Archive for May, 2008

Books for Twits

In listening to the latest episode of This Week in Tech, I was at first horrified that I would not get my normal weekly dose of half-arsed, funny but still very informative insights into the world of tech and Web 2.0. The tone was serious! Well, I still clung on, and in many ways this must have been one of the more interesting Twits in a long while.

Joining the regulars, this time Leo (of course) and Dvorak (.org/blog…) was the able hands of Denise Howell of This Week in Law fame; and a special guest: Brewster Kahle. Who is he? He’s none other than the guy behind archive.org and as such one of the first persons with foresight enough to realise that not all things are printed anymore, and what that will mean for the possibilities of future research.

Anyway, this time around the round table concerned among other things the FBI screwing up in their dealings with archive.org; dealings it’s very doubtful if they should have commenced with to begin with. But the really tasty bit was the scanning and distribution of printed works over the Internet. Archive.org have in conjunction with such big shots as Microsoft and Yahoo! scanned thousands of books and published them for free on the Internet. Now, recently MS and the big Y decided to pull out, but the project will go on as a public service instead. (Nothing but kudos to MS and Y in spite, they poured millions into a project that they from a business perspective shouldn’t have undertaken in the first place.)

And this is where it starts to get interesting for the rest of us. Where are the European initiatives to something of this kind? We, collectively, own some of the finest historical collections in the world in everything from books and manuscripts to records and art. Why is this not on archive.org or similar services? Why, since a lot of our stuff is owned and produced by the public, can’t the public get at it in a user friendly and informative way? Mind you, the few euro efforts you sometimes find often have a very tangy googlesk feel to them, meaning ugly and not very useful. (As we all know, Google Books is nothing short of a cruel joke on humanity.) But just think of the possibilities, the combined history of Europe (this is from a Euro perspective, but obviously other parts of the world would benefit from the same thing) all tagged and searchable on the Internet. It’s a wet dream for me as a historian.

Of course you already can get a lot of stuff via, for instance, archive.org and the fairly new project Open Library, but there is one snag: what’s on there is predominantly in English. As a Scandinavian I might find that of little or no use depending on what I am looking for. So, to concentrate on my neck of the woods, I urge the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland to digitise books in the same general fashion as archive.org. Preferably add it to archive.org for free while you’re at it! It is a shame that we, as some of the most technological nations in the world, seem to have completely abandon our history just because it’s not in MS Word format. This needs to stop now! Our children, nay the world, deserves it. Otherwise, we will get a truly horrible generation; and we will thoroughly deserve…

For books are more than books, they are the life
The very heart and core of ages past,
The reason why men lived and worked and died,
The essence and quintessence of their lives. – Amy Lowell

Thobias

P.s. To show what can be done with these scans, I want to ask you to have a look at this Cinderella, or this edition of Alice in Wonderland. Both are with archive.org, but the latter found via Open Library. They are beautiful and nothing short of fantastic!

The Twilit Theatre presents: Horror Express (1973)

In a continuing theme of testing different things with wordpress, I decided to take VodPod for a spin. This is because, while I do like the blogging system that is wordpress, I find it extremely annoying that you can’t post Flash nor JavaScript. To a certain extent this is alleviated by VodPod. It’s a service that allows you to post just about any embedded flash video to your blog.

For this test I have chosen to do a screening of a Hammer-style horror film called Horror Express. It’s from 1973 and stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and it is directed by Eugenio Martín. (Also see the Wikipedia entry.)

Plot (from IMDb): 

An English anthropologist (Christopher Lee) has discovered a frozen monster in the frozen wastes of Manchuria which he believes may be the Missing Link. He brings the creature back to Europe aboard a trans-Siberian express, but during the trip the monster thaws out and starts to butcher the passengers one by one.

It gets a 6.3 rating at IMDb, and I am looking forward to my own first screening, along with you, dear reader. Shall we?

 

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.archive.org posted with vodpod

 

Inspector Mirov: The two of you together. That’s fine. But what if one of you is the monster?

Dr. Wells: Monster?? We’re British, you know!

Thobias

Movie courtesy of the Internet Archive.
Addendum: For some reason it isn’t working as it should. It works over on VodPod, 
it works on Archive.org, but why, oh why, does it refuse to work here? Any ideas?
Update: after having been in contact with the excellent people at VodPod, I now know that they do have problems concerning Archive.org. Hopefully this will be resolved in the future. In the mean time, enjoy movies directly at the archive, or via the Twilit Theatre Pod!

This is for you, Mum!

Ok, I know it’s not mother’s day (in Sweden) until this Sunday. But, I found this today and if I do not act now, I’ll forget. And to everyone else: no, the TwilightShadows is not turning into another Cuteoverload.com, this is just for my mum. She adores Scottish Folds!

Happy Mother’s Day mum! I love you.

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.  ~Spanish Proverb

Thobias

Musical tests

This is just a test to see how I can incorporate music and other media links to blog posts here on the Twilight. I hope you enjoy this Open Source Audio from the Internet Archive: Cry of the Celts.

May the road rise up to meet you!

Thobias

A few updates

As you may have noted by now, I’ve been tinkering with the visuals of the site. Well, those things I can do with a free account. Anyway, I’ve added some endorsements, some links and a credits space. Just so you can check out stuff I like.

There is also the new TwilightShadows wiki at zoho.com, which I will be expanding as we go along. It is in its infancy right now, and I’m not sure what will come of it, but something will, I’m sure.

Well, that’s it for this short update.

The Owl of Minerva flys in the TwilightShadows

Thobias

Yes, Master!

I just wanted to share the trailer for a movie that seems to be the animated Halloween movie of the year: Igor. Let’s hope it’s any good. After all it has John Cusack, Steve Buscemi and John Cleese as voice actors. (Yes, that’s a good thing…)

Pull the switch!Yeth, mathter!

Thobias

La Lynch de Lumière?

I am still undecided whether I am a fan of David Lynch or not, though I certainly dig some of his stuff. But this was quite beautiful and interesting I thought. It is Lynches contribution to a compilation made in the mid 90’s. Everyone had to only use the original Cinematographe invented by the Lumière Brothers and techniques therefore.

There were three rules: (1) The film could be no longer than 52 seconds, (2) no synchronized sound was permitted, and (3) no more than three takes. Remember while watching that all the effects are in-camera and there is no cutting for scenes.

So watch it and enjoy!

Thobias