Museums & the Web is very big this year. There must be nearly 1000 people here and there is a good buzz in between sessions.
Today opened with an entertaining and motivational opening plenary from Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive. Kahle talked about the Internet Archive disucssing the various types of media it is digitising and making openly accessible, for free, using open standards. The big stumbling block is rights.
Starting with books he gave some interesting figures on digitisation costs. The archive is scanning 12,000 books per month over three locations (USA, Canada and the UK). It costs about $0.10 per page to do scanning, OCR, PDFing, file transfer and permanent storage (forever). Distribution problems are being solved by print on demand which costs as little as $0.01 per page and is being rolled out through mobile digital book buses in Uganda, India and China with print on demand. Kahle handed around some samples of the print on demand titles and they were of acceptable quality and had proper covers. He also handed around one of the 300 prototype $100 laptops from MIT which was pretty cool with a great hi-res screen which makes the concept of a low-cost, developing-world-friendly e-book reader viable.
Audio recordings are costing $10 per CD or roughly $10 per hour of recording. Internet Archive will host forever, and for free. Video recordings are slightly more at $15 per hour. They have also been recording broadcast television, 20 channels worldwide, 24/7. Only one week is available online so far – that of 9/11. They have also started on software archiving but are stymied by the DMCA.
The Wayback Machine (web archive) is snapshotting every two months at 100 terrabytes of storage per snapshot. Interestingly he quoted the average webpage changes or is deleted every 100 days making regular archiving critical.
Kahle emphasised the importance of public institutions doing digitisation in open formats rather than the exclusivity of GoogleBooks deals. His catchall warning for museums was “public or perish” which is a great start to the conference.