January 16, 2010

Dutch national library wants to digitize everything

Filed under: Literature by Branko Collin @ 10:08 am

From the Strategic Plan 2010-2013 of the Dutch National Library:

Strategic priority 1: As a national library, the KB wishes to offer everyone everywhere digital access to everything published in and about the Netherlands. …

Main aims …

* We digitize all Dutch books, newspapers and periodicals from 1470. …
* We make agreements about copyright in order to guarantee free access to our collections. …

The KB in 2013: …

* We offer a service for digitization on demand (digitisation of texts from the paper collection on request) in order to meet the wishes of individual clients. …
* We keep a digitisation register that prevents possible overlap of digitization activities by other institutions. …

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library) will not only digitize printed works, but will also archive digital works such as web pages. According to Trouw, the first 10% of 600 million books pages to be digitized should be available in 2013.

Via Open Access News.

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October 18, 2009

Van Gogh’s letters and Max Havelaar in English

Filed under: Art,History,Literature by Branko Collin @ 11:34 am

English translations of Vincent van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo have been released in a 6 volume boxed set by the Van Gogh Museum in a 15-year-long cooperation with the Huygens Instituut. The original letters in French and Dutch have also been reproduced.

The entire set contains all the pictures referenced in the letters, that is, all 4,300 of them, The Guardian reports.

If you don’t feel like shelling out the 325 UKP that the set is undoubtedly worth, you can also read the letters and their translations at vangoghletters.org. The Huygens Instituut is part of the Dutch academy for sciences.

Story via Eamelje.net (Dutch), who in a totally unrelated story also points out that another Dutch giant of the 19th century, writer Multatuli, published his masterpiece Max Havelaar 150 years ago last Tuesday. The Havelaar has been in translation for a long time, and a public domain English version can be found at Google Books.

If you do not like PDF or EPUB, you might be able to extract the HTML version from the EPUB file (which is just a ZIP archive under a different name).


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July 3, 2009

Van Gogh’s paintings as shot by amateur photographers

Filed under: Art,Photography by Branko Collin @ 9:06 am

The Wiki Loves Art contest that I reported about earlier is over, and all that is left is for the judges to declare a winner.

One of the extraordinary things about this contest is that the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam opened its door to amateur photographers. That must have been a frightful decision to take, what with all the paintings worth millions just a camera stand leg away from scratching, so I hope it was a good experience for them.

Painting above is The Harvest (1888), photo taken by Flickr user Pachango. View the 4,500+ contest photos here, or just the 450+ Van Gogh ones here. (I edited the colours into oblivion, but I just could not agree with the red hue that Pachango’s version had, or the yellow hue on the museum’s website.)

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June 2, 2009

Wiki Loves Art started with a bang

Filed under: Online,Photography by Branko Collin @ 1:40 pm

The Wiki Loves Art photo competition kicked off with an event held at the Joods Historisch Museum (JHM, Jewish Historical Museum) in Amsterdam yesterday. Museum director Hetty Berg explained that they had become enthusiastic about the idea of a photo hunt for Wikipedia after hearing about the positive experiences had by the Jewish Museum in New York during the precursor of this event in the US and the UK, Wikipedia Loves Art. She went on to highlight some of the objects that could be photographed, pointing out what made these objects special, which I thought was really helpful in portraying these objects.

Three professional photographers roamed the museum to help out the 40 or so amateur ones, and I know this certainly helped me. That was an excellent idea from the organizers! One tip I found useful and would never have thought of myself is to use a timed release when using a tripod under low light conditions. This helps the camera stop wobbling after you press the release button.

The first photos of yesterday’s hunt are slowly appearing at http://www.flickr.com/groups/wikilovesart/. I posted my first batch there yesterday, but they still haven’t appeared, so who knows how many are still waiting in a queue. If you are in the Netherlands or planning to visit, the competition runs the entire month of June, during which you can show up with your camera (and sometimes with your tripod and flash—check the rules) at any of the 36 participating museums.

Update: the rules of several of the museums have been added to their pages at the Wiki Loves Art website—some of the museums will only be accessible during guided tours for which you have to register. Regardless of the motives for this restriction I think on the whole this is a good idea. It means the photographers get professional guidance, and the museums get to build confidence about events such as WLA.

(Photo of a lamp that used to adorn stairs in the Hirsch building in Amsterdam. The museum’s own photography gives little indication of the size of these things, so I put myself in the frame for comparison. I will be posting my photos for this comp at a Flickr account I created for it instead of at the 24 Oranges one.)

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September 21, 2008

Dutch literature at Project Gutenberg

Filed under: Literature by Branko Collin @ 9:01 am

I’ve made a sampler of the Dutch texts that were published at Project Gutenberg in August and September. In a month I want to attend the Communia workshops in Amsterdam on how to establish the public domain status of works, and my plan is to print a couple of these booklets and distribute them there. However, I figured other people might want to sample Project Gutenberg too, so I uploaded my Nederlandse Project Gutenberg Reader to The Internet Archive for all to read. It contains fragments from Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Jules Verne’s Cesar Cascabel, C. Joh. Kieviet’s Gouden Daden (history), Herman Robbers’ De Vreemde Plant, J.J. Cremers’ Betuwsche Novellen, C.S. Adama van Scheltema’s Mei-Droom (drama), and a short piece by W.-F. Rondou on how to recognize counterfeit honey. You can download it in PDF and ODT (OpenOffice.org) formats.

I can make these pretty easily, so should there be any interest for such samplers, just let me know and I’ll produce one every two months or so. The sampler is set up as an actual booklet. OpenOffice.org Writer let me set wide inner margins, and Acrobat Reader 9 will let me print it.

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June 18, 2008

Public broadcasters testing YouTube-like system

Filed under: Online,Shows by Branko Collin @ 2:25 pm

The united Dutch public broadcasters are considering introducing a YouTube like system for posting videos of shows according to Webwereld (Dutch), and have a test version of the system online.

The current version of Uitzending Gemist (Missed a programme?) uses WMV clips, which aren’t as accessible as Flash Video. Apart from introducing Flash video, the new system will allow you to embed Dutch shows in your blog and elsewhere on the Web, and will let visitors comment on shows. Pretty much the things Youtube allows you to do.

Webwereld quotes NPO (part of NOS) manager William Valkenburg as saying: “For now we’ll be testing the player with a limited number of shows to see what people will do with it and what functions they will use. After that we will consider the nature of further deployment.”

The Dutch public broadcasting system was originally set up for radio in the early 20th century in a way that allowed the Catholics, Protestants, socialists, and so on to set up their own broadcasting corporations. Fees were collected directly from citizens and distributed among the broadcasters depending on membership ratios. An umbrella corporation called NOS was founded to share costs and to broadcast programmes of a general nature. As recent as the late 1980s, commercial stations started pirate broadcasts from Luxembourg, and in 1992 these were legalised, making it possible for commercial entities to broadcast from within the Netherlands itself.

This week minister Plasterk was asked questions in parliament why NOS uses a proprietary Microsoft system for broadcasting EURO2008 over the Internet, locking out GNU/Linux users in the process.

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