I Am An American
Late last summer The Atlantic put together a nice round-up of free online image collections.
These range from the well known, such as Flickr Commons, to the less well known, such as the Washington State Coastal Atlas.
In between, for your browsing and remixing pleasure, check out Rijks Studio from the Netherlands’ state museum, and the Open Content Program from the J. Paul Getty Trust which launched just this year.
Read through for other collections at The Atlantic.
Image: A Japanese-American hangs a sign on his grocery store December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Via the Calisphere open image collection.
Mapping 400,000 Hours of US TV News
Via the Internet Archive:
We are excited to unveil a couple experimental data-driven visualizations that literally map 400,000 hours of U.S. television news. One of our collaborating scholars, Kalev Leetaru, applied “fulltext geocoding” software to our entire television news research service collection. These algorithms scan the closed captioning of each broadcast looking for any mention of a location anywhere in the world, disambiguate them using the surrounding discussion (Springfield, Illinois vs Springfield, Massachusetts), and ultimately map each location. The resulting CartoDB visualizations provide what we believe is one of the first large-scale glimpses of the geography of American television news, beginning to reveal which areas receive outsized attention and which are neglected….
…What you see here represents our very first experiment with revealing the geography of television news and required bringing together a bunch of cutting-edge technologies that are still very much active areas of research. While there is still lots of work to be done, we think this represents a tremendously exciting prototype for new ways of interacting with the world’s information by organizing it geographically and putting it on a map where it belongs!
There are two ways to explore the visualization: one is to watch news mentions of different places in the world each day, the other is to select a TV station and time window and see what it reported on.
Related: This former librarian single-handedly taped 35 years of TV news. This one’s well worth the read. Marion Stokes recorded Philadelphia news stations from 1977 - 2012, and a batch of the 140,000 VHS tapes she produced is being digitized by The Internet Archive.
Image: Screenshot, TV News Archive, via the Internet Archive. Select to embiggen.
Census Bureau Releases Mapping Tool
The US Census Bureau today released an updated set of statistics based on its nation-wide, 2008-2012 American Community Survey. Along with it, the Bureau’s created an interactive map to allow users to visually explore communities across the country.
Via the US Census Bureau:
The new application allows users to map out different social, economic and housing characteristics of their state, county or census tract, and to see how these areas have changed since the 1990 and 2000 censuses. The mapping tool is powered by American Community Survey statistics from the Census Bureau’s API, an application programming interface that allows developers to take data sets and reuse them to create online and mobile apps.
Site visitors can explore eight core statistics (eg, median household income, total population and education levels) via the map.
Those with coding chops can hit up the Census Bureau’s API to develop creations of their own. The API gives access to 40 social, economic and housing topics.
Image: Screenshot, Census Explorer.
Global e-Waste Growing to 65.4 Million Tons by 2017
A new study by a coalition of NGOs, and industry, science, UN and government bodies, attempts to map the flow of e-waste around the globe. In doing so, it predict a huge surge in our collective discarded junk, with the United States and China generating the most waste.
Via The Independent:
[S]oaring international demand for electric and electronic products is fueling a global rise in e-waste, which is set to reach 65.4 million tons annually by 2017.
The grim forecast is from a new study released today, which has mapped more than 180 countries.
It reveals that, in only five years, the yearly amount of e-waste will rise 33 per cent from the 49 million tons of used electrical and electronic items generated last year…
…Mobile phones form the bulk of the 14 million used electronic products exported, with most used phones destined for Hong Kong, and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Old computers are generally sent to Asian countries, while heavy items such as TVs and computer monitors end up in places such as Mexico, Venezuela, Paraguay and China.
The exportation of our unwanted electronics has strong, local health concerns. Take, for example, Guiyu, China. The town has become a dumping ground for old computers, phones and other gadgets with an industry arising that tries to strip valuable metals from, say, say microchips.
