UPDATE: Read the Bottom.
I’m writing this quickly because it’s a simple idea, the simplest of simple ideas, although it could really change things up in the world. It is a San Francisco-based thing at the moment, in case you want to know if you can throw yourself bodily at it or need to throw your San Francisco friend bodily into it.
Here’s the pitch.
The Internet Archive (where I work at) has a room full of Scribe scanners. These are very nice scanners! They can take a book or item that is bound, or items that are not bound, and allow you to scan them very, very quickly. Much quicker than the classic “person with a flatbed” and in a way that is not “person with a flatbed and an x-acto knife and a very soon to be sad bound book”.
A Scribe scanner can scan a hundreds-of-pages book in less than 10 minutes. If you really have your act together and the book didn’t spend 9 years at the bottom of a swamp or have a “surprise” flaw in it, you can do it in under five. These are the books you see scanned on the Internet Archive’s book collection.
To do this, the Internet Archive has a set of paid employees (often doing contractual scans with libraries and other organizations) and volunteers. They work nearly 24 hours a day, in a couple dozen locations around the world. They scan books. A LOT OF BOOKS.
Here is a Live Statusboard of books being added to the Archive. Make it the full-screen item on a monitor in your room – it’s very exciting. And clickable, in case something catches your eye.
So this one’s been brewing, and I have the go-ahead to pursue it.
I AND ANOTHER SET OF PEOPLE HAVE INTERESTING AND VALUABLE PRINTED MATERIALS RELATED TO COMPUTER HISTORY WE’RE SITTING ON. LET’S ASSEMBLE SOME SAN-FRANCISCO-BASED VOLUNTEERS TO SCAN THEM ON SUNDAY AFTERNOONS FOR A SET PERIOD OF TIME. LET’S PUT ALL THIS STUFF ONLINE AND THEN I AND OTHERS CAN CHOOSE TO DONATE THESE MATERIALS TO COMPUTER HISTORY ARCHIVES, SAFE IN THE KNOWLEDGE THEY ARE BOTH ONLINE NOW AND STORED FOR THE FUTURE.
Pretty simple, huh.
It is October 1st, 2012. This Friday, October 5th, the Internet Archive has an open lunch where there’s tours of the place, including the scanning room, and people get up and talk about what they’re up to. The Internet Archive is at 300 Funston Street. I’m here all week and into next.
Do you have an interest? Would you like a tour (either during the lunch on Friday or another time you arrange with me) and then you’d get schooled on how to add an item’s metadata, and then you scan in these materials?
Well guess what.
Contact me at email@example.com or come to this lunch at noon this Friday, let’s talk it out.
My dream is there’s this known shift, afternoons on Sundays, where the Scan Brigade mailing list agrees who takes the shift for this week, and it gets done. The more people, the more likely every slot gets filled. As a bonus, I’ve been told there’s room for Scan Brigade people who want to come at other times than this established Sunday to come in. So do you get the scanning bug and want to do it three times a week? That can happen.
Let’s do this.
Let’s demolish this pile.
It’s worth a shot, right?
So, I shot a little high with this one. What I didn’t know (and probably couldn’t, because I’m a remote employee), is that the Internet Archive hasn’t run a weekend shift in a very, very long time – and they no longer have an evening shift of any kind, having scaled back recently. Maybe this is an excellent time to consider a tax-deductable donation! But regardless, this means I can’t have people in on unusual hours, since there’s no-one else there, and I don’t live in SF, which means I can’t open the place on weekends (otherwise I totally would).
So consider this one dormant. We’re looking at lending me one of the machines locally in New York, where I live, and then I’d have a different range of NY-based folks involved in the project. Details on that if/when it happens. The dream is not over!
Categorised as: Archive Team
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