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Images: Capture and Collection

February 25, 2011

First morning session: “Images: Capture and Collection.” On to the session notes!

What is everyone doing with all these cheap cameras?
Daniel Reetz (DIY Book Scanner)

Created own book scanner and shared instructions online: diybookscanner.org. Lots of people are using these scanners for great projects all over the world. Cheap cameras can change the world, can liberate information and help others share information with others.

Cheap cameras are very cheap. Cheaper a camera is, the harder it is to control. Cameras define the our aesthetics. Photographs have become the basis of our memories. Aging of photographs as aging of memory.

Cheap cameras are everywhere. The most common camera in the world is in your computer mouse. Color in digital images is calibrated to what is most liked by people, not by math. It is what sells that defines the color settings in the camera. People like saturated photos and sharper images. (Interesting and scary at the same time) Lots of processing done within the camera before you ever get the image into Photoshop.

We can’t trust photos like we might like (this is not a new idea). “Consumer preference undermines control.” Technology is affected by desire and fantasy. People don’t want to show reality–they want to show idealized world.

Need to construct tool that help us determine how reliable the images are that we have in the archives. Lots of potential for use of cheap cameras and digital photos. Need to show people how to do more with their cameras.

The Center for Home Movies Digitization and Access Summit
Dwight Swanson (Center for Home Movies)

Talking about Summit at Library of Congress Packard Campus in September of 2010 (46 attendees). Problem addressing: limitations on access to home movies have resulted in limitations to our understanding and use of them. Want a way to easily find home movies online and way to upload/access home movies online.

Where are home movies online now?
YouTube, Internet Archive, Regional film archives, and film transfer companies. Center for Home Movies have an arrangement with Internet Archive for their home movies. Regional film archives have historically been the most active in collecting and providing access to home movies, but have been restricted by budget.

Challenges
What would we need to do and spend in order to implement a mass digitization and web portal project involving home movies and video from both public and private collections–getting them online for free public access?
What impact would the availability of these collections have on their use and analyses?

Summit Topics (can go here to download final report)

  1. Taxonomy of home movies. LoC wanted a taxonomy: definitions, genres and tropes
  2. Cataloging and description: metadata structures and management as well as crowdsourced tagging. Coming up with list of terms and fields needed to be included when describing home movies
  3. Legal issues: documents created for terms of use, privacy, takedown policies and had discussion of rights issues of orphan films
  4. Technical issues: comparison of film digitization systems, recommended technical standards, different workflow scenarios
  5. Use and users: scholarly users (why do home movies matter?) and commercial users (who are the people using home movies and what are they looking for?)
  6. The Film Collectors’ Community: perceptions of value of home movies due to companies such as eBay and engagement with collectors

Lingering questions from the Summit:
Who would be the primary users of a home movie portal?
What could it do that YouTube and the Internet Archive Can’t already do?
What types of media do we want to deal with?
What is the relationship between preservation and access?
What form should the project take?

Archiving Space: Capturing personal and shared spaces with explorable gigapixel imager
Rich Gibson (Gigapan Project)

“The world is the set where we live our lives.”

Gigapan allows users to upload photos and pan/zoom throughout the panoramic images. Software stitches the images together.

Spaces are changed and images allow us to see these changes. Many programs allow us to explore these changes and spaces online.

“Explorable gigapixel images change the way we see.” (I think that photographs in general change the way we see. Taking photographs definitely change the way we see, the way we compose our lives, and the way we constrain our world through the viewfinder.)

Gigapixel allows for different ways of curating art exhibits and displaying art. It can also be seen as a way of “archiving” transient, ephemera activities and exhibits.

(You should check out the website–lots of very cool images to explore. I could see spending a lot of time on the site.)

Take away: Images are important to our memories, our lives, and our identities. We need to think critically about how we interact with these visual images and the people that care about the images. We should also empower people to capture images and to think critically about their own visual record of their lives. (I love photography so this was a very interesting talk to me, personally. Also, if you want a wonderful book that will have you thinking about many of the issues brought up in this session in greater depth, check out Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others.)

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