Digital Library Blog

#ethics @ #webarc15

Questions of ethics at Web Archives 2015

December 17, 2015
by Nicholas Taylor

A welcome complement to the lately growing number of web archiving-specific events, the inaugural Web Archives: Capture, Curate, Analyze conference (tweet stream) brought together an eclectic crowd of researchers, instructors, students, archivists, librarians, developers, and others interested in web archiving. A novel mixture of institutions was also represented - some active principally through IIPC, many more associated with the SAA Web Archiving Roundtable and/or Archive-It Partner communities, and still others who I'd not yet encountered in these more established, practitioner-centric fora.

Echoing the sentiments of other participants, I was impressed and inspired both by the diversity of perspectives and the excitement for moving web archiving forward. As befitting such a group, the schedule and hallway conversations crossed a wide array of topics. Running through it all, though, questions of ethics seemed to be a persistent subject. I'll highlight three areas of ethical concern that stood out for me.

SearchWorks enhancements: Requests, Government Documents, and more

December 14, 2015
by J Vine

You may have noticed some changes in SearchWorks over the past several weeks. We've been working on a list of features prioritized by the SearchWorks Steering Committee and user feedback: new Requests forms, a Government Documents access point, better discovery and display of digital content, new items feed, and more email options.

Here's an end-of-year wrap-up and a look at what's still to come in 2016.

logo graphic appearing on the "WorldWideWeb SLAC Home Page" in 1993

Browsing the ancient Web with an ancient browser

December 9, 2015
by Nicholas Taylor

The world's first websites were built for very different rendering and navigation interfaces than the comparatively advanced browsers available today. Thanks to the work of web archivists (e.g., CERN, SLAC), we can celebrate the incongruity of accessing some of these ancient websites using modern browsers. While a traditional goal of web archiving has been to preserve the "canonical" user experience of a website, this has been persistently impaired by (among other challenges) accessing web archives using software other than would've been available at the time content was archived.

SDR Deposit of the Week: Oral history interview with John Chowning

On September 2nd, 2015, I had the great privilege of conducting an oral history interview with John Chowning, Professor Emeritus at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). Chowning, a pioneer in the world of computer music, is perhaps best known as the inventor of Frequency Modulation (FM) synthesis. His discovery was eventually licensed to Yamaha who integrated it into a number of instruments, most importantly, the DX7, the world’s first mass-produced digital synthesizer, released in 1983. The DX7 is generally regarded as one of the most important musical instrument inventions of the past 50 years, and was widely adopted by artists across multiple genres in the 1980s. My interview with Chowning is now available via the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). Chowning and I principally sat down to discuss Leon Theremin’s visit to Stanford in 1991, which Chowning organized and oversaw. Stanford University Libraries recently digitize video footage of this visit which included a day long symposium at CCRMA and an evening concert in Frost Amphiteatre at which Theremin, Max Mathews, and many other notable figures from the world of electronic and computer music at the time performed. However, Professor Chowning and I also discussed additional topics including Chowning's background in computer music, his history at Stanford and the inception of CCRMA, and his close personal and professional relationship with Max Mathews. 

A portion of the article accompany the William Smith Map in Turun Sanomat newspaper

The William Smith Map in a Finnish Newspaper

December 2, 2015
by G. Salim Mohammed

In today's mail, the newspaper arrived. It wasn't the San Francisco Chronicle on the San Jose Mercury News though. It was a copy of the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, published in Turku, Finland. It wasn't until I turned to page 15 that I recognized something - a reproduction of the 1815 William Smith Map that we had scanned. William Smith published a map of Geology of what is now a good part of the UK, and earlier this year, we, along with the British Geological Society, celebrated 200 years since its publication. The map and article, all in Finnish of course, presumeably talks about the story of the man and how William Smith single-handedly authored and published this map. The newspaper used our scan both in the paper version and also in their online version. 

Ōmi Kuni-ezu 近江國絵圖 Japanese Tax Map, 1837

Adventures in oversized imaging: digitizing the Ōmi Kuni-ezu 近江國絵圖 Japanese Tax Map from 1837

November 17, 2015
by Deardra Fuzzell

By Deardra Fuzzell and Wayne Vanderkuil
A historic manuscript map and a gem of the Stanford Library Map Collection, the Ōmi Kuni-ezu 近江國絵圖 Japanese Tax Map from 1837 is hand drawn and painted in the round. This map is designed to be displayed on the floor with the viewer standing in its center. From this central vantage point, the map may be read with ease from any direction. As this display and viewing method is no longer possible for a map fast approaching its 200th birthday, Stanford has recently digitized this item to enable access for research, teaching and learning as well as preservation of the original object.

This the largest and most difficult oversized map Stanford has digitized thus far.
See how the Map Program went about imaging this unique item.

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