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Google to Digitize National Archives Footage 273

Anil Kandangath writes "Google today announced their pilot program to digitize the entire video content of the National Archives and make it globally accessible for free on Google Video. The history of the world should be universally accessible and this is definitely a great step towards making sure that our history is not lost, and that everyone has equal and easy access towards such information. Google has provided some sample videos from the National Archives, such as the 1969 moon landing."
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Google to Digitize National Archives Footage

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  • One (Score:4, Funny)

    by smvp6459 ( 896580 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:14PM (#14795961)
    One small step for google kind?
    • Re:One (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No no no, you've got it all wrong.

      "One small step for a Google, one giant leap for google kind."

      Get your facts straight before coming to /. like everyone else
  • YAY! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ferrellcat ( 691126 ) *
    The history of the world will be archived in the form of crappy, low resolution flash movies!!!
    • It's a start (Score:3, Insightful)

      Heck, I'll take low res but free and easily accessible format than nothing and have to comb through the archives by hand. Maybe part of the reason we're experiencing a period of such rapid technological advancement is because we're cutting back on research time via computerization and greater accessibility to data, so I think anything that helps towards that end (starting with the national archives) is a good idea.
    • Re:YAY! (Score:5, Funny)

      by tapo ( 855172 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:32PM (#14796118) Homepage
      Here's another way to think about it,

      The 1969 moon landing will be archived along with other gems of human history, such as "Poop Today" [google.com] and "My ex-girlfriend shows her pussy" [google.com]. Frankly, kudos to Google! I can't wait.

    • Well, the button on the right that says "Download" *could* be misread as "Send me Viagra". But that's just cause I don't really have very high expectations when it comes to the intelligence of humans in general.
    • Re:YAY! (Score:5, Informative)

      by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes@NOsPAM.xmsnet.nl> on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:34PM (#14796135)
      Actually, the first video I tried ('The eagle has landed 1969') is downloadable as an .avi file. 67 Mb, 480x360 divx. I'd call that pretty good.
      • Actually, the first video I tried ('The eagle has landed 1969') is downloadable as an .avi file. 67 Mb, 480x360 divx. I'd call that pretty good.

        Where? I haven't used Google Video very much and I can't seem to find that option.

    • Re:YAY! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kevin_conaway ( 585204 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:36PM (#14796150) Homepage
      Wow.

      Just..wow. What would make you not complain?

      They're giving you something quite nice for free and you still spit on it!

      AND it got modded insightful!
      • I got no mod pooints so kudos to you....

        This is astonishingly cool news... I can sit here, in Auckland, New Zealand, and trawl (not troll) through archive footage going back to Sir Thomas Lipton sailing in one of the first America's Cup yachting regattas.

        Come on, people. Are we so jaded that this isn't taken for what it is? It's fantastic news. Gone are the days of history text books that don't mention the Korean War, let alone anything more recent. Gone are the maths texts that have been scribbled on/chewe
        • Re:YAY! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Reducer2001 ( 197985 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @04:45PM (#14796712) Homepage
          We have access to a staggering amount of information - the collected knowledge of the world is at our fingertips. Yay us.

          Yes, yay us. But all this information in the world is useless unless we put it to good use.

          I have a friend who is extremely proud of the mega tool collection he has in his garage. He could do so much with it, like fix cars for extra cash, or maybe build an electronic gizmo with instructions found on the Internet. But he doesn't, so to him those tools are worthless.

          Our collective information is great, now we just need to do something with it!

          • Re:YAY! (Score:3, Interesting)

            by shaitand ( 626655 )
            "Our collective information is great, now we just need to do something with it!"

            Things like flying to the moon? Sending robots to another planet and then controling them via invisible forces that we have mastered and harnassed to do our bidding. Perhaps you were thinking more like capturing the forces behind the flashes of light in the sky, storing their power, and then harnessing that to send devices floating around our planet so that they can map and pinpoint every position on it within a few centimeters?
      • Valid question... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @04:53PM (#14796772)
        He happens to be wrong regarding the actual resolutions involved, but his question was entirely valid. Please don't knock people for asking questions. If no one asks questions, you only get what the first guy thought of. If everyone questions and debates (in a mature manner) however, you get the best people can come up with.

