Want to cheer on the USA's favorite 163-year-old "Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge" without taking the trip to DC? Thanks to their recent efforts, you can now follow the SI on Twitter, listen to its podcasts, watch its YouTube channel, visit the Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life, or use the FaceBook gifts page to send your best friends their very own pair of Dorothy's ruby slippers, Hope diamond, Negro Leagues baseball, or coelocanth.
Moving Image Source is devoted to the history of film, television, and digital media. It features original articles by leading critics, authors, and scholars; a calendar that highlights major retrospectives, festivals, and gallery exhibitions at venues around the world; and a regularly updated guide to online research resources. [more inside]
This is a collection of the National Archives stored in the Digital Vaults. You can browse through hundreds of photographs, documents, and film clips and discover the connection between some of the National Archives' most treasured records. With the Pathways tool you can see the unique and surprising connections between events and people and test your knowledge of history. As you travel through the site and collect documents, images and films, you can then merge the objects to create your own poster or movie from your collection.
Scattered Leaves In the early decades of the 20th century, a Cleveland book collector named Otto Ege removed the pages from 50 medieval manuscript books, divided the pages among 40 boxes, and sold the boxes around the world. Now the University of Saskatchewan plans to digitally remake the book.