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That’s technology for you, always making an ass out of someone.

Sarah Wendall, of the romance book blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, discovers a disturbing quirk of optical character recognition used to digitize older texts: the word "arms" is converted to "anus". [more inside]
posted by almostmanda on Jul 7, 2014 - 76 comments

Discovering Literature through the collections of the British Library

The British Library today unveiled a major addition to its website: Discovering Literature, a portal to digitized collections and supporting material. The first installment, Romantics and Victorians, includes work from Austen, the Brontës, Dickens, and Blake, and forthcoming modules will expand coverage of the site to encompass everything from Beowulf to the present day.
posted by Horace Rumpole on May 15, 2014 - 6 comments

Remember, if approached by a librarian, keep still. Do not run away.

Welcome to a tumblr of wonders. Special Collections, archives, and libraries have many wonderful items, but getting to them all can be a bit like trying to walk into Mordor, unless you have unlimited time and grants. But now, thanks to Tumblr, you too can explore collections around the world, and one of the best comes to us from the University of Iowa. Want a Hamlet quote on a miniature book that unfolds into a tiny Globe Theatre? Of course you do. Actual flying squirrels? Adventure with Alice! Get close to illuminations? Catch a glimpse of hipster frames circa 1504? More awesome librar* tumblrs inside. [more inside]
posted by jetlagaddict on Dec 26, 2013 - 13 comments

Reel 2 Real: Sound at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Reel 2 Real: Sound at the Pitt Rivers Museum is a digitization project that is taking the archival field recordings of the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford University's museum of ethnography and anthropology), digitizing them, and placing them online with Soundcloud. [more inside]
posted by carter on Mar 19, 2013 - 12 comments

Hwæt!

In 1731, a fire broke out in Ashburnham House, where the greatest collection of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, the Cottonian Library, was then being stored. Frantically, the trustees raced into the burning library and hurled priceless and unique manuscripts out the windows in order to save them. One of these was the sole manuscript of Beowulf. Today, bearing the charred edges of its brush with extinction, it's been digitized by the British Library, along with a group of other treasures including Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Arundel and the Harley Golden Gospels.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Feb 11, 2013 - 25 comments

Down and Out in Paris and Berlin

Russians without Russia is an elegantly designed digital archive of the magazines and newspapers produced by the Russian exile communities of 1920s and 30s.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 30, 2013 - 12 comments

JSTOR Register and Read

The digital library JSTOR has announced its new Register & Read program, under which users unaffiliated with an institution can access "approximately 1,200 journals from more than 700 publishers, a subset of the content in JSTOR. This includes content from the first volume and issue published for these journals through a recent year (generally 3-5 years ago)." [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Jan 14, 2013 - 58 comments

The Preserved Silent Animation project, part of the UCLA Digital Library Program

"Although best-known for its restoration of feature films, UCLA Film & Television Archive has been preserving animated films for more than three decades, with over one hundred titles to its credit. The short subjects, trailers, and promotional films presented here provide a representative sampling of that work. They have been preserved from best-surviving and sole-surviving 35mm nitrate and 16mm prints, showcasing many forms of animation spanning the entire silent film era." The UCLA Preserved Silent Animation project, one of over 80 collections made available through the UCLA Digital Library Program.
posted by cog_nate on Aug 30, 2012 - 4 comments

Dr. Livingstone's diary deciphered

For more than two years, scholars and imaging scientists have been using advanced scanning techniques to recover the mostly illegible contents of an 1871 field diary kept by the British explorer David Livingstone in Africa. Low on paper and ink, the explorer had resorted to writing on newspaper sheets, with ink made from berries, and over time the original document had become almost impossible to read. Now the team has unveiled an online “multispectral critical edition” with images, transcriptions, and relevant notes, making Livingstone’s first-person account accessible again. They’ve also created a “Livingstone Spectral Images Archive” to give anyone who wants it direct access to the images, transcriptions, and metadata the project has created, no strings attached. Almost everything in both the edition and the archive comes with a Creative Commons license that allows the contents to be reused with attribution. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 3, 2012 - 11 comments

5-3-1852: Prince Albert still won't get out of the can

The diaries of Queen Victoria, totaling 47,000 pages and running from the age of 13 until her death, have been digitized. The site will be free to UK users, but open access for the rest of the world only runs through the end of June.
posted by Horace Rumpole on May 24, 2012 - 33 comments

I can see my Grandma from here

The U.S. National Archives today released the returns from the 1940 national census, providing an invaluable resource to historians and genealogists. At the moment, you'll need to know the particular address you want to see--the records are not yet searchable by name. A companion project seeks to fix that by enlisting your help in a crowdsourced project to index the census data. However, if you're looking for a New York address, you can use this clever site from the New York Public Library to look someone up in the 1940 phone book. (FYI, the site seems to be running a bit sluggishly under first-day load, so you may need to be patient.)
posted by Horace Rumpole on Apr 2, 2012 - 31 comments

Closer I Am to Van Eyck

Closer to Van Eyck is an ultra-high-resolution look at one of the greatest masterpieces of Flemish painting, the Ghent Altarpiece (previously) an astounding 100 billion pixels in size. Stolen, with permission, from peacay's Twitter stream.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Feb 26, 2012 - 16 comments

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

For much of the time since their discovery in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were the jealously guarded treasure of a select group of scholars. Now, thanks to a partnership between Google and the Israel Museum, five scrolls have been digitized and made available online.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Sep 26, 2011 - 25 comments

"These records of what men and women absorb with diligent neglect of health and spiritual welfare."

