Posts tagged with ‘history’

A History of Documentary + Technology
If you didn’t check it out last year, MIT’s Open Documentary Lab and IDFA’s DocLab created a fantastically visual history of documentary in Moments of Innovation. It’s an interactive site that covers various histories of innovation in documentary such as location-based documentary, beginning with Sanborn fire insurance maps in 1867 and ending with Arcade Fire’s music video, The Wildnerness Downtown, or participatory documentary, beginning with the brownie camera and ending with #18daysinEgypt. 
They explain:

We are interested in history, in connecting the dots between our latest endeavors and those conceptual pioneers and technological prototypes that came before them. We consider innovation both in the creative application of new technologies and in the creative impulse that lead documentarians to invent new technologies.
We are interested in continuities and disruptions, in tracking down origins and inspirations. Although our theme is evolutionary, we do not assume that recent instances are better than earlier ones – they are different, and our goal is to recall those earlier instances, to learn from and to celebrate them.

FJP: Totally interesting to explore. And feel free make suggestions for innovative moments to be added. And here’s an LA Times review.

A History of Documentary + Technology

If you didn’t check it out last year, MIT’s Open Documentary Lab and IDFA’s DocLab created a fantastically visual history of documentary in Moments of Innovation. It’s an interactive site that covers various histories of innovation in documentary such as location-based documentary, beginning with Sanborn fire insurance maps in 1867 and ending with Arcade Fire’s music video, The Wildnerness Downtown, or participatory documentary, beginning with the brownie camera and ending with #18daysinEgypt. 

They explain:

We are interested in history, in connecting the dots between our latest endeavors and those conceptual pioneers and technological prototypes that came before them. We consider innovation both in the creative application of new technologies and in the creative impulse that lead documentarians to invent new technologies.

We are interested in continuities and disruptions, in tracking down origins and inspirations. Although our theme is evolutionary, we do not assume that recent instances are better than earlier ones – they are different, and our goal is to recall those earlier instances, to learn from and to celebrate them.

FJP: Totally interesting to explore. And feel free make suggestions for innovative moments to be added. And here’s an LA Times review.

Hello, Gutenberg

Via the Associated Press.

Access to the Gutenberg Bible and other ancient manuscripts has just gotten easier.

The Vatican Library and Oxford University’s Bodleian Library put the first of 1.5 million pages of their precious manuscripts online Tuesday, bringing their collections to a global audience for the first time.

The two libraries in 2012 announced a four-year project to digitize some of the most important works in their collections of Hebrew manuscripts, Greek manuscripts and early printed books…

…The Vatican Library was founded in 1451 and is one of the most important research libraries in the world. It has 180,000 manuscripts, 1.6 million books and 150,000 prints, drawings and engravings. The Bodleian is the largest university library in Britain, with more than 11 million printed works.

Images: Screenshots of the Gutenberg Bible, via Oxford University’s Bodleian Library. Select to embiggen.

People Dreamed of a Portable Library of Congress in 1936
Via BoingBoing:
In this 1936 Modern Mechanix article, a fantasy about shrinking the Library of Congress to fit “in a few small filing cabinets” on microfiche/film. Once this is done, copies of the great library will be distributed to worthy institutions all over the world.
This is one of the Ur-dreams of librarianship, what Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive calls “universal access to all human knowledge.” Today’s Internet was shaped by people who share the dream. It’s a beautiful one.
Image: ModernMechanix

People Dreamed of a Portable Library of Congress in 1936

Via BoingBoing:

In this 1936 Modern Mechanix article, a fantasy about shrinking the Library of Congress to fit “in a few small filing cabinets” on microfiche/film. Once this is done, copies of the great library will be distributed to worthy institutions all over the world.

This is one of the Ur-dreams of librarianship, what Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive calls “universal access to all human knowledge.” Today’s Internet was shaped by people who share the dream. It’s a beautiful one.

Image: ModernMechanix

Grace Kelly on JFK

PBS Digital’s Blank on Blank interview series brings us Grace Kelly’s account of her experiences with President John F. Kennedy.

FJP: Apparently, the first time she met him, she went into his hospital room at night and pretended to be a nurse. Can I get a hell yeah? — Krissy

Video: Blank on Blank

William Mumler’s Paranormal Photography
In the 1860s, photographer William Mumler claimed that he could photograph ghosts. He’d take portraits of living people with faint images of the departed lurking behind them, or at times, comforting them, as with the photo he took of Mary Todd being comforted by the recently assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Some believed he could actually channel the dead. Others were skeptical and felt he was exploiting the grieving. His insistence that he actually brought back the dead eventually lead to a famous trial in 1869. Read about it in The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer, by Louis Kaplan. It’s a fascinating story.
Minnesota UPress: 

Mumler’s case was an early example of investigative journalism intersecting with a criminal trial that, at its essence, set science against religion. The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer is the definitive resource for this unique and fascinating moment in American history and provides insights into today’s ghosts in the machine. 

