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Digital obsolescence is more deadly than degrading film stock ever was.

Film preservation 2.0 Unless the unique challenges of digital preservation are met, we run the risk of a future in which a film from 1894 printed on card stock has a better chance of surviving than a digital film from 2014.
posted by mediareport on Mar 2, 2014 - 109 comments

When Artworks Crash

In 1994, Douglas Davis [personal blog] created The World's First Collaborative Sentence. Last summer, The Whitney Museum faced a new challenge: what happens to digital art when the technology becomes obsolete? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 19, 2014 - 31 comments

The whale that inspired Greenpeace

The whale that inspired Greenpeace The organization that would become Greenpeace started off as an advocate for peace and as an anti-nuclear group. It expanded its activities into fighting whaling and had a major influence on the virtual cessation of the commercial fishing of whales which made Greenpeace a household name. That change in direction can be traced to a single whale. Allow me to introduce to you, Skana.
posted by 2manyusernames on Sep 22, 2013 - 3 comments

Vietnam's Infinite Cave Tourism

World's Largest Cave, Son Doong, Prepping For First Public Tours (previously)
posted by kliuless on Sep 12, 2013 - 14 comments

Cortex considers this list worthless without Rogue

Professor Matthew Kirschenbaum, as part of his larger interest in the problem of software preservation, asks the provocative question What are the 10 most influential software programs of all time?
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jul 30, 2013 - 93 comments

"Do we need to produce billions of new garments a year?"

Should You Feel Guilty About Wearing Vintage Fur? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 12, 2013 - 121 comments

Time keeps on slipping slipping slipping

The National Trust for Historic Preservation's 2013 most endangered historic places.
posted by vrakatar on Jun 20, 2013 - 34 comments

"aboriginal landscapes of fabulous hybrid creatures"

Marguerite Humeau is an artist who has made reconstructions of extinct creatures' vocal tracts, extrapolating from extant species and fossil remains. The Extinction Orchestra. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 12, 2013 - 5 comments

Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema

2013 Jefferson Lecture with Martin Scorsese (text) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 9, 2013 - 3 comments

The Roadmap to Saving the Sounds of America, Though the Road is Bumpy

The National Recording Preservation Board was mandated by the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, but it didn't have a preservation plan in place to address saving everything from the oldest tin foil recordings (prev) to recent "born digital" creations. That changed with the National Recording Preservation Plan (full 89 page PDF). Except, "the recording preservation provisions under current law are so restrictive you literally can't make — legally — a digital copy of an older analog recording without permissions which are very hard to get" (NPR). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 15, 2013 - 8 comments

Golden Gate Park Windmills

At the western edge of Golden Gate Park sit two Windmills, claimed to be among the largest in the world. Built over 100 years ago to irrigate the park, they were eventually made functionally obsolete by electric water pumps and were allowed to fall into a state of neglect. The North (Dutch) Windmill was given a face-lift in 1980, and more recently The South (Murphy) windmill has been completely restored. For the first time in decades both windmills started spinning, appropriately enough, on Queen's Day earlier this year. The entire reconstruction process of the South Windmill is documented in this extensive photo gallery.
posted by MattMangels on Dec 3, 2012 - 11 comments

Let There Be Light

"A post-World War II documentary, banned by the military in 1946 but lately released online, is one of the earliest depictions of psychotherapy." Let There Be Light, a film by John Huston. [more inside]
posted by bluefly on Aug 20, 2012 - 9 comments

19th Century Prostitution

A Guide to Houses No Gentleman Would Frequent, and more artifacts of history and archaeology that shed some light on the largely-unwritten world of nineteenth-century prostitution in Boston, New York, Washington, DC, and Paris, among other locales. Lest it appear too amusingly salacious, the miserable side.
posted by Miko on Aug 13, 2012 - 5 comments

(Part of) The World according to Aaslestad

"Peter Aaslestad is both a free-lance photographer and an internationally recognized historic preservation consultant specializing in the use of architectural photogrammetry to document existing buildings." [more inside]
posted by Namlit on Aug 12, 2012 - 4 comments

Wonders Of The World (Wide Web)

The Google Cultural Institute is the portal for an effort to digitally preserve and present vital historical information using the latest web technologies. Highlights include the World Wonders Project, a geographical tour of UNESCO Heritage sites; Google Art Project (previously), curating 50,000 years of human cultural expression; the Palace of Versailles in 3D and a digital archive of the Dead Sea Scrolls (previously)
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Jul 27, 2012 - 0 comments

"Fenway is the essence of baseball"

Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. So wrote John Updike in his moving tribute to Red Sox legend Ted Williams -- an appropriately pedigreed account for this oldest and most fabled of ballfields that saw its first major league game played one century ago today. As a team in flux hopes to recapture the magic with an old-school face-off against the New York Highlanders Yankees, it's hard to imagine the soul of the Sox faced the specter of demolition not too long ago. Now legally preserved, in a sport crowded with corporate-branded superdome behemoths, Fenway abides, bursting with history, idiosyncrasy, record crowds, and occasional song. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Apr 20, 2012 - 48 comments

"The future for digital storage is constant migration."

