Monday, September 22, 2014

Google Glass

The Library Company had a real treat in July: a visit from Google Glass. The new eyewearwhich is still hard to get in many placescomes equipped with audio and video recording technology, and a range of software applications. It’s the next wave of the computing revolutiona camera and pc at the tip of your eyebrow!

How can archives, historic sites, and researchers use Google Glass? That was the question public historian Dr. Liz Covart asked early American historians visiting Philadelphia this summer. We jumped at the chance to try the digital monocle and provide some answers. After all, what better place to experiment with this new technology than Franklin’s Library (where we still have Ben Franklin’s original electrostatic machine).

When Dr. Covart arrived, we let various staff members and interns try out “Glass,” as the eyewear is called. We then toured different departments, recording interviews with curators and conservators at work. In the McLean Conservation Department, Andrea Krupp expertly explained how she repaired rare books. In the basement, we recorded staff members looking through the old, old card catalogue (from the 1800s!). In Jim Green’s office, we heard about Peter Collinson’s famous copy of Maitland’s The History of London (1739), which features a series of fascinating annotations and marginal notes about the way London had changed through Collinson’s lifetime.  These interviews were automatically uploaded to a Google account, ready for online viewing.

It was a great demonstration of the way that the Library Company can use new technologies to tell scholars, students, and the informed public what we do. Even Google Glass agreed. When we tweeted a picture of our Digital Humanities Intern Giles Holbrow facing the famous picture of Ben Franklin in the Logan Room, Google wrote back: “Pensive pose from two eras. This is great….”

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