Nothing like a deep dive into paranormal photography to celebrate Halloween. Happy All Things Scary, from the FJP.
Image: John J. Glover with a spirit (possibly of his mother), via Wikimedia Commons.

William Mumler’s Paranormal Photography

In the 1860s, photographer William Mumler claimed that he could photograph ghosts. He’d take portraits of living people with faint images of the departed lurking behind them, or at times, comforting them, as with the photo he took of Mary Todd being comforted by the recently assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Some believed he could actually channel the dead. Others were skeptical and felt he was exploiting the grieving. His insistence that he actually brought back the dead eventually lead to a famous trial in 1869. Read about it in The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer, by Louis Kaplan. It’s a fascinating story.

Minnesota UPress

Mumler’s case was an early example of investigative journalism intersecting with a criminal trial that, at its essence, set science against religion. The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer is the definitive resource for this unique and fascinating moment in American history and provides insights into today’s ghosts in the machine. 

Nothing like a deep dive into paranormal photography to celebrate Halloween. Happy All Things Scary, from the FJP.

Image: John J. Glover with a spirit (possibly of his mother), via Wikimedia Commons.

Just as victory has many fathers, great events often have many birthdays. We choose Oct. 29, 1969, as Day One of the Internet (which would make it 44 years old today) for a good reason. That was when the very first message moved between the first two computers connected on the new network designed to link the numerous computer science projects funded by the government. →

Happy Birthday, Internets

Via the Los Angeles Times:

That morning, an operator at Professor Leonard Kleinrock’s lab in UCLA’s Boelter Hall began tapping out the word “LOGIN” and sending it to a sister computer at SRI, a government contractor, in Menlo Park, Calif. (The linked computers were known as Interface Message Processors, or IMPs; UCLA’s was IMP-1.) He got as far as “LO” before the SRI unit crashed. Later that day the bug was fixed and the message completed. Within a year, ARPAnet linked 10 computers across the country.

FJP: You can quibble with dates but this seems as good as one as any. Just remember, the Internet isn’t the Web (implemented in 1989) and the Web isn’t the Internet.

History of Israel/Palestine, Animation Edition

Nina Paley, copyleft advocate and creator of the ever lovely Sita Sings the Blues, takes on the history of Israel/Palestine in this animated short.

Starting with with the first human settlers of the region to the Egyptians, Assyrians and Romans who each controlled it throughout the millennia, she navigates her way down to current day Israelis and Palestinians while focusing on a a fairly simple theme: it’s a perpetual and ongoing battleground.

Confused who’s who? View Nina’s Viewer Guide to her cast of characters.

Run Time: ~3:30

How the Media Would Have Covered Columbus’s Discovery
In case you missed Monday’s Columbus day special from NY Mag.

How the Media Would Have Covered Columbus’s Discovery

In case you missed Monday’s Columbus day special from NY Mag.

What's it like to witness an execution? →

Sound Portraits, which was established in 1994 by the brilliant radio producer David Isay, was the predecessor to StoryCorps. The mission was to produce radio documentaries (broadcast on NPR’s All Things Conisdered and Weekend Edition) profiling men and women “surviving in the margins”:

Told with care and dignity, the work depicts the lives of Americans living in communities often neglected or misunderstood. Sound Portraits frequently collaborates with people living in these hard-to-access corners of America, giving them tape recorders and microphones and helping them tell their own stories.

Witness to an Execution, which won a Peabody in 2000, includes interviews with men and women involved in the execution of death-row inmates at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas. These are people who have observed or administered executions countless times. (One-third of all executions in the US have taken place in Texas since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977). The piece was narrated by Warden Jim Willett, who oversaw all Texas executions.

Read more about the documentary here, and click on the MP3 on the right of the page (yes, it’s an old website) to have a listen. Incredibly powerful.

Delia Derbyshire & BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop
Utne Reader:

One of the biggest challenges to appreciating avant-garde culture is accessibility. Often, the art, music, film, or literature is so different from the accepted mainstream that when it stands on its own, most people find it impossible to understand and pointless to try.
But in the 1960s, some avant-garde artists started to find ways to attach innovative and progressive art to the mainstream. One such example was the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which used electronic sounds to create the futuristic soundscapes and themes that punctuated and complemented BBC radio broadcasts of the era. As Frances Morgan points out in the September 2013 issue of Sight & Sound, this helped experimental musicians bypass the critics and directly introduce their forward-thinking music to millions of British radio listeners. As part of the shared cultural experience of listening to the radio, music that was at first considered radical became familiar and eventually even nostalgic for those who grew up with it. 
One of the most notable of the BBC technicians was Delia Derbyshire, who worked in the Workshop from 1960 to 1973. While she compiled more than 260 reel-to-reel tapes of electronic sound compositions over that time.

