Here’s some nice news. Kalev Leetaru has been liberating a ton of public domain images from books and putting them all on Flickr. He’s been going through Internet Archive scans of old, public domain books, isolating the images, and turning them into individual images. Because, while the books and images are all public domain, very few of the images have been separated from the books and released in a digital format.
To achieve his goal, Mr Leetaru wrote his own software to work around the way the books had originally been digitised.
The Internet Archive had used an optical character recognition (OCR) program to analyse each of its 600 million scanned pages in order to convert the image of each word into searchable text.
As part of the process, the software recognised which parts of a page were pictures in order to discard them. Read the rest of this entry »
Joshua David Stein writes: The letter E, an influential vowel and one of the most frequently used letters in the English language, died yesterday. It was 2,800 years old.
The cause was obsolescence in the face of emerging technology, said the letter’s next of kin, the letter F.
Long considered one of the most influential letters in the Roman alphabet, at the turn of the century E had originally been heralded as the signal letter in the digital world. But in recent years, the letter had suffered a series of debilitating setbacks that closely correlated with the rise of online applications. It died May 20, 2013.
As recently as 1998, the letter was voted both “Word of the Year” and “Most Likely to Succeed” by the American Dialect Society. (It narrowly defeated the phrase “sexual relations” by a vote of 31 to 28.) In awarding the distinction, the organization noted the letter’s prolific role in words describing burgeoning online technology like e-mail, e-commerce, and e-tailing.
But in 2004, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake founded Flickr, a photograph-sharing application, without the standard penultimate E. “The most compelling reason to remove the E,” explained Ms. Fake, “was that we were unable to acquire the domain Flicker.com … The rest of the team were more in favor of other options, such as ‘FlickerIt’ or ‘FlickerUp’ but somehow, through persuasion or arm-twisting, I prevailed.” It was good news for the company but bad news for the letter. A year later, the company was acquired by Yahoo for $35 million.
Apollo 17 and a piece of space history.
APOLLO 17 : The voyage of Apollo 17 marked the program’s concluding expedition to the moon. The mission lifted off after midnight on Dec. 7, 1972 from Kennedy Space Center and touched down on the lunar surface on Dec. 11. The crew spent almost 75 hours on the lunar surface, conducted nearly 22 hours of extravehicular activities (EVAs), and traveled almost 19 miles in the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). During lunar lift-off on Dec. 14, Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene A. Cernan remarked that the astronauts were leaving as they came, “with peace and hope for all mankind.” In this photo, taken during the second EVA on Dec. 12, 1972, Cernan is standing near the lunar rover designed by Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC
Katy Meyers from Bones Don’t Lie commented on Music for the Dead: $30,000 coffin that plays fave tunes and included a link to this little gem. I liked it so much I’m including the whole thing. Check out Katy’s blog, Bones Don’t Lie, for more buried treasure. — The Butcher
The dead are treated and remembered in a range of ways from a simple burial in the old family graveyard to more epic modern treatments like being cremated and shot into outer space. How we interact with our deceased and what occurs during mourning are determined by a range of social, religious, political and personal determinants. As I discussed on Tuesday, the choice to cremate or not was highly dependent on a range of factors, and changed over time with broader social processes. The way your body is treated can also be dependent on where you die, such as the necessity to eviscerate, excarnate or exhume the bodies of the 19th century German elite when they died far away from home or during periods of political instability. It also matters who you are, such as the political leader Mao Zedong who strongly argued for cremation but at his death was embalmed and preserved to be placed on display. Throughout history there have been interesting ways that the dead are treated, and today that is still a reality. Read the rest of this entry »