        Actually, I'd like to ask a related question. Are Google also providing the national archives with their OWN copy, in an open format, which they are free to use as they see fit? I know that's part of what the Libraries involved in Google Scholar/Books have been offered, and that's the only reason I think they should participate. It's all well and good that Google makes this stuff available online for free, but the stuff belongs to us all, and its digitisation shouldn't be restricted to google.com, or any other .com
    • I've been working on a digital archives project here at work, and apparently there's an open source archive product called Fedora [fedora.info]. One of the interesting features of it is that the archived format of the digital object can be different from the presented format of the digital object. So in the case of movies, you can archive a high-res MPEG4 or whatever format you want, but display it to web-based users as a crappy low-res Flash movie. When user requirements change (e.g., users' bandwidth dramatically in
      • Fedora (Score:3, Funny)

        by CarpetShark ( 865376 )
        and apparently there's an open source archive product called Fedora
        Oh, come on. We all know Debian is better, but it's just not fair to call Fedora an archive project ;)
    • by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @04:37PM (#14796646)

      I hate to break this to you, but for most of the history of "movies" it's all been pretty low-res. I watched those shots form the moon live in 1969, and it didn't look any better than what I just called called up on my extremely hi-res monitor. The main difference being that in 1969 my college student budget extended to a black and white tube set from the Salvation Army Trift Store. We're talking about an analog video squirt from the moon at a time when I was doing college physics and chemistry with a slide rule and calculus with a pencil.

      These images are extremely important, and having them freely available is priceless. Rading about history is not the same as seeing the people involved. Seeing Churchill give a speech is far better than reading it. Seeing Nixon's Checkers speech is priceless.

  • Betcha they don't make the Zapruder movie available. Betcha! It's these wily Republicans in charge now, their parents and grandparents probably had a finger in assassinating JFK and won't to cover it up.

    Or maybe it's just that their natural secretiveness will extend to this.

    But I betcha we don't get the Zapruder movie.
    • It's these wily Republicans in charge now, their parents and grandparents probably had a finger in assassinating JFK and won't to cover it up.

      What? No, no, no, Cuba Killed Kennedy [theconservativevoice.com] and we're liberating it when Iraq is done, now that we have evidence.

      Please try to keep your conspiracies straight!
      • You know, I have this wild theory: Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, all by himself.

        I'm also concinved that Elvis Presley is actually dead, and is buried in a crypt at Graceland.

        -jcr
        • I'm also concinved that Elvis Presley is actually dead, and is buried in a crypt at Graceland.

          Not any more. DHS was afraid that terrorists would break in and take the body hostage, so they secretly removed his body and buried it in an ostensibly unnamed grave. If terrorists manage to break in, authorities will just dig up the real body and 'find it' nearby -- claiming that the thieves were scared off and had to leave it behind.

          And now, having told you, I'll have to hunt you down and kill you.

  • So Google is archiving made-up stuff too?
  • Like archive.org... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:17PM (#14795986) Homepage Journal
    ...only a different target collection (archive.org has a "moving images" collection too).

    Archive.org could use their support too...their site performance is usually sluggish, though they already have some biggies sponsoring them, including HP, NSF and the LOC.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Archive.org could use their support too

      Archive.org did try selling its archive operations to google once, but google refused, pointing out that it already has the entirety of archive.org in the googlecache.
      • Where did you get that information.

        Rick Prelinger's archive was donated to the Library of Congress in 2002. They may have asked google to help host this, but as usual google doesn't care about anything they can't get tons of press from, so hosting something that has been around for a while doesn't suit their needs.
  • Does this seem suspiciously like the giant-brain episode of Futurama to anyone else?

    It all started as an innocent attempt to record and catalog everything in the universe.. but the brains decided they had to destroy the universe right after it finished recording the last bit of data, so things would stop happening and new data would not have to be recorded.
  • by jonbeckett73 ( 847732 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:19PM (#14796005) Homepage

    How the hell is the US national archives the "history of the world"?

    It's exactly what it says it is - the "US National Archives" - i.e. the US version of video recorded history, given whatever slant the news networks of the day were putting on things.

    I'm not anti-American (I have American family), but I WISH the US would remember that they are ONE country in a VERY big world.

    • I wouldn't go so far (Score:5, Informative)

      by RedHatLinux ( 453603 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:22PM (#14796029) Homepage
      as to call it the history of the world, but in all fairness to NARA, it has a great deal of captured documentation from the Second World War and some other sources. So, it's more than a mere history of America.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      and _I_ wish the US would remember that they are ONE country in a VERY big world.

      You should live here, it is unbelievable. One guy falls from a building in Chicago and it gets three minutes of the evening news. A mudslide in another country kills thousands and it only gets a few seconds.

      Some other country may as well equal some other planet to most of my neighbors.

    • The sun never sets on the American Empire...
    • Last time I checked, the US was part of the world. US history is part of world history. Making US history accessible to everyone is one step to making the world's history accessible to everyone.

      To put it in Slashdot terms, it's like saying "It'd be great if Microsoft released all of their source code. Releasing Windows XP's source code is a good start". Sure Windows XP isn't the only product Microsoft makes but it's still a piece of the puzzle.