"Most of the filmmakers surveyed...were not aware of the perishable nature of digital content or how short its unmanaged lifespan is." After the Motion Picture Academy's release last month of "The Digital Dilemma 2," a warning aimed at independent filmmakers and nonprofit archives, cinematographer John Bailey talks with one of the report's authors about the perils of data migration ("It’s not unreasonable to say that the term "digital preservation" is an oxymoron") and the need to educate filmmakers who are so "enamored with the perceived benefits of digital image capture and workflow" that they fail to realize preservation concerns start to appear almost immediately after their work is completed. Film professor David Bordwell covers the report in a detailed post about preserving "born-digital" films, sixth in his "Pandora's Digital Box" series about the worldwide conversion to digital projection, with lots of good links at the bottom.
posted by mediareport on Feb 20, 2012 - 87 comments

Alan Lomax's Global Jukebox

A decade after the death of renowned folklorist Alan Lomax, his vision of a "global jukebox" is being realized: his vast archive — some 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs and piles of manuscripts, much of it tucked away in forgotten or inaccessible corners — is being digitized so that the collection can be accessed online. About 17,000 music tracks will be available for free streaming by the end of February. NYT article here.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jan 30, 2012 - 39 comments

And we know that everything falls to dust...

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]
posted by bubukaba on Sep 28, 2011 - 36 comments

The world of perfect video game emulation

Accuracy takes power: one man's 3GHz quest to build a perfect SNES emulator. The author of the SNES emulator bsnes talks about the difficulties in creating emulators that accurately simulate classic game consoles, and why it will take lifetimes to generate enough computer power to perfectly recreate the most modern consoles.
posted by The Devil Tesla on Aug 9, 2011 - 52 comments

Gone, like crumbling memories, 'only' a building, yet a concrete symbol for fading hopes, dreams, memories and possibilities locked inside

Hand Crafted Films, DOCOMOMO Louisiana and the Tulane School of Architecture present: A Plea For Modernism from Evan Mather (U.S.A., 2011, 11:59 [alternate YouTube link]).
The Phillis Wheatley Elementary School served the historic New Orleans African-American neighborhood of Tremé since it opened in 1955. Celebrated worldwide for its innovative, regionally-expressive modern design – the structure had sustained moderate damage during the storms and levee breach of 2005. DOCOMOMO Louisiana (autoplaying video) advocated for its restoration via adaptive reuse (For the Roots of Music)A Plea For Modernism is narrated by actor Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”, “Treme”). [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Jun 19, 2011 - 6 comments

Medicine in the Americas

Medicine in the Americas is a digital library project that makes freely available original works demonstrating the evolution of American medicine from colonial frontier outposts of the 17th century to research hospitals of the 20th century. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on May 31, 2011 - 9 comments

The Game Preservation Crisis

Trash cans, landfills, and incinerators. Erasure, deletion, and obsolescence. These words could describe what has happened to the various building blocks of the video game industry in countries around the world. These building blocks consist of video game source code, the actual computer hardware used to create a particular video game, level layout diagrams, character designs, production documents, marketing material, and more.

These are just some elements of game creation that are gone -- never to be seen again. These elements make up the home console, handheld, PC and arcade games we've played. The only remnant of a particular game may be its name, or its final published version, since the possibility exists that no other physical copy of its creation remains.

As a community of video game developers, publishers, and players, we must begin asking ourselves some difficult but inevitable questions. Some believe there is no point in preserving a video game, arguing that games are short-term entertainment, while others disagree with this statement entirely, believing the industry is in a preservation crisis.

Where Games Go To Sleep: The Game Preservation Crisis [more inside]
posted by timshel on Feb 9, 2011 - 44 comments

Ancestors we will never know, presage feelings we can never have; now go forth and time travel on the web

This topic is best summarized with a question; what would it be worth to you to have a video of your great-grandparents? How might your children or grandchildren appreciate your efforts at personal archiving? [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Dec 24, 2010 - 21 comments

"Adopt a [Wax] Cylinder" for you and yours!

