Category Archives: News Archives

#DigitalHeritage 1-2-3: APIs, Apps & Social Media Preservation

#DigitalHeritage 1-2-3 represents news and ideas that caught my attention recently. Have any suggestions for future editions? Let me know via Twitter @heritagevoices.

1: APIs: How Machines Share and Expose Digital Collections

Finally, an explanation of APIs I can get my head around. This item from the Library of Congress blog uses examples from The World Digital Library, HathiTrust and OpenSearch to illustrate how APIs work in digital collections.

The Big Idea: “Offering an API allows other people to reuse your content in ways that you didn’t anticipate or couldn’t afford to do yourself … That’s what I would like for the library world, those things that let other people re-use your data in ways you didn’t even think about.”

The Revelation: a demo of the International Image Interoperability Framework in action as a research tool. See for yourself how to compare and annotate side-by-side digital objects from Harvard, Yale, the National Library of Wales and other participating partners.

The Strategy: Besides the API explanation, what I appreciate about this post is how LOC is using journalism practices by interviewing people who work their about their areas of expertise. A great tactic for deepening and sustaining content on an institutional blog!

2: ActionShow App Blog on Mobile Tours

For all the years I’ve worked in cultural heritage, there seems to always be one more tour app provider I never heard of. ActionShow is the latest. And though their blog looks a little spammy at first (and indeed, does sell a product), it hosts some good, clear-eyed analysis of the issues.

The post that drew me to the site was Who Wins? Mobile Apps vs. Mobile-Friendly Websites. The topics are a virtual FAQ for cultural heritage sites considering such a tool (i.e. all of them): how much does it cost, which is easier to use, what if you have inconsistent wi-fi, etc. Use them as a guide on the issues; just keep in mind they have an app service to sell.

Here’s a useful graph on their site I’m embedding from the post Custom Built Apps versus Platform Apps:

Tour Guide App Comparison

3: Preserving Social Media Tech Watch Report

This came by Twitter:

If you haven’t been to visit the Digital Preservation Coalition’s Technology Watch Report page, now’s the time to discover it. DPC has published a 42-page “Preserving Social Media” report that should have a lot of cultural institutions thinking about why they aren’t preserving this growing part of their legacy. One reason is that it’s very hard, with rapidly shifting targets of technology, platforms and service agreements.

The Big Idea from this report (for now): “…the preservation of social media may best be undertaken by a large, centralized provider, or a few large centralized providers, rather than linking smaller datasets or collections from many different institutions.”

The Revelation: The North Carolina State University, Social Media Archives Toolkit is “a freely available web-based documentary toolkit that publicly documents our own effort to develop a sophisticated social media archival program in a way that may help guide cultural heritage organizations that are interested in collecting and curating social media content.”

Due to the complexity of these issues, it looks like we’re heading down a road where the archives profession will be start turning out specialists to deal with this ever-shifting landscape.


That’s it for today’s #digitalheritage stories. Feel free contribute your thoughts for a future edition through the comments, Twitter or email.


How do you use the web to communicate heritage? Take the questionnaire!

1507585665_f58d1b40f9Throughout the world, people are connecting about heritage preservation issues on an unprecedented level. One of the ways they are doing this is through “social media,” the term applied to online tools that inspire conversation and interaction. These tools are generally both easy to use and free.

The web address below will take you to ten questions regarding how you use the web and your perceptions of how social media may be used to improve the work of those involved in heritage professions. This anonymous questionnaire is one part of an ongoing study on the topic. This is an open link, so please feel free to forward copies to your colleagues.

Thank you in advance for taking 5-10 minutes out of your day to participate. Your feedback will help evaluate information and training needs for these topics in the context of heritage preservation. The questionnaire will be active through the end of 2009 and results will be shared through a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Dom Dada on Flickr

Cultural Heritage Roundup: Mardi Gras Shipwreck, Shakespeare on pottery, and another National Register property is lost to fire

According to the Block Island Times, on Saturday, March 7 a historic home on Block Island was destroyed by fire. The one-story cottage from 1840, now owned by Eugene Rankin, had been built by Jeremiah Allen. The building would have been eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, but the suspected electrical fire resulted in the loss of an important piece of Block Island’s architectural heritage.

According to the Times-Picayune, discovery continues on a ship that was sunk nearly 200 years ago in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship was rediscovered in 2002, about 35 miles from Louisiana’s coast. Although neither skeletal remains nor the name of the ship have been discovered, several artifacts from the shipwreck (including a telescope, swords, hourglasses, and a stove) are currently being studied by archeologists. Texas A&M’s Department of Oceanography and Nautical Archaeology Program worked with Materials Management Services in 2007 to recover the artifacts. The wreckage may be the remains of a ship which capsized during the War of 1812, after being chased by a British ship in the Gulf. The information seems to fit although it has not yet been verified. Because the mystery ship was found near the Mardi Gras Transmission System, it has come to be called the “Mardi Gras shipwreck.” For pictures and more information, see the Mardi Gras Shipwreck page.

