Author page: Bas

Archiving the digital

Not so very long ago most computer users printed everything. They held onto their paper texts, probably also because the average pre-millennium (Windows) computer was quite unreliable and crashes happened frequently. Files were much easier damaged than nowadays. Making backups was easily forgotten, so a printed hardcopy was something to rely on. The ‘paperless office’ existed in theory, but not in practice.…

Bellingcat

The transparency movement has finally come of age. Power has shifted to the users. Their trust has to be earned in different ways now says Jay Rosen, associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism¬†Institute at New York University, in a blog about the current change in journalism from a closed professional stronghold to open ‘citizen journalism’ with an increasing contribution of…

GEDCOM

Genealogy or family history is a popular pastime in Europe and still even more in the USA. Something we Westerners tend to forget is that many Asian countries have much longer traditions of genealogy, partly due to ancestral veneration or worship. The availability of DNA tests for ethnicity and ancestry surely contributes to the growing army of family enthusiasts. Modern researchers often use computer…

Who is Robert Galbraith?

It is presumable that some of you already know the answer to the above question. But first let me explain, at least for the ignorant among you, why this Robert Galbraith is a problematic person. On April 18th, 2013 a crime novel called ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ was published by Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group in London. As stated on…

Double-keying

Computers can do anything or almost anything. They can even read books with the help of Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Images from printed pages are converted into searchable and editable digital text. OCR has become better, that is: more accurate, over the years. Text collections like Google Books (over 25 million book titles), Project Gutenberg (57.000 free eBooks) and Delpher (in the…

Lorem ipsum

Lorem ipsum is a text without meaning used by typesetters and desktop publishers to try a font or lay-out. It contains Latin looking words or parts of words. The first word, ‘lorem’ for instance, is not a proper Latin word at all. Probably it’s the last part of ‘dolorem’, the accusative case of ‘dolor’, which means ‘sorrow’. The story goes that this…

Venice Time Machine

Probably one of the coolest digital historical projects I’ve ever run into is the Venice Time Machine. Before we talk any further, you should watch a short YouTube video they made, because that will preempt a lot of explaining. You can stop at 2:20 and skip the credits.* The main thing is this: the reconstruction of the Rialto district in Venice over…

Solid: The New Web?

There’s a new kid on the block and it’s not just any kid. A few day ago Sir Tim Berners-Lee, one of the co-founders* and also namegiver of the World Wide Web, wrote an open letter to the internet community, in which he announced a new platform called Solid.** Solid stands for Solid Linked Data and this name indicates that data and…

The future of the historian

May 2 1968 riots broke out in France. Demonstrations started at Paris University and soon spread all over the country, drawing in more students, factory workers, left-wing political parties and artists. Protests, occupations, strikes, barricades and marches against The Establishment and dominant ideologies like capitalism lasted for the rest of the month and had a major impact on French society. Maybe it…

Clay Shirky revisited

Ten years ago Clay Shirky publiced his bestselling Here comes everybody. The power of organizing without organizations. I read the book a couple of years later and I liked it instantly. Most of all I was struck by the positive tone in his talking about the possibilities of the internet, digital culture and social media. At that time and certainly in the…