A great gift for the archivist and/or audiophile in your life! Just in time for the holidays, donate NOW only $60 to preserve for posterity the controversial, the scandalous, the quixotic, the Springsteen-ian, the timeless classics, plus many, many more wax cylinder recordings from UCSB's Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project. [more inside]
posted by unknowncommand on Dec 1, 2010 - 8 comments

An Artificial Ovary

Using a 3-D petri dish, Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island have built a completely functional artificial human ovary that will allow doctors to harvest immature human egg cells (oocytes) and grow them into mature, ready-to-be-fertilized human eggs outside the body. (In vitro) The advance could eventually help preserve fertility for women facing chemotherapy or other medical treatments that may be destructive to ovarian folliculogenesis. Press Release. Article link. (paywall) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 29, 2010 - 24 comments

75 Lost Silent Films Returning to US

A trove of 75 early American silent films have been found in a film archive in New Zealand and are being returned to the US. The Films are on old nitrate film stock, which in addition to being highly flammable (prompting those involved to ship them in steel barrels), is also prone to decay. The Films are being portioned out between 5 different restoration labs for transfer to modern film. Now if we could only get Robert Mugabe to play ball with the lost Doctor Who episodes. [more inside]
posted by syntaxbad on Jun 7, 2010 - 13 comments

Slow Down 50%

In a time when people can carry computers in their pockets and watch TV while walking down the street, Typeface dares to explore the twilight of an analog craft that is freshly inspiring artists in a digital age. The Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, WI personifies cultural preservation, rural re-birth and the lineage of American graphic design. At Hamilton, international artisans meet retired craftsmen and together navigate the convergence of modern design and traditional technique. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Jun 6, 2010 - 7 comments

Powerful Places

A mining town in Kentucky hoping to build a different kind of future. One of the last three Negro League stadiums. A 34-acre ranch owned and run one of California's earliest entreprenuers and rare early female landowners. The "cathedral of African Methodism" which saw the funerals of Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks. Otherwordly sand dunes in Michigan, mysterious freshwater caves in Guam, the Wilderness Battlefield...and the Merritt Parkway. These and more sites are on the (US) NAtional Trust's 2010 roster of the 11 Most Endangered Places.
posted by Miko on May 19, 2010 - 14 comments

"The most intact, the largest, and the most ambitious tiki bar ever created in San Francisco."

Save The Tonga Room. The beloved Tonga Room in San Francisco, long threatened with extinction, may soon be a City historical resource, giving it a fighting chance at preservation.
posted by xowie on May 5, 2010 - 21 comments

Back to the future of food

Canning makes a comeback. Is it just another foodie trend? Or is canning back for good? [more inside]
posted by sararah on Jun 30, 2009 - 106 comments

Danvers

A website has been launched to preserve the history of Danvers State Insane Asylum. The Asylum, which opened in 1878 in Danvers, MA (site of the Salem Witch Trials) and closed in 1992, was featured in the horror movie Session 9, and may have been the inspiration for HP Lovecraft's Arkham Asylum. Its Kirkbride Wings, which once held the institution's living quarters, now house a 400+ unit apartment complex. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 30, 2009 - 35 comments

Your Voice for Wildlife and Nature

OdyseeTV explores the pressures faced by wildlife and habitat. Featuring video content like the Plight of the Snow Leopard, or a feature about manatees, Can Gentle Survive?, by conservation organizations worldwide. Limited at present to about 30 programs, but growing as more groups come on board.
posted by netbros on Apr 30, 2009 - 2 comments

"This Place Matters"

National Trust Releases 2009 List of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple. Additional detail and sites from past years here.
posted by Miko on Apr 28, 2009 - 18 comments

The Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum

The mission of The Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum is to preserve the history of the cultural contributions of Burt Reynolds. (previously) [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Feb 1, 2009 - 26 comments

Animal Specimens.

Animals In Formalin Preservation. That is all.
posted by gman on Dec 24, 2008 - 15 comments

Coming Soon: A pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot

The [US] National Trust for Historic Preservation has released its 21st annual list of the nation's Most Endangered Historic Places. Among them: Sumner Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas, (where Linda Brown tried to register for school, resulting in Brown vs. Board of Education); New York City's Lower East Side; California's State Parks; Philadelphia's Boyd Theatre, and several others. The previous 20 years of Most Endangered Historic Places can be found in the Archive. [more inside]
posted by Miko on May 20, 2008 - 16 comments

Fade to black

"One Paramount veteran compared the studio's vault to a teenager's chaotic bedroom. In fact, a visitor accidentally stepped on the negative of "Rosemary's Baby," which was unspooled on the floor." [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Dec 2, 2007 - 51 comments

