Tuesday, March 2, 2010

closAR does Beeld & Geluid

Last Wednesday, the team paid a visit to the Beeld & Geluid (B&G) Institute to taste the kid's menu (the Experience) and perused the kitchen pantry (the Archive).

It was an interesting dichotomy of activity. The above-ground level was swarmed with little children, while the layers underneath were deserted.

the Experience in a glance

We were given RFID rings to collect and "interact" with the exhibitions upstairs. The most engrossing exhibitions were ones in which you could put yourself into them. Hopeful, starry glints in the eyes of a child broadcaster reading off the teleprompter. Touch screens were out the wazoo. Nostalgic artifacts (record players, tvs) were also displayed in glass cases. (The eternal torment of look, but no touch.)

the Archive in a glance

Johan also showed us part of the way down the canyon. Because material automatically comes from the broadcasting companies (with metadata!), the archive is actually quite dynamic. If something is shown in the morning, the archive will be accessed in the afternoon to use the same clip. However this access is electronic - they have direct taps into the B&G system. This means that only rare material will prompt someone to physically go to the archive. As program makers are the majority of the archive's users, a comparatively empty vault is the result.

A quick search for a Sven Kramer clip returned an extensive transcript and also the possibility to search the video by thumbnails. When there is just one voice, software can reliably convert speech into text, and guess the topic. An interesting study they performed was to compare a person's initial search with what s/he eventually left with, helping B&G to revise relevant information for an entry.

A few issues include figuring out what is the "most valuable" to digitize, managing the industry standards that may not be the best for preservation, and thinking ahead to the future of the archival services when video has become YouTube-able.

Interesting fact: the digital is quite fragile. B&W film can last to 400 years, while CDs fade in 15.

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