At an excavation in Shoreditch, east London, near the site where Shakespeare once acted and staged his first plays at The Theatre, a piece of 16th century pottery was discovered with what appears to be the face of Shakespeare upon it. Although there is no proof that the face depicted is actually Shakespeare’s, archeologists are excited by the find. Read more about the pottery found at Guardian or discovery of the theater at TimesOnline or Telegraph.

Photo courtesy of LAARCmanager on Flickr.

Mapping the Trail of Tears in Illinois, Yakima buildings endangered, and MySurveyLA launches

According to The, WSIU Public Broadcasting will use their grant from PBS and WGBH Boston to host community events designed to emphasize the Native history and culture in Southern Illinois. Events will include a traveling “Mapping the Trail of Tears in Southern Illinois” exhibit, archeologist Mark Wagner’s presentation on Native American art, and craft workshops in which residents can help make a commemorative quilt depicting the Native American experience in Southern Illinois.

Yakima, Washington’s A Street buildings are facing inevitable destruction. Despite preservationists’ attempts to save the structures (which they have argued are valuable to the community), no private investors are willing to pay the $1.6 million it would cost to renovate the area. Without buyers for the buildings, the Yakima County Commissioners approved the demolition contract for $125,000. Read more about the issue at KNDO and the Yakima Herald. writes about MYSurveyLA – Preserving Los Angeles, a day-long event that which be held April 4. Los Angeles residents are invited to tell about important places in their neighborhood or city. Survey teams will use this information to identify historic sites and develop a comprehensive preservation program for the city. There will also be screenings of SurveyLA: Preserving Los Angeles throughout the day and a panel discussion about city issues with city officials and preservationists. Learn more about the event at SurveyLA.

Thumbnail photo by Reznicek111 on Flickr

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Salazar Helps Re-Open Ford’s Theater, Cites the Importance of Site to President Obama and Nation

Ford's Theater

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today joined
leaders of the Ford’s Theater Society, the National Park Service and the
District of Columbia at a press conference and ribbon-cutting to re-open
Ford’s Theatre after its 18-month renovation. The event initiated the
celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln.

“I’d like to think that the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln is here
with us today to celebrate not only his 200th birthday but the re-opening
of Ford’s Theater,” Secretary Salazar said at the ribbon-cutting. “I think
he would have liked to experience how a wonderful partnership has brought
this theater and its educational programs into the 21st century.”

Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, the place where President Lincoln
was assassinated, is managed through a partnership between Interior’s NPS
and the society to provide theater productions and educational programs
about Lincoln and his legacy.

Secretary Salazar discussed the importance of the site to former
presidents, President Obama and the entire nation, recalling how Obama
retraced Lincoln’s train trip to Washington before his Inauguration and
then took his oath of office on the same Bible used by President Lincoln.

“Our new President, whose friendship I have cherished since we joined the
Senate together, has long studied Abe Lincoln’s life and leadership. His
admiration of Lincoln stems not only from shared Illinois roots but also
from great respect for his wisdom in a time of great turmoil.”

“Like Lincoln, President Obama faces the challenges of war and economic
turmoil,” Secretary Salazar noted. “He is also calling for unity. He is
also calling for change. The understanding of our common humanity and how
unity and needed change go hand-in-hand is part of understanding Lincoln.
Thus, it is part of the educational mission of Ford’s Theater.”

On display in the renovated lobby today was the Great Coat made by the
Brooks Brothers for President Lincoln. “The coat helps us imagine just a
bit of the larger-than-life stature of President Lincoln,” the Secretary
said. “Although he wore the Great Coat on the night he was assassinated
here at Ford’s Theater, the garment symbolizes much more than his martyrdom
for a united nation.

“President Lincoln also wore the coat on the occasion of his second
Inauguration where he gave his famous ‘With malice toward none, with
charity for all’ speech. In a call for unity that could apply to current
politics as much as it did to those in the 19th century, President Lincoln
called for binding up the nation’s wounds.”

Hosted by Paul Tetreault, Managing Director of Ford’s Theatre Society, the
ribbon-cutting also featured Wayne Reynolds, chairman of the society’s
board of trustees; Rex Tillerman, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Campaign
Chairman, Mayor Adrian Fenty and several members of the D.C. City Council.

The new lobby opens to the public tomorrow; open houses on February 12 and
16 feature a variety of public programs. A new museum will open later in
the year. The site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information,
please see

A copy of the Secretary’s remarks can be found at

ICOM president visits Seoul, praises Korean museum system for protecting "intangible" cultural heritage

Alissandra Cummins, President of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), praised the achievement of Korean museums and their protection of intangible cultural heritage. She visited Seoul last week for the editorial and advisory meeting of the International Journal of Intangible Heritage of the ICOM-ICME ― International Committee for Museums of Ethnography ― which took place at the National Folk Museum of Korea.

