Preservation. How do you make sure that your family's records and recordings last a long time?

More Kodak Moments of Closure: Kodak Gallery, Ektachrome

Kodachrome is now gone, with Ektachrome soon to follow. A coupla slides in one of my slide carousels. I've used them both, used them well. The Death of Kodak announcements, they keep rolling in. No sooner do I post about America’s Storyteller, Kodak, shedding parts of their photo businesses, and they announce a couple more endings. Kodak Gallery to be sold to Shutterfly, and Ektrachrome will go the way of Kodachrome: Away. Dead. Finis.

Kodak Gallery: In which I say something and am immediately proven wrong

I had this IM conversation last week. A friend read the previous entry and said

Friend: “I didn’t realize Kodak was going out of business. That’s unbelievable.”
Susan:  “I don’t think kodakgallery is on the chopping block…”

I said that because I’d read from the ending-of-digital-camera announcement that Kodak would be concentrating on their printing business. After all Kodak Gallery is a printing business, right? Upload photos, and get them printed. Alas, no. It looks as though Kodak will sell its Kodak Gallery site to Shutterfly. (The “printing business” is digital printers and inks) It’s a good thing I ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 04, 2012 in • LongevityObsolecencePhotographs
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Kodak: From “Remember The Day In Pictures” to “Remember using a Kodak camera?”

Kodak Ad, Life Magazine, Oct 10, 1949: Keep 'Family History' in snapshots For nearly 125 years Kodak’s reason for existence has been to provide the tools for people to create memories.
“Remember the day in pictures.”
“Keep ‘Family History’ in snapshots.”
“Remember the visit with snapshots.”
“For over 100 years people have trusted their memories to Kodak film.”
Kodak, the company that started in 1880 and popularized the film camera and invented the digital camera, recently announced that they’re no longer going to manufacture digital cameras and photo frames. How does one think of a dying behemoth? And not just any corporate behemoth, but a company that has been integral to capturing and storing our memories? Their 1970s ad said, “We’re America’s storyteller celebrating life with you –picturing the stories of everything you do.” Now Kodak is transforming into a memory.

Kodak ads in Life Magazine during the 1940s and 1950s.

There are three ways to consider this transformation.

The “Wow. Just wow.” factor

Most of the stories I’ve seen fit in this category . Wow. Kodak is no longer making digital cameras. Wow. Kodak is the company that invented the digital camera. The company has been around, like, forever. Look at that. Such a change. Wow. It just takes your breath away.

Let the Children Kodak.  Advertising Ephemera Collection - Database #K0079 Emergence of Advertising On-Line Project John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa/ Over my lifetime, I’ve shot pictures with an Instamatic camera, and a Pocket Instamatic (using Kodak film, of course.) When I got a 35mm Single Lens Reflex, I kept using Kodak film—lots of Kodak film. When I took a photography class, I bought Kodak chemicals and photo paper. I got a Kodak slide carousel projector ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 29, 2012 in • DigitalityInterviewingLongevityMemorabiliaObsolecencePhotographs
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Shocking Truth about Thin-skinned CDs (or why you should never write on a CD with a Sharpie)

I’d heard the adage that the top surface of a CD or DVD is thinner and more fragile than the bottom surface, but until I went on a cleaning bender, I didn’t get it. I reallly didn’t get it. It’s true, it’s true– the top layer of CDs and DVDs are thin. Shockingly thin. Here is a photo gallery of the CD that taught me just how fragile a writeable CD is.

After the holidays, I went on a desk and home office cleaning frenzy. Under a pile of papers, I discovered a disk that failed when I’d burned it. (also known as a “coaster!”) 

“Oh bummer,” I said. “A Bad CD. What’s it doing here? I should toss it out.” Then I remembered that I’ve wanted to destroy a disk just to see how it was put together. “Allrightie, then! I’m going to break this lil’ puppy!” I began to bend the CD. I figured that it would soon snap, but it bent and kept bending. At the crease, I noticed that a ripple appeared. It looked like a buckle or oblong bubble in the rainbow foil.

Strange! What is that? I bent the CD some more, then dug at the bubbly area ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 22, 2011 in • AudioAudio: HardwareDigitalityLongevity
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June 9 is International Archives Day

photos by Jim Kuhn/takomabibelot, CC some rights reserved. Detail of two sculptures at the National Archives, Washington DC. Celebrate the Archives in our midst. June 9, 1948 was the founding of the International Council of Archives. The anniversary is suitable for celebrating the founding of those institutions which keep and maintain the collective memory and documents of our society and culture.

Go visit some archives today! To whet your appetite, here are some archives and listings.

The National Archives has a resource center devoted to genealogists and family historians.