"What's on the menu?", the New York Public Library asks. Cincinnati Ham, Champagne Sauce. Baked Weakfish. Republican Punch. Cup of Beef Tea. [more inside]
posted by nev on Apr 19, 2011 - 47 comments

There come forth from them pearls, both large and small

The Koran of Kansuh al-Ghuri is a 500 year old manuscript written on six foot square sheets of a silken, vellum-like fabric which is polished with smooth stones so that ink sits on the surface rather than being absorbed. It is considered "one of the finest, most lavishly illuminated and calligraphically significant Qur’an manuscripts from the late Mamluk period". Too fragile to be displayed, it is also missing two leaves that were discovered in Dublin's Chester Beatty Library in the 1970s. So a unified digitized edition is being prepared that will be freely available on the Internet for researchers. The process is being blogged here.
posted by Joe Beese on Jan 24, 2011 - 14 comments

Let the word go forth

To mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration, the JFK Library has unveiled a new digital archive containing 200,000 pages; 300 reels of audio tape, containing more than 1,245 individual recordings of telephone calls, speeches and meetings; 300 museum artifacts; 72 reels of film; and 1,500 photos.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 14, 2011 - 13 comments

Europe, now in convenient digital format

Europeana, a portal that brings together digitized items from scores of museums and libraries from across the continent, has launched its first online exhibition, Art Nouveau. (Click on the object, then "View object in Europeana" for high-res images.) And be sure to check out the massive new exhibition Reading Europe at sister site The European Library.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Oct 4, 2010 - 7 comments

Docs Teach

Docs Teach, a new website from the National Archives, offers teachers access to more than 3,000 digitized documents from NARA's collections, along with classroom activities using them. It's the latest in a series of efforts under the recently appointed Archivist of the United States David Ferriero to enhance the agency's presence on the web. (via) [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Sep 28, 2010 - 5 comments

Here come the Yanks!

American soldiers wounded in the Pacific War recuperate in New Zealand (and check out the women). American Marines mop up in Guadalcanal. US Marine baseball players put on an exhibition game for New Zealanders, to everyone's apparent bemusement. WWII propaganda films made by the New Zealand Film Unit, curated and digitized by Archives New Zealand. [more inside]
posted by Sonny Jim on Apr 12, 2010 - 6 comments

Treasures unburied

Libraries' Surprising Special Collections. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Mar 3, 2009 - 44 comments

Wiring the Castle

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.
posted by Miko on Feb 27, 2009 - 13 comments

Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800

Fire destroyed the office of the War Department and all its files in 1800, and for decades historians believed that the collection, and the window it provided into the workings of the early federal government, was lost forever. Thanks to a decade-long effort to retrieve copies of the files scattered in archives across the country, the collection has been reconstituted and is offered here as a fully-searchable digital database.
posted by Knappster on Jan 13, 2009 - 10 comments

The Genealogical Revolution Will Be Digitized

For decades, the LDS church microfilmed old records of genealogical interest and stashed them in the Granite Mountain Record Vault for safekeeping. Copies could be ordered and viewed at local Family History Centers. Now, through massive digitization and volunteer indexing efforts, those records are starting to come online. [more inside]
posted by Knappster on Jul 27, 2008 - 38 comments

Open Content Alliance Digitizes Library Collections

The Open Content Alliance poses a threat to Google and Microsoft's competing library digitization projects. OCA was founded by the Internet Archive, whose main claim to fame is the Wayback Machine, designed to archive the internet's web history. OCA's mission is to open the nation's library collections to universal web search by digitizing books and making them as widely accessible as possible. [more inside]
posted by richards1052 on Oct 22, 2007 - 9 comments

Because digital pages don't turn yellow.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Library of Congress are putting 30 million newspaper pages online. The National Digital Newspaper Program "will create a national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers from all the states and U.S. territories published between 1836 and 1922." The goal is to have it done in 20 years; the LOC has a sample up now: The Stars and Stripes from 1918-1919.
posted by me3dia on Nov 17, 2004 - 17 comments

World Heritage Digitzation projects

Ben Kacyras is the inventor of the portable Cyrax 3D scanning camera traditionally used by surveyors for quickly creating "surgical exact" 3D models of large structures. Ben has set a goal to scan every World Heritage Site on Earth and make it available online so that if anything were to happen to a site, an exact replica could be re-built. Example Cyrax pictures. More 3D Camera links and other World Heritage Digitization efforts.
posted by stbalbach on Mar 8, 2004 - 5 comments

Digital Collections at the Ewell Sale Stewart Library

Digital Collections at the Ewell Sale Stewart Library: including A Delight for the Eye and the Mind, 'books on molluscs and their shells'; The Remarkable Nature of Edward Lear (Natural History illustrations by the famous 'nonsense poet'); Nature's Great Masterpiece: The Elephant; Foul and Loathsome Creatures (‘Illustrated Herpetological Books’); and Drawn from the Deep (‘The Fish in Science, Art and the Imagination’).
posted by misteraitch on Jun 26, 2003 - 2 comments

Apparently,

Apparently, the digitization of all words ever spoken by human beings would take up 5,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. Or, 5 exabytes. How long will it be before my laptop has that much space?
posted by sandor on Feb 23, 2000 - 3 comments

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