“Over the last ten years, I have become more aware of the Korean system for protecting intangible cultural heritage and what has been impressive is their knowledge about what they have and what is important in terms of representing different aspects of cultural life in the country and then reflecting that in a number of different ways,” Cummins said in an interview with The Korea Times.

The ICOM president emphasized the whole system of living human treasures, which is often difficult to find.

“Only a few countries do it. It is a process that we think really it should deserve a lot of attention. Korea has been very good about informing other countries and helping them to become aware of these kinds of systems, indeed, developing knowledge about the importance of apprenticing younger people to learn from the master traditional bearers is the important aspect of that,” she said.

Read the story at Korean Times …

U.S. National Park Service designates four new National Natural Landmarks

WASHINGTON – A rare ecosystem in Pennsylvania, the sixth longest cave in
Texas, and major fossil sites in Kentucky, New York, and Vermont were
recently named National Natural Landmarks.

The National Natural Landmarks Program, administered by the National Park
Service, recognizes significant examples of natural history and supports
property owners and managers in conservation efforts. There are now 586
listed sites.

“Nottingham Park Serpentine Barrens, Cave Without a Name, Big Bone Lick,
and Chazy Fossil Reef are the newest additions to the National Natural
Landmarks Program,” announced acting National Park Service Director Dan
Wenk. “Each of these sites has been identified, evaluated, and designated
through a scientific process that formally acknowledges their outstanding
biological or geological features.”

The Nottingham Park Serpentine Barrens in Chester County, Pennsylvania
support unique vegetation communities that contain many rare and endemic
species, including one of the northernmost occurrences of fame flower. The
site also has one of the state’s largest stands of pitch pine forest.

Cave Without a Name in Kendall County, Texas contains exceptional cave
formations, a rare and threatened salamander, and significant
paleontological deposits.

Big Bone Lick in Boone County, Kentucky is unique for its combination of
salt springs and associated Late Pleistocene bone beds.  The site has been
referred to as the birthplace of vertebrate paleontology in North America.
The Big Bone fossils played a very important role in the development of
scientific thought regarding the idea of extinction and the relationship of
geology and paleontology.

The Chazy Fossil Reef in Grand Isle County, Vermont and Clinton County, New
York contains surface exposures of an Ordovician fossil reef. The reef
recounts the tropical, marine environment that existed approximately 450
million years ago on the continental shelf of North America. This
paleontological treasure represents the oldest known occurrence of a
biologically diverse fossil reef in the world, the earliest appearance of
fossil coral in a reef environment, and the first documented example of the
ecological principle of faunal succession.

Since 1962, the National Natural Landmarks Program has supported the
cooperative conservation of important natural areas on private, state,
municipal, and Federal land. The decision to participate in the program is
completely voluntary and inclusion in the program does not dictate activity
or change the ownership of an area.

A complete list of National Natural Landmarks and additional information
about the program can be found at


"Archaeology Prodigy" gains fame in China

Hao Di, a 23-year-old Tianjin native has been collecting rare ancient coins, armor and bronze swords since he was 5 years old. He rose to fame in archaeology and collection circles at the age of 12 for discovering a set of three Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) coins and an ancient bronze sword. Now he provides advice to museums around the world, and at archaeological excavations. He is also the youngest guest professor with the department of history, at Peking University. Read the full story at China View.

International Newsletter on Rock Art available online

The INORA, the International Newsletter on Rock Art is now available online in the website of the UNESCO-ICOMOS Documentation Centre.

The publication is edited by Dr Jean Clottes, Former Director of the Chauvet Research Team, funded (or subsidized, or sponsored) by the Ministry of Culture (France) and the Département de l’Ariège (France), the newsletter presents the latest discoveries of rock art from around the world. It provides a platform for discussion and debate of current theories and controversies. It examines past, present and future documentation and dating techniques, and their interpretation.

The newsletter requires a subscription, though issues before 2007 have been digitized by the UNESCO-ICOMOS Documentation Centre and made available on the website. The newsletter is available at the following address:

Voices of the Past Audio Podcast: Conducting a cultural resource survey of the UT-Austin campus (with Fran Gale)

Fran Gale of the University of Texas in Austin talks about a cultural resources survey taking place at UTA. The survey is part of a $175,000 grant from the Getty Foundation. UT Austin’s original forty-acre central core from 1881 houses a collection of elegant early twentieth-century buildings that reflects the height of Beaux-Art urban design, and it thus remains the heart of the university. Cass Gilbert, architect of the Woolworth Building in New York and the United States Supreme Court, was responsible for the early development of the Austin campus. Gilbert’s Battle Hall (1911) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was recently selected by the American Institute of Architects as one of America’s 150 favorite buildings. Paul Cret, campus architect from 1930 to 1942, constructed twenty-one additional buildings, including the iconic Main Building and the Texas Tower. With Getty funds, the university is carrying out a cultural resource survey, including a landscape inventory, in order to develop a management plan for its significant historic landscapes and structures. The project also includes graduate instruction, continuing education workshops, and the creation of an interpretive campus history.