Thursday, 23 August 2007

Amateur Digitisation of Ephemera

There are many things that I love about the Internet - and one of them is amateur digitisation projects which capture ephemera about modern/recent life for posterity. There has been much talk about web 2.0 and user generated content, but that seems to focus on the pictures-of-folks-on-holiday or vidoes-of-stuff-which-is-newsworthy angle: not on the good folks of the interverse who spend much time finding, cataloguing, digitising, and mounting collections of things online which no institution would have the time, or facilities, or foresight, or interest to go near. (Sure, there are some major and important ephemera digitisation projects out there, such as Electronic Ephemera at Oxford, but that revolves around the digitisation of a collection of objects which age from 1508 to 1939). I adore that people find the time to build shrines to long-defunct comics, such as Misty (although they recently had to take down the complete digitised archive due to copyright issues). Folks that make random collections of things like pictures of a monster or robot carrying off a fainted heroine in his arms (In my arms) - the digital equivalent of a cabinet of curiosities. Museums which would just not get funded in the real world, for whatever reason- such as the Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health: an important, if ramshackle, and often hilarious archive of the development of sanitary products and their advertising. Collections of the real ephemera of life - things found on the ground - passive aggressive notes left for others - random stuff found in junkshops. Its all a hidden, different world and approach than that taken to digitisation within the information profession, but no less important for its lack of institutional backing.

Todays find also demonstrates Fun With Internet Technologies. I have been aware of the Evening Standard Headline Crisis collection of images, depicting gloomy headlines from one of the UK's most... melodramatic? newspapers (and how fleeting are those headlines?), but now comes the mashup: the Evening Standard Headline Generator. Genius.

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