Tuesday 29 January 2008

Is it just me?

Has anyone else noticed the trend for people to talk about "Digitalisation" rather than "Digitisation"? Over the past year, student essays, newspaper reports, and various websites have started using "Digitalisation" to mean the process of creating digital representation of analogue objects and media. Now, I know language shifts and changes, and to some extent, "Digitalisation" makes kinda sense - you are making something digital, right? And there is the whole digitisation/digitization argument, but lets not get into that. Instead, lets have a look at some definitions:

Digitisation: The process of creating digital files by scanning or otherwise converting analogue materials.The resulting digital copy, or digital surrogate, would then be classed as digital material and then subject to the same broad challenges involved in preserving access to it, as "born digital" materials. (From the Digital Preservation Coalition website).

Digitalisation: The administration of digitalis or one of its active constituents to a patient or an animal so that the required physiological changes occur in the body; also, the state of the body resulting from this. (From the Oxford English Dictionary).

So now you know. Spell carefully, my friends....

ps. Yes I know in the early 1960s digitalisation was also used to mean digitisation. But it settled down pretty quickly into digitisation.

pps. Yes, I know policing the interweb for spelling mistakes is a pointless task. I was only pointing out an observation...

Thursday 24 January 2008

Your Pics and the Beeb

Something that's been intriguing me for a while is the encouragement from traditional news outlets, such as the BBC, CNN, ITV, etc for the general public to submit pictures of newsworthy items to them, via mobile phone or email.

News agencies actively solicit user generated content. You can find out how to submit your prize winning photo journalism, or just-happened-to-be-there shots, to the BBC, here. The short version is, email them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk, although beware, by submitting them you grant the BBC:
a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to publish and otherwise use the material in any way that we want.
There are other ways to make money of Britney Spears shaving her head, should that be your want, if you find the stalking of innocent celebrities acceptable. But lets suppose that you just want to submit them to the BBC for all to see for free.

How popular is this service?

I wondered. So I asked the BBC (well, filed a Freedom of Information enquiry to their FOI office), and it goes something like this.

They dont keep stats on individual submitters, in case of data protection issues. But in general, on routine days, between 100 and 150 users will email or message in 150 to 250 images from around the globe. On days when something UK-wide happens, such as the snow flurries which covered the country on the 8th February 2007, thousands of users can contribute: in this case, the BBC received 7316 images in 24 hours.

Other peaks in contributions came with the summer floods, the Glasgow Airport terrorist attack, etc. They keep a decent archive of the yourpics contributions that are used.

(The BBC had previously reported submission of over 1000 images and 20 videos from the July 7th 2005 bombs in London, and 6500 images of the fire at the Buncefield Oil Depot, in December 2005, which was one of the largest fires in Europe since the Second World War.)

There, dont say I dont tell you anything.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

The Library of the Future Will Be

Originally uploaded by National Library of New Zealand
Sometimes, when marking essays, you come across things noted by students that have completely passed you by (but shhhh, dont tell them that). An essay on the paperless office points me to a campaign run by the National Library of New Zealand at LIANZA Conference 2007: TRANZFORM - Te Tīnihanga (9-12 September) where they placed catalogue cardswhich said "In 2017 libraries will be...." in conference packs, and asked for responses from attendees. An interesting flickr set to explore. [link]

Thursday 17 January 2008

Flickr's commons

Flickr have just announced a project called The Commons, which they describe as

Your opportunity to contribute to describing the world's public photo collections

A pilot project with the Library of Congress,

The key goals of this pilot project are to firstly give you a taste of the hidden treasures in the huge Library of Congress collection, and secondly to how your input of a tag or two can make the collection even richer.

You're invited to help describe photographs in the Library of Congress' collection on Flickr, by adding tags or leaving comments

There are already some interesting collections up there, like News in the 1910s and 1930s-40s in Color.

It will be interesting to see the range of tags and comments people take the time to put forward (but I'm not sure that comments like "neat train picture :)" are doing much for our understanding of LOC image collections!)

A few years on but...

I'm writing a book chapter just now about personal digital image collections, and the rapidly changing (changed?) imaging environment we now utilise. I was reminded of this article by Tom Ang (a photographer and presenter who writes some very accessible introductory books to digital imaging) which featured in the guardian a couple of years ago, but still packs a punch.
In 1998, 67bn images were made worldwide. We know that because 3bn rolls of film were sold. It is impossible to be accurate, but with a world population of digital cameras exceeding a third of a billion on top of millions of film-using cameras still in use, it is likely that more pictures are taken every year than in the previous 160 years of photography put together. In addition to the other pollutions we have unleashed on ourselves, we may well have to thank digital photography for giving us image pollution.

Archaeological Anomalies

You have to love Worth1000.com (which is a daily image manipulation contest site)'s galleries. This one, "archaeological anomalies" sets out to provide the missing links between man and beast.... and the moon..... and disney... and apple...

Tuesday 15 January 2008

Random Digital Ephemera Fun

... today, is courtesy of a flickr group which collects 1960s polaroid pictures of signs in Washington. Beautiful.

Thursday 10 January 2008

On the Radio

So, today I am off to the BBC to be interviewed (live! gulp) about my work with the Vindolanda Texts, along with Prof. Alan Bowman from the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, University of Oxford. We'll be on "The Material World" on BBC Radio 4 at 4.30-5pm.

Of course, it had to be on a day when I am sneezing like a banshee, but I hope I can see through the lempsip fog to speak intelligently for 15 mins or so!

If you miss the program, fear not: you can listen again for a week or so, online.

update: it went well, I think, although I fear that live radio is not for me on a regular basis!

Friday 4 January 2008

Happy New Year - out with the old, etc.

2007 saw technology march on apace. At this time of year, there are various retrospectives flying about, giving overviews of what has happened. Try the Indepedent's "The Year in Review: Technology", Technology Review's "The Year in software", Computing.co.uk's review of the most important issues in e-commerce, News.com's "year in review, picturing tech", Computerandvideo games.com's "PC Games of 2007" (other platforms are available) , ReadWriteWeb.com's "Internet TV, the year in Review", and randomly, the "Five Coolest Hacks in 2007" (courtesy of Dark Reading, via John Naughton).

Which is always tempered with crystal gazing ahoy. How will technology change our future over the next decade? Try the BBC's "Technologies on the rise in 2008" , the BBC's commentator Bill Thompson on "Cloudy visions of the future" , the Sydney Morning Herald's "Ten things that will change your future", and the Guardian's "Facebook is so last year - welcome to the hit websites of 2008".

There, that should keep you from doing some real work for a while.