His devotion to old newspaper archives leads me to ask: How could vital records and other paper archives at the municipal level be digitized and indexed? What are the technical and legal considerations for such a project?
The typical business model is for a company to digitize the ones somebody might want to look at someday and offer online access.
> What are the technical and legal considerations for such a project?
Legal: more than can be articulated here, but the FCRA is sort of the big one that covers much more than you'd think. Technical: buy a scanner or two.
Another issue for indexing: 18th, 19th and early 20th century handwriting styles. Many clerks had good handwriting, but with lots of variation in style, written over printed templates (marriage certificates, property and tax records, etc). How good are modern OCR technologies recognizing variations in handwriting?
You can digitize the documents with OCR (or by hand) and process them with a level of precision great enough that you can archive or destroy the original documents and just print out a new document when you need it. One example would be the states that no longer issue a "real" birth certificate and just print one out on official letterhead when there is a demand.
You can index the documents and stuff them in the basement, which is pretty much the default for many county records. The computer is basically equivalent to a card catalog in that case. The database might very well be a scanned card catalog...
You can make a nice, pretty, OCR-enabled picture of the original document and store it on a database. Searchability can vary.
Things like signatures and cursive writing will often just need to be interpreted by a human during the process of digitization. If such records aren't important enough to justify a few minutes of someone's time, they might not ever be digitized.
There's a lot of variance here. A state agency like a Department of Motor Vehicles has a strong motivation to make things more efficient and the advantage that none of the records are really ancient. A county clerk in a poor, rural county has completely different resources and needs.
2. OCR still isn't even 100% accurate for printed text. Handwritten text accuracy is worse. Cursive is even less accurate.
I'm reluctant to share it online because I'm scared about copyright.
That being said, the paper have usually long since went under and the copyrights will never be asserted. In the extremely unlikely case they will be (for example, if the paper is still in circulation), a free online archive with no advertisements falls squarely under fair use, given the immense historical value of old papers and their nil current commercial value.
"He has, on occasion, been approached by companies looking to partner with him or purchase licenses to his archives. He’s turned them all down, including one offer for half a million dollars.
“I knew [my collection] would ultimately be charged for,” Tryniski says nonchalantly, explaining why he declined the offer—for most people, an enormous sum of money. “I really didn’t like the idea of charging a guy to use my site, and then for them to take the biggest profit."
I assume the operation used a Russian server because of the copyright issue.
Documents that do need physical presentation can always be reacquired, but there's only a handful of those, easy to put them all in an envelope and stow 'em.
I knew that a while back drum scanners were the ultimate for scanning large documents/artworks. I wonder if now they're doing image stitching with cameras?
Drum scanners were always the ne plus ultra when it came to scanning film, particularly large format film like 4x5 negatives. But as CMOS sensors have gotten better, the advantage has diminished (the design of drum scanners was driven by PMTs and later, linear CCDs), and I don't know if even 4x5 format photographers are bothering anymore. They are a real pain to work with, especially the ones that required a "wet mount" of the negative. Historical negatives were never a good match for them.
It's nice that the advancements in the consumer market have made it much easier for archivists doing copy stand work.
Huge respect for not selling.
Anyone know of more examples?
I hate to pull politics into stuff like this but I always thought one of the massive unforeseen benefits of a basic minimum income would be an explosion of these types of "labors of love".
A certain demographic was singled out and provided with a guaranteed income for the rest of their lives. As expected many of them just sat alone in their apartments taking drugs and watching the tube. Many, though, went out socialized, volunteered, and generally made their community better. Some even did as Tom here, finding a passion that benefited others and dedicating themselves to it.
All in all, the study is succeeding. Its called "social security".
If only we could have such people elected for president.
The video you linked was uploaded in 2016, certainly long after he started monetizing his videos. The title doesn't seem to be aimed at sharing information with future generations. The title is vague and non-descriptive. It's in all caps and clickbaity. The title is nearly the same as this over video of his which is about a completely different event. Many of his other videos have vague clickbaity titles and thumbnails, sometimes the titles are misleading.
I've watched a vast majority of his videos. Some of his videos date back in early 2000s as well, during times he did work for local political campaigns
His motivation is making a living doing what he enjoys doing, which is telling stories. He's said that many times over already. Youtube was his way of bridging his experiences from cinematic private production in hollywood and bringing it to the masses so everyone can enjoy it. 368 is just his next brainchild after the downfall of beme
I do hope his material is free to be stored on Archive.org at least? Or perhaps even his entire website. It would be terrible if this resource would disappear
I am concerned that this entire effort is one sloppy-street-crossing or one house fire away from being gone forever.
He's scanning the product of the New York State Newspaper Project, which is/was a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1982-2010 and the New York State Library/Archives. That project got access to these old newspapers, scanned the paper to microfilm, etc. That required alot of time and money.
Tom does a cool thing, but he's utilizing the work product of the government, mostly using the library system to provide him with the films at little or no cost, and will almost certainly sell the collection either himself when he needs to or via his estate.
Meanwhile, the microfilms will be around for hundreds of years.
We reject: kings, presidents and voting.
We believe in: rough consensus and running code.
He's doing a better job making the output of a government project accessible to the project, but except where he is actually scanning the paper newsprint itself, he is building on the work of others, much of it taxpayer-funded. Credit where credit is due.
Govt not that great at quickly getting something done.
Govt IS pretty good at keeping on doing something though. That can be an underrated benefit of govt.
Distrust of the public sector leads to excessive accountability requirements that often take up a large fraction of the project cost, maybe even more than half.
Edit: just noticed the use of jAlbum for the gallery. Just adding +1 to nostalgia :)
This guy serves tens of thousands of pages of his master piece book called Gea, and even makes his own bizarre old style renderings and animations to go with it.
A recent rendering of his muse, Ky:
EDIT: His donation page is here: http://fultonhistory.com/Donation%20paypal.html
Wikipedia reports she left 71,716 VHS tapes of news recordings. The Internet Archive is on it.
Like, is it really the point of his project ? Are his views expressed anywhere in his archives ? Why be so judgmental ?!
I don't read it as trying to push an agenda (which I suspect the author believes is shared by her readers) but to explore the tensions between America's tradition of a viciously partisan press and its 20th Century ethic of studied neutrality, and of tensions between the press as abstract apple-pie-and-motherhood and distrust of actual publications (the archivist's selection of Fox over other media, and the observation that even in their heyday there was commercial pressure for small town press not to do investigative reporting).
If you find arguments about the state of the press distasteful I can see why you wouldn't like the last section. But I found it quite interesting.
Like many people entranced by the right wing message, he doesn’t realize what it really means. (ie, library budgets are always a target, which would mean no library network or librarians to get microfilm from, etc)
If you’re a student of journalism or archiving, it is probably very difficult to understand this gentleman’s position.
Some years ago I did a course on magazine journalism. You get taught to look for the human angle when writing a piece, and to find a "hook" for your article that relates it to current events. This was just a journalist doing that.
We are out there on r/DataHoarder, and on some obscure trackers like Myspleen. I hope that when I'm older I can preserve some history stuff as well for the greater good.
If he had volunteer helpers and a foundation he could will money to help them keep it going.