Archivist Rick Prelinger sez, "I'm bringing a new archival 'mixfilm' on Detroit's rich history to the beautifully restored, vintage-1927 Detroit Film Theatre this weekend. This is the fourth of my Detroit compilations, and it's packed with new footage (especially home movies shot by Detroiters themselves) that's never before been publicly screened.
It's a fully participatory show, meaning that viewers (hopefully you) are invited to identify places, people and events, ask questions, and converse with one another as the film unreels. And it's anything but nostalgic -- rather than lamenting what's gone, it aims to contribute to the ongoing, spirited discussion about Detroit's future, and encourage people to talk with one another."
Events: Detroit Film Theatre — The Detroit Institute of Arts Auxiliary
Yesterday, I delivered a keynote address for the 2014 Museums and the Web Conference in Florence, speaking in the audience chamber of the Palazzo Vecchio, which is pretty much the definition of working the big room at the palace. The organizers will be uploading video shortly, but in the meantime, they've been kind enough to post the crib for my talk, which is pretty extensive. The talk was called "GLAM (galleries, museums, archives and libraries) and the Free World":
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The Library of Congress has acquired The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, and has begun to catalog and digitize the materials in it, posting them to the library's website. The scanned materials include Sagan's personal papers, and are divided into three categories:
models of the cosmos throughout history;
history of the possibility of life on other worlds;
Carl Sagan's life and contributions to science and society."
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Gareth Halfacree, who has a long history with both the Bletchley Park trust and the National Museum of Computing Trust, has published a detailed timeline
of the two institutions, showing how they got into the current (and disgraceful) situation
. Halfacree's article includes some very sensible recommendations to both trusts.
Here's some further detail on yesterday's disturbing news about the Bletchley Park trust's management of the museum -- firing volunteers with decades of service with no notice, evicting collections, and doing everything it can to separate the Bletchley Park exhibits from the National Museum of Computing, which is on the Bletchley site and pays a substantial rent to the trust.
Now the trustees of the National Museum of Computing -- which contains a replica of the Colossus II and the Tunny, early computers that played a key role in Bletchley's wartime history -- have written an open letter detailing their grievances against the Bletchley Trust, which appears to be doing everything it can to marginalise and exclude the National Museum and its exhibits.
I'm a donor to Bletchley and the NMOC, and was a member of the Bletchley Friends until recently. The National Museum of Computing is an important facility that complements Bletchley's own exhibits, and without which, Bletchley is much poorer. The Bletchley Trust's repudiation of the people and institutions that kept the site open and operational, saving it from ruin, is a disgrace. Even worse, of course, was the business of surrendering editorial control of its exhibits to corporate sponsors, but there's something especially contemptible about gratuitous cruelty that goes beyond a mere breach of intellectual integrity.
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Here's more bad news from historic computing site Bletchley Park, where a new, slick museum is being put together with enormous corporate and state funding. Last month, it was the fact that McAfee had apparently banned any mention of Edward Snowden in a cybersecurity exhibit.
Now there's this heartrending BBC report on how volunteers who've given decades of service to Bletchley have been summarily dismissed because they don't fit in with the new plan. The museum of Churchill memoribilia that shared the Bletchley site has been evicted.
For people like me who've donated over the years, fundraised for it, and joined the Friends of Bletchley, this is really distressing news. I've always dreamt of Bletchley getting enough funding to do the site and its collection justice, but if it comes at the expense of decency and integrity, they may as well have left it as Churchill did -- abandoned and forgotten.
BBC News Bletchley Park s bitter dispute over its future
Rogue archivist Rick Prelinger writes, "Last year I finished my archival road movie, No More Road Trips? It's a composite road trip made from my archives of over 10,000 home movies, hoping to ask the question: have we come to the end of the open road? You can read about all that online, but I wanted to point to my 'trailer,' which is 798 high-definition images from the film shown at 12 frames per second. I hope it expresses some of my fascination with the American roadscape, especially as it looked during the down-at-the-heels 1930s and optimistic 1950s-1960s."
