Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Google and Life magazine

Google has started to digitise and make available online the Life photo archive. This means according to the site that people can "search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today." Many of the images were never published and at the moment about 20% of the collection is available but the aim of the project is to make about 10 millions photos available in the next few months.

Archivist Lawrence D. Gurrin examining unidentified text.

My reaction to this was very much in the vein of 'oh, how interesting' but it did raise some interesting issues on the Records Management listserve. Some people asked whether digitising these images will mean that they are looked at any more and whether there was a danger of digitising just because we can.

What do you think? My view on this is 'why not?' Google obviously have the resources to do this and it makes what seems to be an excellent collection of images available very easily and I think it will become a great resource. I'd like to see some kind of user tagging function, at the moment you can only rate the images but this might follow.

Personally, I was a little disappointed with the response that this project got from some of the RM community, but maybe I'm overly enthusiastic about this type of thing. As a profession do you think that we have a tendency to be pessimistic about digital projects and struggle to see the point of them?


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