PrestoCentre Screening the Future Conference

WESS Newsletter

Fall 2012, Vol. 36, No. 1

May 21-23, 2012, University of Southern California

This was the second annual conference sponsored by the PrestoCentre Foundation, a “membership-driven organization that brings together a global community of stakeholders in audiovisual digitization and digital preservation to share, work and learn.” It’s supported and governed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC, UK); l’Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA, France); Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (Beeld en Geluid); Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF, Austria); and Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI, Italy).

This year’s theme of “Play, Pause, and Press Forward” presented an array of speakers who debated issues of intellectual property, privacy, conservation, teaching and learning, research, and policy making.

Sam Gustman of the Shoah Foundation began the conference with a description of the extensive technical process – 7 years of manual indexing of 7.5 million video clips – that resulted in the extraordinary access offered by the Shoah Archives, an unprecedented professional cataloging effort to preserve and provide access to this collection of 5300 video interviews with Holocaust survivors from around the world.

Louis King, Yale University digital architect
Because digital technology is disruptive to any university’s traditional infrastructure, an architectural approach is advantageous to sustainability. In that spirit, Yale set up the Office of Digital Assets and Infrastructure, and installed an Enterprise DAM (a proprietary solution) with the goal of integrating digital asset management into the workflow of most all Yale units. To do this, they looked at commonalities across schools, departments and their stated missions, with the goal of stimulating artistic sensitivity and creative powers, commonality in regard to infrastructure (to support practices) and diversity in regard to practices. Time spent on infrastructure (managing, process, etc.) takes away from scholarly applications. One answer is to combine efforts and shift to institutional stewardship and global access. The library created an architecture system that is NOT a gate, as local stewards manage their own assets in making decisions.

Ben Moskowitz, Mozilla
Web video, 6 years new, is still deciding where it will go. We must consider architecture and use of proprietary software, as design controls results. Apple is more secure, but that is because they are more controlling of their space. Control the architecture, and you control the possibility space, and therefore determine what users can or cannot do. UTube is still just a TV portal, a TV screen in a webpage. It will become something else, via HTML5. Here’s an example of an HTML5 literacy tool: HTML5 gendered advertising remixer. Apple – Google – Microsoft – Facebook – Amazon, all have a focus on advertisers, and no interest in disrupting this system that pays them. Users need/want: interoperability, low-cost, transparent, competition, media literacy, preservation. Therefore, we look at more shared specifications, such as HTML 5, and other royalty free technologies, H.264, MPEG-4/AVC, web7M, so that student book reports of the future can be a driven web experience. Mozilla popcorn maker, a web editor, is partnering with the Internet archive, where everyone can share in the construction of visual memory.

Pip Laurenson, from the Tate Gallery, spoke of the challenges of curating video art. To digitize and archive tapes they use Ingex, a branded technology from BBC Research & Development that is a suite of open source software applications designed for low-cost flexible tapeless recording.

Howard Besser, NYU
Goal is to make works of all kinds usable for future, even new works coming from current environment where everyday life has become a subject of study – amateur, home movies, anthology footage, newsreels, television – all are important. We must remember that things that are unavailable cannot be studied, in fact, cannot be valued. When things take longer to study because of difficulty of access, less analysis is produced and the research gets less credit. While older discovery practices relate to work as a whole, now there is more interest in the parts (the indexing) of moving pictures.

A panel discussion about where we are now in terms of access, discovery and preservation of online resources concluded : Over the last 5-10 years, libraries have developed ‘fancy’ catalogs and then ended up reengineering the google searchbox to replace them : “we know nothing about users, there is no systematic analysis of users, only anecdotal. We cannot explain why we make technical decisions or why we choose what we do to preserve. The user is invoked a lot but we really don’t know what users want. We work on the broadcast model of the passive user, which prescribes this approach: do you want specific thing rather than ask the more open question, What do you want?” – Paul Conway, professor in the University of Michigan School of Information.

Jane Sloan, Media Librarian
Rutgers University