Derbyshire is well-known for the Doctor Who original theme song. Utne Reader points to a BBC documentary about her called the Sculptress of Sound, which, if you’re interested in the history of the workshop, and in the woman who was a pioneer of (the then male-dominated) electronic music world, you should watch.
Image: Dick Mills and Mark Ayres, two veterans of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop use surviving equipment to revive sounds from the past. (via Paul Townsend)

Delia Derbyshire & BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop

Utne Reader:

One of the biggest challenges to appreciating avant-garde culture is accessibility. Often, the art, music, film, or literature is so different from the accepted mainstream that when it stands on its own, most people find it impossible to understand and pointless to try.

But in the 1960s, some avant-garde artists started to find ways to attach innovative and progressive art to the mainstream. One such example was the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which used electronic sounds to create the futuristic soundscapes and themes that punctuated and complemented BBC radio broadcasts of the era. As Frances Morgan points out in the September 2013 issue of Sight & Sound, this helped experimental musicians bypass the critics and directly introduce their forward-thinking music to millions of British radio listeners. As part of the shared cultural experience of listening to the radio, music that was at first considered radical became familiar and eventually even nostalgic for those who grew up with it. 

One of the most notable of the BBC technicians was Delia Derbyshire, who worked in the Workshop from 1960 to 1973. While she compiled more than 260 reel-to-reel tapes of electronic sound compositions over that time.

Derbyshire is well-known for the Doctor Who original theme song. Utne Reader points to a BBC documentary about her called the Sculptress of Sound, which, if you’re interested in the history of the workshop, and in the woman who was a pioneer of (the then male-dominated) electronic music world, you should watch.

Image: Dick Mills and Mark Ayres, two veterans of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop use surviving equipment to revive sounds from the past. (via Paul Townsend)

The greatest invention of the ancient Hebrews was the idea of the sabbath, though I am using this word in a fully secular sense: the invention of a region free from control of the state and commerce where another dimension of life could be experienced and where altered forms of social relationship could occur. As such, the sabbath has always been a major resistance to state and market power. For purposes of communication, the effective penetration of the sabbath came in the 1880s with the invention of the Sunday newspaper.

Communications theorist James W. Carey, in Technology and Ideology: The Case of the Telegraph, from his book Communication as Culture (1989).

Carey’s essay discusses the development of standard time zones, which he says “served to overlay the world with a grid of time in the same way the surveyor’s map laid a grid of space on old cities, the new territories of the West, or the seas.” Standardizing time allowed for it to be used to control and coordinate activities. 

In the above excerpt, he considers the sabbath as a time zone that could be “penetrated” and explains how William Randolph Hearst did so by popularizing the idea of the Sunday newspaper. This perspective could also be applied to commercial broadcasting and the advent of 24-hour television. He writes:

It was Hearst with his New York Sunday World who popularized the idea of Sunday newspaper reading and created, in fact, a market where none had existed before—a sabbath market. Since then the penetration of the sabbath has been one of the “frontiers” of commercial activity. Finally, when the frontier in space was officially closed in 1890, the “new frontier” became the night, and since then there has been a continuous spreading upward of commercial activity. 

Murray Melbin (1987) has attempted to characterize “night as a frontier.” In terms of communication the steady expansion of commercial broadcasting into the night is one of the best examples. There were no 24-hour radio stations in Boston, for example, from 1918 through 1954; now half of the stations in Boston operate all night. Television has slowly expanded into the night at one end and at the other initiated operations earlier and earlier. Now, indeed, there are 24-hour television stations in major markets.

FJP: It’s a pretty interesting thought—the colonization, in essence—of time, by media. I discovered the reading in a journalism history course I’m taking with Andie Tucher, whom we’ve interviewed here on the FJP. Check out her videos. —Jihii

[Was hard] news ever commercial?

Gerald J. Baldasty’s book, The Commercialization of News in the Nineteenth Century, makes a case clear as spring water that hard news has almost never been a mass commercial enterprise.

The American newspapers of the 1820s and early 1830s were creatures of political parties, edited by zealots. Essentially propaganda sheets, these newspapers were “devoted to winning elections,” as Baldasty wrote… Without newspapers, top political organizer Martin Van Buren once said, “we might as well hang our harps on willows.”

Political parties supported the papers financially, and when editors strayed from the party line into independence, the parties would dump their newspapers.

This Day in History
Today marks the 68th anniversary of the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Some interesting historical media available online:
How the New York Times reported it at the time.
How The BBC reported it at the time.
The Prelinger Archive of videos on Hiroshima and the building of the bomb leading up to it.
A silent 1946 film from the US National Archives.
A National Geographic documentary.
Image: A man looks over the expanse of ruins left by the explosion of the atomic bomb on in Hiroshima, Japan. Via Boston.com. Select to embiggen.

This Day in History

Today marks the 68th anniversary of the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Some interesting historical media available online:

Image: A man looks over the expanse of ruins left by the explosion of the atomic bomb on in Hiroshima, Japan. Via Boston.com. Select to embiggen.

3,000 Classic Books
From Jane Austen to HG Wells. All fit for a thumb drive.
Via Cool Mom Tech.

3,000 Classic Books

From Jane Austen to HG Wells. All fit for a thumb drive.

Via Cool Mom Tech.