Saturday, November 7, 2009

Digital - both today and tomorrow?

Establishing internet access for digitalized texts, photo, audio and video has been both the dream and nightmare of cultural institutions in recent years. Institutions in theory support the idea of universal access to archival material, but at the same time want to hinder misuse of that material. Plus, someone has to scan or convert the originals into appropriate formats for web-dissemination, as well as create interfaces that users can easily search and download from. The changeable nature of the web itself is something that many believe should be documented for the future.

Project Gutenberg was founded in 1971 with the aim of making all public domain literature digitally available to the greater public, Today, the Project Gutenberg web catalog contains more than 30,000 works whose copyright has expired.

The Internet Archive in San Francisco was one of the early promoters of web archives, as well as of archiving the web. Since 1996, The Internet Archive has made various texts, audio, moving images, software and archived web pages available on its server, in collaboration with the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and many other institutions.

At a major conference earlier this week, Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum professionals discussed these themes quite intensely, mainly due to the publishing of several new parliamentary white papers on digitalization and museums. PDF's and MP3's of conference presentations are available at the ABM-konferanse website. But the general public is also encouraged to think about digitalization. For 2009, Norwegians have been asked to produce "digital tales" about cultural heritage - short tales on anything from personal experiences to historical interpretation of photos or texts. More than a thousand digital tales have been uploaded so far to

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