Smile, Mahtha

Northeast Historic Film is the best of quirky Maine. They archive home movies, collect postcards of New England movie houses, and study depictions of New England in major films. Browsing the list of collections is tantalizing; if only some of these were available as clips or on YouTube. They're one of many archives preserving home movies. Also.
posted by Miko on Oct 23, 2007 - 9 comments

Swine Before Pearls

On ham, with a fascinating (well, unless you're kosher) history of colonial curing methods.
posted by digaman on Oct 19, 2007 - 46 comments

Lost New York City

Randall's Lost New York City Collection "documents the destruction of many of New York City's 19th century tenement and other buildings, so that we can mourn the lost [and] appreciate the endangered." Gallery 1, 2. [more inside]
posted by dersins on Sep 20, 2007 - 31 comments

A Monumental Achievement

"The “Monuments Men” [wiki] were a group of ... men and women from thirteen nations who comprised the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section during World War II....Together they worked to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. ...They tracked, located, and ultimately returned more than 5 million artistic and cultural items stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. Their role in preserving cultural treasures was without precedent. "
posted by dersins on Sep 19, 2007 - 6 comments

Get your housing for nothing and your sweat for free

Want to live for free (sort of) in a historic home? Maryland, Delaware, and Massachusetts all have resident curatorship programs, in which you can live rent-free in a historic home, provided you spend your own time and money renovating it. Contact your state's historic preservation office to see if there's a program like this near you...
posted by dersins on Sep 6, 2007 - 14 comments

Architectural Terra-cotta

Terra-cotta (Italian for "earth-cooked") was once a versatile material for architecture ornamentation. (A short video about the process) [QuickTime] It was generally used to supplement brick and tiles of similar colour in late Victorian buildings. The Natural History Museum in London has been called architect Albert Waterhouse's Terracotta Menagerie. (Take the Terracotta Tour.) Examples of architectural terracotta in America: Buffalo, NY, St. Louis, MO, Washington State, and many, many buildings in NYC (including 200 Gargoyles and Chimera salvaged from lost buildings). Just when you thought the past might be vanishing a little too quickly, terra cotta is coming back in new ways. See also: Understanding and Concerving Terracotta and The Preservation of Historic Glazed Architectural Terra-Cotta.
posted by spock on May 31, 2007 - 8 comments

The Little Fireboat That Could

New York City's oldest fireboat rides again. Built in 1931, the John J. Harvey served for decades, then was retired by the city in 1994. Local boat-lovers rescued it from the scrap-yard and restored it to new glory. Good thing, because the ancient JJH wound up being called back into service one last time, to save New Yorkers during their darkest hour...

The city has showed its gratitude with grant money, and the JJH's story has now become an award-winning children's book praised as a healthy way to discuss the events of September 11th with kids. Come to Pier 63 for a visit or a free ride sometime this summer!
posted by hermitosis on Jun 9, 2006 - 13 comments

It's not too late!

Save the 76 Ball. "ConocoPhillips is removing the iconic 76 Balls and replacing them with boring rectangular signs that aren't even orange!" Related story in the Los Angeles Times. Will you help rescue the balls from their sad fate?
posted by Lillitatiana on May 17, 2006 - 39 comments

Digital Funnies: Comics Preservation by Jonathan Barli

Digital Funnies: Comics Preservation by Jonathan Barli. Welcome to Digital Funnies, dedicated to preserving the history of this most neglected of art forms and reintroducing it to scholars and new readers alike. While several well-known titles such as Krazy Kat, Gasoline Alley, and Peanuts are being given their proper due in published form, there is still much of the rich history of comics and cartooning that will more than likely never see print again and worse, fade away with time. [Via Drawn!. And involved in this project is our very own Adam Kempa.]
posted by soundofsuburbia on Mar 23, 2006 - 9 comments

Protect domain names for the Children!

"Each day, tens of thousands of our precious domain names are bought by greedy corporations and squandered for non-sustainable commercial development." But the Domain Name Preservation Society wants to help. Donate your names after you no longer need them, and they will retire protected within the sanctuary. Otherwise, what domains will our children be left with if we do not protect the endangered domain names of today?
posted by TwelveTwo on Jan 19, 2006 - 32 comments

2 Columbus Circle 'Shame Cam'

Shame Cam - 2 Columbus Circle.
posted by xowie on Nov 16, 2005 - 47 comments

Save Yerkes!

The Yerkes Observatory owned and operated by the University of Chicago, and home to the world's largest refracting telescope, is in danger of being sold to a real estate developer. Find out what is being done to save this national treasure and how you can help.
posted by achmorrison on Sep 14, 2005 - 9 comments

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