Oral History collections, as listed by In The First Person

White House Tapes.
Between 1940 and 1973, six American presidents from both political parties—FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, and Nixon—secretly recorded on tape just under 5,000 hours of their meetings and telephone conversations. The Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program is a unique effort aimed at making these remarkable historical sources accessible.

Miller Center for Public Affairs: Search the Scripps Library Digital Archive ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on June 09, 2010 in • ArchivingLongevity
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I’m following Digital Death Day today. Remotely

Digital Death Day: RIP, bits What happens to your bits after you die? That’s the premise behind the Digital Death Day unconference, currently in progress. (On twitter, check out the #ddd2010 hashtag). I’ll be posting provacative tweets and topics here on an ongoing basis.

Why does Family Oral History deal with digital death? The recordings of conversations that are saved in digital formats is the deliberate creation of digital bits that are meant to last longer than the speakers whose voices are recorded therein. It’s an edge-case of the central phenomenon explored at the conference. What happens to your bits once you die?

Here, in no particular order, are tweets from those in attendance, as a kind of thought-piece about the digital lives we have. Plus, for me, having experienced three deaths of people close to me in less than a year (and many more remote as friends’ parents shake off this mortal coil), it’s highly relevant.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 20, 2010 in • DigitalityLongevityPersonal History
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Not your father’s iPod… well, actually it is (a Walkman)

image For Sony Walkman’s 30th anniversary, 13-year old Scott Campbell tries it for a week. Hilarious for us oldsters to see our old fave equipment through a young-person’s eyes.

My dad had told me it was the iPod of its day.
He had told me it was big, but I hadn’t realised he meant THAT big. It was the size of a small book.

Size? cumbersome. Handy belt-clip, but with that weight? (you hafta read the article to find out its effect for current 13 year olds).

When I wore it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks, a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.

Though one teacher got nostalgic. Two tantalizing questions:

How long did it take for Campbell to figure out that there was a side B to this tape?

And how did he create his own impromptu “Shuffle” effect?

You hafta read the article to find out the ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on June 29, 2009 in • AudioAudio: HardwareDigitalityLongevityMemorabilia
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Restored Reel-to-Reel Tape Decks as Art.

image A Gallery of Custom Tape Decks, wherein Jeff Jacobs restores old audio technology as art, via BoingBoing Gadgets. I love the meta-line here. Jacobs restores tape decks, which I think of as tools for restoring (and digitizing) audio. If tape decks are art, then there’s a ton of art at Richard Hess’s audio tape restoration studio! In decades to come, when those machines grow ever scarcer, the BoingBoing post points to another source to find those long-obsolete tape decks of the world: the personal collections of geeks.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 12, 2009 in • AudioAudio: HardwareLongevityMemorabiliaRestoration
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CDs and DVDs: Tons of good info

The Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs, A guide for librarians and archivists. Found while researching the layer-cake sandwich of materials in an optical disk. Disk structure page. Did you know that the top side of a CD-R is thin and fragile? I mighta mentioned it before, but this underscores it, in a big way.

Also of note: the tests for aging and shelf-life of CDs and DVDs that you can burn yourself is that their pre-writing shelf life is limited to some 5 years or so. By all means, stock up, but don’t stock up too much.

Gold disks are the best. But that’s a topic for another post.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 19, 2007 in • ArchivingDigitalityLongevity
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Motion picture sci/tech report on archiving

[updated] Hollywood Reporter reports that (the Oscar organization)’s Science/Tech council’s released 64-page report on archiving. From the looks of it, the limits of digital are being manifest. I’d like to look closer to see how much of an overlap there is for motion picture industry’s archiving existing work and how to preserve audio and visual recordings that are born digital.

Update [18 November]: I went to the web site and inquired if the paper was available. Not in downloadable form, but if I supplied my name and address, they’d send me a copy. I did. The paper just arrived. It’s 74 pages (full color, nice production!) I’ll give it a read and report on any findings relevant to people doing family oral history.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 06, 2007 in • DigitalityLongevity
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Making a recording self-explanatory

I’ve been finalizing an Audio CD of a 1980-era recording that my Mom gave to me. (For her birthday). I’m making copies for her and for a brothers and a coupla cousins that will be at a family gathering. The “think long term” mindset has dug in and changed the way I mark CDs and my other “metadata” (data about the data) that I’m including with the CD. The recording came to me with some gaps in info, a generation and family branch removed, so I’m learning by doing and trying to create as dense a nugget of info to pass on to others with the CD as I can.