Side effect, according to the BBC:
The soil in Guiyu has been found to be so saturated with heavy metals such as lead, chromium and tin that groundwater has become undrinkable.
According to China’s Shantou University, the town has the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world, and local children suffer from an extremely high rate of lead poisoning.
Image: A woman in Guiyu, China strips electronics of their valuable parts. Select to embiggen.
Meet Ricardo Baca, the Denver Post’s New Marijuana Editor
It’s a job, and somebody has to do it.
Besides, over at the Independent, they think “it sounds like the best job in journalism.”
At the Spafford Children’s Center for in East Jerusalem, L.A.–based photographer Brian McCarty watched as a little girl made a crayon drawing of a dead boy. She carefully colors in a red pool of blood around his body. It was a drawing that McCarty would later use to stage one of his photographs for WAR-TOYS, a series that recreates children’s memories and fears of conflict in the Middle East with toys.
“Play can become a mechanism for healing,” says McCarty. Drawing on the tenets of art and play therapy, which help children express emotions in non-verbal ways, he sees WAR-TOYS as providing witness to the often unseen impact of armed conflict on children, while serving as part of these children’s therapeutic process.
According to Wired, McCarty worked with children on the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, and hopes to collaborate with others on this series in Afghanistan, Sudan and Colombia.
Image: Resilience, by Brian McCarty, via Wired. Select to embiggen. Read through for more photos and the rest of the story.
The National Library of Norway is digitizing its entire collection. The Norwegian Legal Deposit Act requires that all published content, in all media, be deposited with the National Library of Norway. The collection is also being expanded through purchases and gifts. The digital collection contains material dating from the Middle Ages up to the current day. —
Via The National Library of Norway.
What, what does that mean?
The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal takes it away:
…[W]hen the library is finished scanning, the entire record of a people’s language and literature will be machine-readable and sitting in whatever we call the cloud in 15 years.
If you happen to be in Norway, as measured by your IP address, you will be able to access all 20th-century works, even those still under copyright. Non-copyrighted works from all time periods will be available for download.
According to the Scandinavian Library Quarterly, the National Library is six years into its digitization process. The results so far: a collection of approximately “350,000 newspaper copies, 235,000 books, 240,000 pages of handwritten manuscripts, 4,000 posters, 740,000 hours of radio broadcasts, 310,000 hours of television programmes, 7,000 videocassettes/films, 7,000 78-rpm records and 8,000 audiotapes.”
Pretty amazing that a country values the cultural capital of its media to recognize it as a common resource for all its citizens. Meantime, in the States, well, copyright, although a federal judge did back Google’s book digitization efforts in November.
British Library: Go Forth and Remix
Via the British Library:
We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain. The images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of.
Now check out the British Library’s next steps:
We plan to launch a crowdsourcing application at the beginning of next year, to help describe what the images portray. Our intention is to use this data to train automated classifiers that will run against the whole of the content. The data from this will be as openly licensed as is sensible (given the nature of crowdsourcing) and the code, as always, will be under an open licence.
The manifests of images, with descriptions of the works that they were taken from, are available on github and are also released under a public-domain ‘licence’. This set of metadata being on github should indicate that we fully intend people to work with it, to adapt it, and to push back improvements that should help others work with this release.
There are very few datasets of this nature free for any use and by putting it online we hope to stimulate and support research concerning printed illustrations, maps and other material not currently studied. Given that the images are derived from just 65,000 volumes and that the library holds many millions of items.
Image: Detail, page 331, “L’Alsace et des Alsaciens à travers les siècles,” via the British Library on Flickr. Select to embiggen.
The NSA didn’t wake up and say, ‘Let’s just spy on everybody.’ They looked up and said, ‘Wow, corporations are spying on everybody. Let’s get ourselves a copy. — Bruce Schneier, Cryptographer and security specialist, via Reform Corporate Surveillance, a parody site of Reform Government Surveillance, created by Aral Balkan, Founder of Indie Phone.