  • I just wanted to say this makes me feel better after reading the HD DVD AACS news for most of the day!!
  • I am not so sure I trust Google anymore. I would think they would have no problems censoring based on government request. You'll be able to see old edison reels about the dog/sausage transmogrifier, but I bet selective quasi-current things, say Vietnam and newer, will be selectively censored.
    • I am not so sure I trust Google anymore. I would think they would have no problems censoring based on government request.

      And you're basing this on what? Google seemed to have no difficulty standing up to the US government when it requested information from them. There are probably a lot of things you could criticize Google for, but a lack of willingness to stand up to the US government in defense of their legal rights has so far not been one of them.

    • I would think they would have no problems censoring based on government request

      And you would be right.

      ( 1 - 10 of about 1,830,000 for google censor china)
  • since we *own* it, we should really be able to download our own copies of this footage, rather than being forced to get a broadband connection to the internet and access Google's ( kinda junky, IMHO ) in-browser web player every time we want to view these.

    I do like the fact that Google is digitizing this footage, though IMHO the government spending money on doing that and providing the end result to the public would be a much, much better way to spend our tax dollars than several other much more expensive

  • no fair! (Score:2, Funny)

    But they're violating history's copyright!
  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:24PM (#14796041) Journal
    This very exciting news but I can't help but wonder if this compromises the altruism behind the contemporay concept of library archives.

    Acording to Straight Dope [straightdope.com] The first trend is the so-called "social library," and it was invented by Benjamin Franklin. You could join his library by buying stock in his company and books were only available to members.

    Almost 200 years later came along the Scottish-born industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie thought libraries and books should be available to everyone. He was attacked by both the right, which called him a Communist for wanting to use taxes for libraries, and the left, which viewed taxes as a drain on the working man. By 1920, the Carnegie estate had donated $50 million to erect 2,500 library buildings, including 1,700 in the U.S.

    Oversimplifications aside, which one is Google? The visionary? Or the profiteer?
    • Like the Truth.com commercial about tobacco companies.
      "A tobacco company once gave $125,000 worth of food to a charity, according to an estimate by The Wall Street Journal. Then they spent well over $21 million telling people about it. I guess, when you sell a deadly, addictive product, you need all the good PR you can get."
    • Oversimplifications aside, which one is Google? The visionary? Or the profiteer?

      False dichotomy. Nothing prevents anyone from being both a visionary and a profiteer.

      -jcr
    • Oversimplifications aside, which one is Google? The visionary? Or the profiteer?

      Yes.

      Visionary profiteers is what the US was built on. Google just joins a very long list of them. Have a vision, bring it to the masses, make a pile of money. That is as American of a mentality as you can get.
    • Oversimplifications aside, which one is Google? The visionary? Or the profiteer?

      Overlooking the fact that forcing the definition to be one or the other IS an oversimplification, I would have to say that Google is the profiteer, but not in the traditional sense of the word.

      Google will certainly be making money off of this archive, in the form of AdWords revenue, but, in contrast with Ben Franklin's social library, it will cost the end user nothing. It's as if a library were funded not by taxes, but by local
    • The left used to view taxes as a drain on the working man? Rich guys used to use their money to buy libraries instead of stupid hot air balloons? Maybe there is something to the term "good old days" after all. If you tell me they didn't have Microsoft Windows back then, I'm going to cry.
    • A quote from I, ROBOT went like this.. "And I suppose you would have shut down the internet to keep public libraries open" and to me it means nothing is absolute, but replaced by better things as time goes on.

      The internet is a great big public library to a point. Maybe there should be some online libraries like nyc.publiclibrary.com where you can browse through what they have in their digital library. Each having different sets of books but ultimately being searchable through publiclibrary.com/.org so you c
  • National Archives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msbsod ( 574856 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:25PM (#14796051)
    Why can't the National Archives provide this service? I would like to see public property in the hand of the public.

    How about productions by PBS and NPR? Where are their digital archives?
    • why?...because I (the tax payer) don't have to pay google to host the archives.
      Besides, do you really want a (partially) government-funded entity managing the storage and presentation of its own history?
      • Besides, do you really want a (partially) government-funded entity managing the storage and presentation of its own history?
        What do you think the National Archives does?
    • by harryk ( 17509 ) <harryk20022002&yahoo,com> on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:38PM (#14796170) Homepage
      For the same reason that not all jails are run by the government, infrastructure. Google may be able to do it cheaper (possibly free to the government?) as opposed to having the National Archives (sic) do it themselves. It costs time, money, and a ton of resources I'd imagine to transfer this type of material. Now, wether or not Google tries to profit from this archive is another story. Based on the content, I don't think it would be possible to profit from it, except perhaps by licensing the database of the archived material to some vendor that wanted to build a search tool .. or something ... but I'm rambling.