I was amused by a little in-situ metadata that was part of the recording itself, identifying who the main speakers are. The original recording was made by my grandfather’s cousin, Bud or George (I hafta ask my Mom again. I wasn’t there, I don’t know. Have never met either.) It opens with my grandpa telling a story. At the end, the narrator’s voice comes on and says, “That was Bruce B[ family name].” My great uncle, his brother, also told a story. The narrator identified him, too. It’s obvious he made this recording for his side of the family, and identified the speakers on the other side—that would be my side. I, of course recognize the voices that he identified, and am frustrated by ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on July 18, 2007 in • AfterwardsAudioAudio: SoftwareDo it: YourselfLongevity
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(UPDATED) Storyofmylife.com goes beta: Their Terms of Service Stopped Me Cold

The promise of storyofmylife.com is compelling. Store information about your life. Forever. They’re thinking way far ahead– they’ve established a non-profit foundation to store the stories in perpetuity. Sounds great. But I’m not going to use the site. (Well, beyond a quick signup and look see.) The Terms of Service has a big gotcha in it: You grant storyofmylife.com and its parent company, Eravita, a 6% (minimum) royalty of any money you make on the proceeds of any commercial creative endeavors of the story of your own life.

UPDATE: I heard from the site’s COO. They’ve changed the TOS and deleted the objectionable part. Continue reading the original post and, at the end, the relevant portion of email from Storyofmylife.com’s COO.

The TOS was brought to my attention by my friend Cynthia, who visited the site the first day it was open.

Today’s the first day I’ve had a chance to visit, and I’m rockin’ back on my heels. I’m scared to even sign up to see what is behind it. 

Here’s the part of their TOS in the big capital letters (side note: Why oh why does the most important stuff get printed in all caps, which, when presented in paragraph form, make the most important stuff the hardest to read?)

Note: They updated their TOS, view note at end of this post for more info.


Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on July 07, 2007 in • DigitalityFamily History SoftwareLongevityPersonal History
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End of the Reel for Cassette Tapes

Telegraph, UK: Curry’s, biggest retailer, announces that it’ll stop selling cassette tapes. News story is a sad lovesong to the format used by many a man to woo his woman. [via Practical Archivist] Having just digitized a 1980s-era cassette tape myself, I’ve a fondness for the format.

The High Street chain also predicts that this Christmas will be the last time it sells any hi-fi system with a tape deck included.

[...]The portability of the format moved out of the living room and on to the street. In 1989, helped by falling prices of hi-fi systems, 83 million music cassettes were sold in the UK. This fell to 53 million in 2000, and just half a million in 2005, according to Understanding & Solutions, a market research firm.

Last year only about 100,000 of the items were sold. However, this figure excludes audio books and blank tapes, which still attract a small, loyal fan base, with four million blank tapes sold last year and 1.5 million audio books.

I’ll have ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 09, 2007 in • AudioAudio: HardwareLongevity
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Oral History Conference Swag

Swag: Freebies. Giveaways. Schtuff. What kind of swag do you get at an oral history conference? Last weekend’s SOHA conference was the first oral history conference I’ve attended.

Now, I’ve gone to trade shows, I’ve gone to tech conferences. Heck, I even put ON a conference once. And when I worked for a software company, I remember the mad rush to create swaggy handouts for a trade show. What kind of goodies have I brought home with me? I’ve gotten pens and pencils flashlights, and carry bags and keychains, and sweatshirts and tee shirts and baby bibs and a condom (true!) and small flash memory drives. (See Flickr photos of Swag and Schwag)

The swag freebie available at the reception a week ago was a little different. The more I think about it, the more I like it.

There it was, a stack of boxes. “Free. Help yourself.” the sign said. An empty flat box.

tape box

Now mind you, this was a reception in a meeting room on the third floor of the library of Cal State Fullerton. Go through the door on the left, and you’re in the office of the Center for Public and Oral History. Weave your way this way and that and you’re in the stacks amid reel-to-reel magnetic tape, and (possibly) cassette tape and other audio media. And typed transcripts and other boxes. (off topic, but worthy of note, is the CSUF “house wine” they served at the reception. The merlot was good. Very nicely balanced. Fruit forward. But I digress.)

Now most swag is designed for promotion ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 27, 2007 in • Longevity
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Digitization Resources

I could spend a good, long day getting lost in these Digitization Resources links by Hurst Associates at Digitization 101. From a workshop Jill Hurst-Wahl led at the Comptuers in Libraries conference.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 18, 2007 in • DigitalityLinksLongevity
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The Lost last 20 years; and a plea for paper (!!!)

1980-2000 has disappeared into the ether. Sorry. The history that’s being written right now does not have this kind of sensory fulness (if it’s being saved at all): “I have recently spent many hours in the National Archives, ferreting through the wartime records of MI5. The sheer richness of written material is overwhelming: letters, memos, telephone transcripts, diaries, scribbled notes in the margins. You can smell the pipe smoke and personalities wafting off the pages.”

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 26, 2007 in • DigitalityLongevity
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