Bletchley Park's historical exhibit on cybersecurity will not mention Edward Snowden -- possibly the most significant figure in the world of contemporary cybersecurity -- because its corporate sponsor, McAfee, has prohibited them from doing so. A collection of MPs and other government figures have written to Bletchley Park museum to urge them to reconsider. As the Tory MP Dominic Raab says, "Either it's a history exhibition or it's not."
The omission raises disturbing questions about the integrity of Bletchley Park as an independent historical institution, and of the quality of oversight it receives from its board. If the McAfee sponsorship came with the kind of strings attached that prohibited neutral exploration of relevant, even crucial, factual material, it's a sponsorship that never should have been accepted.
I have a letter from the Friends of Bletchley Park on my desk at the office, and I was planning on renewing my membership when I got back from the holidays. This has made me rethink my support of the institution, and now I'm not so sure. I certainly hope that Bletchley reconsiders this decision and upholds its reputation as an institution committed to integrity and education.
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The British Library has uploaded one million public domain scans from 17th-19th century books to Flickr! They're embarking on an ambitious programme to crowdsource novel uses and navigation tools for the huge corpus. Already, the manifest of image descriptions is available through Github. This is a remarkable, public spirited, archival project, and the British Library is to be loudly applauded for it!
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Ricky sez, "Two theme park attraction designers have purchased the Chicago home in which Walt Disney and his brother Roy were born and lived until 1906. They have launched a Kickstarter project to fund the restoration of the house
that was built by Walt's father Elias in the late 1800s to turn it into an historic landmark and high-tech museum.
They are well on their way to their hefty goal of $500,000, aiming to complete the project in 1 year's time." (Thanks, Ricky!
A September report from the Library of Congress's National Film Preservation Board called The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912–1929 [PDF] paints a dismal picture of the archival record of silent movies. In all, "14% of the 10,919 silent films released by major studios exist in their original 35mm or other format," although some of the missing items are extant in lesser transfers and foreign editions. But in all, "we have lost 75% of the creative record from the era that brought American movies to the pinnacle of world cinematic achievement in the 20th century."
It's a sobering reminder of the fragility of even relatively recent media, and the need for preservation. An appreciable slice of the missing archival materials are still in copyright, with attending difficulties in clearing them for the purpose of striking and circulating new prints. As we close in on 2018, the date at which materials from 1928 onward will begin entering the public domain again, this is an important reminder of what can happen if we let the profitability of a tiny slice of commercially viable ancient materials trump the preservation of the vast bulk of cultural materials.
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A British teacher and artist named Guy Tarrant has assembled two cases' worth of toys confiscated from London schoolchildren, soliciting them from fellow teachers. The collection represents items from 150 schools and 30 years, and is on display at the excellent Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. The Childhood Museum is very close to my home, and it's one of my favourite London museums -- I like it better, even, than its enormous parent institution, the V&A down in South Kensington.
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Egor Egorov visited Berlin's Stasi Museum and extensively photographed its collection of spy-gadgets from the Cold War (like the squeeze-bulb-operated jacket-button camera above). They're great photos, and at an impressively high resolution.
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Tom sez, "I have been thinking for some time how it would be nice to produce a 3D printed book of textures and reliefs. To publish and distribute all the wonderful architectural patterning and decoration we enjoy here in Chicago and beyond. This is the prototype for that idea. The subject matter for this book is derived from 3D scans made of sculptures and reliefs, found at The Art Institute of Chicago and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The scans were all produced using a regular DSLR camera and a software package called 123D Catch. By taking multiple digital photographs of a subject, the user is able to create a lifelike 3D scan of an object, person or architectural feature."
Tom's book is available as a free, downloadable shapefile on Thingiverse.
Orihon (Accordion Book)
We just released Boing Boing's first short ebook, Mark Dery's "All The Young Dudes: Why Glam Matters
," and the feedback has been terrific. Mr. Dery was just a guest on New Hampshire Public Radio's "Word of Mouth" show talking about this subculture that served as a glitter bomb of fashion and attitude and briefly relieved the malaise of the '70s. You can hear the interview here
, read a free excerpt
to whet your whistle, or take the plunge and buy the ebook
for just $2.99 from Amazon.