      Jails (quite a number of them) can, and usually are, be privately run. Just like in the IT world were services are outsourced. I'm sure Google is charging someone for this, it just better not be the public, atleast not directly.

      just my 2cents.
    • Why can't the National Archives provide this service? I would like to see public property in the hand of the public.

      They would need their funding beefed up and let's face it, Google is flush with cash and already has the technical resources. Mind you, I'm not necessarily in favor of a publically-traded corporation having unfettered access to the materials therein, but if it allows the public access to a treasure trove of historical information, I'm all for it.

      How about productions by PBS and NPR? Where

    • Why can't the National Archives provide this service? I would like to see public property in the hand of the public.


      because if it was in the hand of the public, they'll either be reimbursed through taxes (higher taxes for everyone) or charge a service fee if you want to use it.
    • Re:National Archives (Score:2, Informative)

      by tddoog ( 900095 )
      No thank you. It costs $0.20 to make a copy or $180/hour for copy of video footage at the Library of Congress. I welcome the Google service and I hope they make millions on it.
  • Will this lead to the administration reclassifying more documents, or at a greater rate in order to prevent their global dissemination? BBC Story on Reclassification. [bbc.co.uk] There is some legitimate concern that having all those documents so readily available can pose a problem. I am less concerned about someone coming to city hall and looking at tax records than I am with universal availability of the same information online, and in a readily searchable form. I generally land squarely on the more access side,

  • >this is definitely a great step towards making sure that our history is not lost

    possibly.. it could also be a lesson in data formats if the material is as volumnous as i think it is.. i've got a 10 year old cd of some dragonball z fansubs in some old divx(3.11aplha?) w/ a hacked audio codec.. it's tough to play those anymore.. silly extreme example, but for a more serious one, look at old software and the need for emulation.

    if i were trying to sell a video codec, i would be begging for google to use min
  • Does this mean that this is the one service Google won't censor in China?
  • Are they going to digitize stuff that is than reclassified [slashdot.org] and will they KEEP it digitized, or will they fall to the pressures of the CIA?
    • No, if it is classified they will undigitize it, instantly reverting all copies to analog media. The bytes will jump off your hard drive, and turn into an 8mm tape. Warning: This could cause problems if there is not space in your system for an 8mm tape. Laptop owners beware.
  • by toby ( 759 ) * on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:51PM (#14796298) Homepage Journal
    I applaud this initiative very loudly and long. So few people seem to understand that this is part of the web's mission. Let's hope Google succeeds where the BBC's grand plan [bbc.co.uk] to share their UK public-owned radio and TV archive seems to have stalled [bbc.co.uk] (100 clips in 2 years?) - although they are giving the world some top-notch video processing software [bbc.co.uk] in the process.

    Here's my favourite line from that page:

    For the BBC, open source software development is an extension of our Public Service remit.

    You can't get less evil than that.

    From the BBC's announcement in August 2003:

    The service, the BBC Creative Archive, would be free and available to everyone, as long as they were not intending to use the material for commercial purposes, Mr Dyke added.

    "The BBC probably has the best television library in the world," said Mr Dyke, who was speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

    "Up until now this huge resource has remained locked up, inaccessible to the public because there hasn't been an effective mechanism for distribution.

    "But the digital revolution and broadband are changing all that.

    "For the first time there is an easy and affordable way of making this treasure trove of BBC content available to all."

    He predicted that everyone would benefit from the online archive, from people accessing the internet at home, children and adults using public libraries, to students at school and university.

  • Think of it: if Wikipedia can function as a distributed encyclopedia maintained by self-interested parties, why not do the same with search-engine technology? This would eliminate central control, and fears that "the man" could rewrite digital history.

    The name "Gnuugle" sort of conveys the idea: a distributed-index commons, if you will. Of course, others are possible -- maybe "Woogle"?
  • Do you think 1989's Tienanmen Square assault footage will be streamable from inside the great firewall of China?
  • Great! (Score:2, Funny)

    by ecuador_gr ( 944749 )
    It' really great news that "The History Of The World" will be universally accessible. If enough people watch it and apreciate it, maybe Mel Brooks will consider shooting Part II!
  • The video you requested no matter what it was or how old, has been reclassified in the interest of National Security.
  • I watched the moon landing video from the link and it looked horrible. It was blocky, grainy, low-res and filled with compression artifacts. Does anyone know if Google plans on making higher quality video available in the future? I Google is archiving this stuff at a higher resolution and a much higher optical density, especially when doing high contrast space films.
  • Doing the USA National Archives is great. But the real challenge is digitizing the Library of Congress. I fear that a lot of the mid-level literature of the 'greatest generation' will be lost because of the Mickey Mouse copyright law. If the copyright starts roughly around 1925 and continues indefinitely due to roll-over extensions, then the books printed from 1925 through about 1995 will be locked up and possibly lost forever.
    No one will risk being sent to gitmo for copyright by republish

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