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HOW CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS ARE BENEFITING FROM DIGITIZATION OF PHOTO ARCHIVES

HOW CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS ARE BENEFITING FROM DIGITIZATION OF PHOTO ARCHIVES

“Today digital technology is pervasive. It is mandatory that museums, libraries, and archives join with educational institutions in embracing it.”

  • Wayne Clough, Author, Best of Both Worlds

Museums and cultural institutions are leaving no stone unturned to digitize history. Archiving photos form an integral part of documenting history. Continuing with our previous post on how cultural institutions are leveraging photo archiving, in this post, we will detail why museums and cultural institutions should leverage photo archiving.

Easy Sharing and Distribution

Unlike physical copies, scanned photos can be easily shared across multiple locations with multiple users. Easier to track electronically, it is also cost effective for researchers and curators as it eliminates the need for physical reproduction and mailing.

Prepare for Disasters

Museums and cultural institutions are not free from the risk of losing valuable content. Natural calamities like earthquakes, floods, heavy rains, or hurricanes and tsunamis have destroyed museums and libraries over the centuries, resulting in the loss of valuable content. Digitization will curb the risk of loss of valuable photographs.

Save Cost and Clutter

Maintaining physical copies of photo prints requires physical storage space and involves cost. Digitizing photos can save institutions cost that is involved in keeping physical copies and make it easier to share and reproduce.

Source of Revenue

Owners of photos of rare events and occurrences can generate a revenue stream in terms of royalty or licensing fee. Different types of models can be adopted like selling prints through your own website, third-party portals, exhibiting in galleries etc.

Tip for Successful Photo Digitization – Prioritizing Which Items to Digitize

Depending on the priority and goals, every institution shortlists the photos that need to be digitized.  Some questions that organizations need to ask before selecting the images for digitization are:

  1. Are the records unique?
  2. Do the photos appeal visually?
  3. Who will be the prospective consumer of the digitized images?
  4. Does the demand justify the cost that will be incurred to digitize the photos?
  5. Will digitization add any value to the picture?
  6. How will the institution control access to the digitized images? Will, there be any restriction or can it be accessed openly?
  7. Does the institution have the legal right to scan?
  8. What is the long-term preservation strategy of the photos being digitized?
  9. What is the metadata that will be required?

Once institutions have selected items that need to be digitized, here are some critical considerations while scanning photos.

  1. Once you have a flatbed scanner ready, set the scanner, photoshop, and the printer to the same color space – CMYK or RGB.
  2. To capture many shades of gray (which is essential especially for black and white photos), choose the right DPI. Depending on the size of the picture, DPI should be around 3000 – 4000 pixels along the length of the image.
  3. Choose the format of preservation carefully. For Masterfile, the recommended format is TIFF.
  4. Save a JPEG copy for easy distribution among researchers.
  5. To avoid damage and file loss, keep the Master copy separate from the distributed copy.

Photo/ image archivists should prioritize digitizing susceptible photos like colored photos and cellulose nitrate or films. The context of each of these photos should also be documented, and each item needs to have metatags to make them easily accessible in time of need. To know about the top six mistakes to avoid while digitizing photos, read this blog.

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence in Digitization

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence in Digitization

Digitization is a necessity today – both for restoring and making it searchable. Be it physical libraries or digital media, media organizations and content owners are investing in digitization and archiving of legacy content. Organizations often spend hours in recreating or searching for content that already exists. Aged and untreated content, discounting metadata, and not choosing the right storage solution often takes a hit on the broadcasters.

While you’re oblivious, artificial intelligence (AI) is changing this scenario. Think of personalized playlists on YouTube or Spotify or recommendations on Netflix and Amazon Prime; broadcasters are using AI to curate a selection of tailormade content.

Few weeks after Donald Trump was elected, the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive aggregated more than 520 hours of televised Trump speeches, debates, interviews, and other broadcasts way back from 2009. Thanks to the Trump Archive, the footage doesn’t get lost in the crowd of news giving journalists, scholars and citizens a chance can track and analyze Trump’s statements on public policy issues.

Netflix claims to save about US$1bn annually due to AI technology’s ability to automate workflows and reduce customer churn.

After Wimbledon 2017, IBM Watson used a cognitive algorithm to produce highlight reels of what it believed were the best shots of the tournament. By automatically analyzing audio and video from the footage to identify highlight worthy shots and points, artificial intelligence saved hundreds of manhours of editors.

Here are five ways in which artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the way we archive, process, and store documents and extract information out of it.

Automated processing

Optical character recognition can recognize texts. AI can additionally read, classify, and automate workflows based on that information in minutes. Initially fed with a set of rules, AI uses machine learning to improve its identification and processing capabilities.

Data extraction

Data extraction reaches a whole new level with AI-powered document management system, which can accurately read the information and understand the context.

Document clustering

AI can also group unclassified documents based on topics, which can help organizations understand the documents within a larger context, find resemblances, and draw conclusions that would otherwise be time-consuming or impossible.

Advanced security

Document management system powered by AI can help impose user access. By using secure biometric techniques like facial recognition to identify employees who can access the data, it can prevent unauthorized viewing or alteration of documents.

Data analytics

Cognitive platforms as a service (PaaS) like Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services and IBM Watson apply techniques like predictive analytics, machine learning, and data visualization to analyze the collected data to improve decision making.

The way ahead…

At IBC2017, for the first time, AI was one of the main themes, which speaks loads about its adoption. Recently, a company named Ripcord has patented and built robots to scan and sort a box full of paper from business cards to legal documents and enter the contents into a searchable database in the cloud. As AI adoption across industries is increasing, we can only hope to see better and faster analysis, and improved decision making across the broadcast industry.