History Digitized (and Abridged) Follow-up

A follow-up post (read my previous) with various responses to the Katie Hafner article on History Digitized.

But before I do, I’ll offer my own, small what-if thought about how to get a bigger budget to digitize historical artifacts: I know of efforts and companies moving into this space. What they do: Digitizing Your Memories. Your Personal History. (Heck, this site is also an effort in this direction). Suppose that the players in this space were to create a fund from a small portion of proceeds of each company? The fund would underwrite digitization efforts. It’d never get as big as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, but it’d be focused on This One Thing.

Speaking of Bill Gates, David Rothman compares libraries to the steel industry (once a giant, now a weak shadow of its former self), concentrating on library budgets in a “follow the money.” What’s the library budget per person? He’s got the goods. Incidentally, Andrew Carnegie, who founded (funded?) so many libraries, got his money from steel. Rothman looks at the benefactor Bill Gates, and what his fund is buying (computing equipment) and what it is not (digitizing the data, the content, the stuff). Rothman’s Steel-and-Libraries inspiration comes from a post by Peter Brantly, digital librarian: There was a moment in the history of the steel industry where it could have adapted itself to changing conditions. And did not. Libraries are at a similar juncture. 

Tim O’Reilly, Publisher with a Preservationist Heart (O’Reilly books), ties the costliness of digitization to the dispute over Google’s Library Project—to digitize books. The Author’s Guild wishes it to be an opt-in arrangement, where Google will digitize a book only if a publisher says “Yes.”  O’Reilly says it should be opt-out, meaning Google will digitize books unless the publisher says “No.” The overall result is that more books will be digitized.

History: The next big thing? Giovanni Rodriguez wonders if social media (software and inter-connectivity allows people to connect with one another: think blogging, tagging, photos, podcasting, videoblogging, YouTube and more)—will extend backwards and forwards in time and make ” History may become the next big thing.” Further, he has thoughts similar to my thoughts on finding new corporate underwriting of digitization, but gives it that YouDo feel—make it a group collaborative effort. Find new alliances between academics, corporations and regular Joes and Janes. I’m all for that.

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Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 12, 2007 in • DigitalityHistoryLongevity
1 CommentsPermalink

« Previous History: If it isn’t digital, it doesn’t exist | Why International Women’s Day is Hard Next »


ahem. Thanks to Richard Hess who told me it’s Andrew  Carnegie, not Dale. I’m blushing. And grateful.

Susan A. Kitchens  on 03/12  at  01:31 PM

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