Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Digital Preservation too $$$$

Those who are creating plans for preserving their digital assets should read Jonas Palm’s The Digital Black Hole Jonas is the head of the Department of Preservation for Sweden’s National Archives where they have already done considerable conversion to digital. Interestingly, the breaking point of cost, as he describes it, is the human factor - salaries -required in monitoring digital storage. From the sense of preserving one’s investment in digitizing it does seem that the preservation cost far exceed replacement costs. Especially as, replacing a corrupted digital file in five years will probably cost less and result in a better image due to technological advances. It may very well be more cost effective to rescan the objects as or if their digital image files become unusable. Of course, that assumes that the object still exists.

So if we accept the fragility of the actual artifact and fragility of the digital image of it, how do we preserve the visual information of the object? Jonas is suggesting… drum roll please…microfilm. But then, we know that does last forever either and also costs to maintain, but even so maybe the system that we have now is better for now?
Of course, there are still the digital born material and Jonas allows as how audio-video material may be cost effective…..
what is one to do? Any ideas?


For the past several Years the Library of Congress has been busily digitizing its collection. a prime example of this effort is its American Memory project. Now they have moved on to the whole world. It will be called, fittingly, World Digital Library, which it will do in conjunction with Unesco modeled on its Memory project. The World Digital Library started two years ago with a $3 million grant from Google and technical assistance by Apple. Initially, five other libraries contributed material for the prototype, including the national libraries of Egypt, Brazil and Russia.
They are now wooing the other national collections as well as corporations to join in signing an agreement with Unesco to continue their effort. Towards this end they have developed a prototype to show what will be possible. It is searchable in seven languages, with video commentaries from curators alongside material that includes original maps, manuscripts, photographs and recordings. their goal is for the material to be accessible from personal computers, hand-held devices and some of the rugged, inexpensive laptops that are being developed for emerging markets. Look for its public debut next year.

Now your new HP Pavilion HDX can process as if it was 1994


Now your new HP Pavilion HDX can process as if it was 1994

One digital preservation solution goal has always been emulation of the old hardware or programs. Now some clever guys in the Netherlands, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek - national library of the Netherlands and the Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands to be exact, may have reached that goal. They have developed a software emulator that they are releasing to anyone. It is called Dioscuri version 0.2.0 and is now available “as open source software for any institution or individual that would like to experience their old digital documents again,” at

Discouri can emulate an Intel 8086-based platform, including supporting the hardware to match, such as screen and storage devices - a floppy drive anyone? That means old files, if you still have the original software, which ran on 16-bit OS like MS-DOS, can now be read and the information retrieved. You just cut and paste through their clipboard to you current technology.
Its tricks includes creating a ‘virtual machine,” which is thus independent of the hardware on which you have loaded the software. The guys in the Netherlands have run it on Windows, Apple and Sun computers. The other sweet part is a component-based architecture. Each component imitates the functionality of a particular hardware component, thus you can make your own “virtual machine” through a user friendly GUI.
Thus you get a flexible and portable solution.

If you want to hear more, you may want to register for the Dioscuri news mailinglist:

Content recognition developers – what are you doing?


At the Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) annual conference Aug. 5-9 in San Diego, some fellows from Carnegie Mellon demonstrated their “Photoswap” technique. Now a guy from Microsoft research Cambridge was also involved so this is not just an academic exercise. Just in case you are not familiar with the term “content recognition”, it is the goal of some information techies to remove images from the need to have text metadata to be discoverable. The idea was to develop algorithm, which would enable a computer to find a sunset or terrorist if you were working on specifically facial recognition. These guys at Carnegie saw a practical application, well sort of. They developed an algorithm to help people edit their home photos. I don’t mean removing redeye. I mean removing that telephone pole, car etc. I know some Architects, who would love this tool. The idea is that you delete (erase) the offending object. The tool then searches through an image archive and finds several images, which would fit in the “hole” you have made in your photo. You can then plop it in. They call this “Scene Completion. ” Graduate student James Hays at Carnegie Mellon, developed it. Where do they find such an archive you ask? Why on the net. “It draws on millions of photos from Flickr to fill in holes in photos resulting from damage to a photograph or an editor’s cuts.” See Carnegie Mellon press release for the full story.
Note the archive location - Flickr? So, I guess that when you make your images public, you are giving away your rights to them? Another system, which they have named Photo Clip Art, uses a website called LabelMe from which to harvest images as clip art in photos. See, people on this site nicely label their images, so they can find sailboats, children or whatever you might want to add to your scene. There is no mention in any of the three articles that I read on this tool, including the one on the Carnegie Mellon site, about rights. Interesting uh? Now if they were simply testing out the tool, using the Net as a source, that would be fine, but that is not how they presented the tools’ use. Of course, you are only using a part of someone else’s photo, like cutting up a magazine.

Carnegie Mellon graduate students Jean-Fran├žois Lalonde and Derek Hoiem developed photo Clip Art with Carsten Rother, John Winn and Antonio Criminisi of Microsoft Research Cambridge.

Money, money, money – August 28, 2007

August 29th, 2007 relocated

More foundations join the Melon Fund in support of the Digital revolution. HASTAC and MacArthur Foundation are offering $2 million to improve Digital Media in learning; Moore foundation has given Fedora Commons $4.9 million to develop open-source software system that provides the basic infrastructure for on-line communities of scholars and the NEH is soliciting proposals to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

HASTAC and MacArthur Foundation are holding a competition - DIGITAL MEDIA AND LEARNING COMPETITION to decide on who will receive their monies, the deadline for which is October 15, 2007. A common thread here, learning. The Moore foundation has awarded Fedora Commons its grant. Fedora Commons grew out of a collaboration effort between Cornell and University of Virginia. With this support, they will continue to develop their open source software platform, which “enables collaborative models of information creation and sharing, and provides sustainable repositories to secure the digital materials that constitute our intellectual, scientific, and cultural history.” Part of the grant is also to be used to grow and diversify the members of the Commons.

For those with newspaper archives, the NEH is soliciting proposals, which are due November 1, 2007, to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). The current awards are up to $400,000. They are giving themselves 20 years to create “a national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers from all the states and U.S. territories published between 1836 and 1922.” The Library of Congress will manage the resource. So, if you have such an archive and want assistance in digitizing it, this could be provide the help you need. By the way, they are especially interested in those papers already migrated to microfilm. The grant is for a two-year period, which also shows their wisdom.

Gert's Musings

DIG Updates
September 1, 2007
Last Issue!
We are moving on to new technology – the blog and RSS. That way, we can help you stay even more up to date on the latest happenings in the Digital Imaging world. Much as the column Gert Says on is a slightly irreverent dialogue on the world of digital imaging, her Musings in the blog form should prove equally insightful and interesting. They may even prove amusing
I encourage you to stay current by selecting the RSS feed to Gert’s Musings to post in your Yahoo or Google homepage, so that you will always be in the know. The link to the RSS feed is at the bottom of the first page on the Blog.
Hope to see all the DigUpdate readers online at the new Blog, Gert’s Musing, to read all the Digital Imaging News Heard in the Alley and on the Line. Now you can talk back, too.