Is Your Local History, Heritage and Culture Decomposing?

 

A Proposal to Rescue Local Film and Video Resources, Create Jobs, & Generate Revenues.

Creating International Digital Libraries of Community, Educational and Artistic Content.

 

 

 

 

Present by:

Nieuw Millennium

 

 

 

Written by:

Robert Joseph

Executive Director


The Problems:

As you read this brief, hundreds of thousands of hours of documents that have preserved our collective histories, heritages and cultures are turning to dust, soon to be lost forever. I speak specifically of the volume of media that sits in the closets of local broadcasting entities. This content consists of (but is not limited to) city council and planning commission meetings, special local events and documentaries that highlight the unique histories of communities worldwide.

This highly localized content, captured on film and video during the last century, sits in a technological and financial divide and may never see the digital light of day. Why? Because the political systems, which subsidize the existence of local broadcasting, and the cable groups which are forced to give the broadcast space at a financial loss, are not compelled to support the conversion of this media into (non-degradable) digital formats. A good portion has already been lost to medium half-lives, destruction due to space issues or the closure of local facilities. It is ironic to think that the last hundreds years may have less to show historically than any millennium previous to the industrial and technological revolutions.

 

The Needs:

In accepting that this is an issue worth pulling our heads out of the sand and addressing, we begin to see that this is indeed a problem of monumental magnitude. The historical issue aside, this mountain of highly localized content is growing while we are digitizing, indexing and archiving pre-existing media. Given this, how do we begin to approach the immediate need of capturing the past while planning for a continued effort in the future?

There are five essential requirements in staging a sustained and successful effort.

  1. Locate the financial resources needed to achieve the following four objectives
  2. Provide the facilities that house the machinery, manpower and management staff
  3. Identify and acquire the best of breed technologies to digitize, index, archive & distribute
  4. Train and deploy the human resources to manage and manifest this massive effort
  5. Create and initiate the plan for international expansion of the conversion facilities

 

The Solutions:

Nieuw Millennium is an international non-profit organization that addresses these needs by creating practical, affordable solutions to the problems. Our focus is the building of public access, international, digital libraries based on this (soon to be lost) content. Our goals are to:

  1. Develop and maintain public digital libraries based on localized, community content
  2. Train the labor force and management staff to begin (and continue) this massive task
  3. Support the emergence of a growth industry which from this point forward will:
    1. Focus on the preservation of local community history, heritage and culture
    2. Train, deploy and compensate tens of thousands of workers internationally
    3. Provide valuable technical resources to community, government and business
    4. Increase the scope and scale of local television production and distribution
    5. Generate revenues which support continued localized community broadcasting

With an objective to Œbring down the barriers to publishingı Nieuw Millennium has initiated four core projects that serve as working facilities, models and prototypes that can be scaled, replicated and networked world-wide to achieve the goals listed above.

 


The Well is a distributed network of archives, a massive library, consisting of (but not limited to) community, art and educational content. The Well is divided into two digital collections.

  1. An online, free and publicly accessible library of low-bit rate, non-downloadable, versions which, through advanced methods of meta-data indexing, can be searched, retrieved, and previewed (streamed via narrow-band) by an international user base.
  2. An off or near-line library of high bit-rate (MPEG) versions of the public library that can be exchanged (monitized). A model for licensing, syndication or purchasing follows a sliding scale of fees charged for educational, entertainment and marketing uses. This process provides revenue opportunities to both the content and technology providers. This restricted archive is appropriate for syndication into interactive TV projects.

Ideally, The Well's public archive is financed from funds provided by public, private and corporate resources for brick and mortar libraries. Traditionally, these funds have been made available by local, national and international sources. These monies are now being made available to groups that are bringing libraries and enhanced library capabilities into the internet and to iTV.

From these sources, Nieuw Millennium:

  1. Offers content providers conversion grants to support digitizing, indexing and archiving
  2. Provides training to teach conversion skills to youths at risk, single mothers, the elderly
  3. Compensates content converters for their work efforts.

 

The Hive is a ŒLearn to Earnı environment that targets individuals currently caught in a digital divide such as youths at risk, single mothers, and the elderly, and then trains them in the skills sets needed to digitize, index and archive content. The Hive then offers trainees contract or employment opportunities to participate in the socially redeeming effort of preserving history, heritage and culture. Trainees can then move on to become trainers themselves or find positions in the public, private or corporate sectors utilizing their newly learned skill sets.

The Hive is funded initially by donations, but it is designed to evolve into a financially self-sustaining facility as it takes on commercial, revenue generating projects (ad agencies etc.).

 

The (Publisherıs) Toolkit is a spectrum of offerings that begin with scaled down versions of  Œbest of breedı software and hardware configurations that enable local broadcasters to:

  1. Extend the reach of their local broadcast by simul-casting into the narrowband space
  2. Broadcast (live) as you digitize, index and archive, make available on-demand from The Well
  3. Use toolkit to digitize, index, archive, and provide access to pre-recorded (historical) content

The Toolkit will also enable other media providers to publish either into The Well (proper) or to build smaller, scaled down, distributed versions (nodes) of The Well. Nodes are separate from The Well but the indexing engines are linked to provide continuity in searching and retrieval opportunities. Node builders have more control over access requirements to preview content (low-bit rate) and the valuation of content (high bit-rate) for licensing or purchase.

At the other end of the spectrum of Œenabling technologiesı offerings are financial, technical and human resource models (templates) to build what Nieuw Millennium envisions as the next evolutionary step in community broadcasting facilities. We call these facilities the Technology, Education and Arts (TEA) Factory (see below).

 


The TEA Factory is a model community multi-media training and production facility which:

  1. Promotes the integration of emerging technologies into education and the arts.
  2. Provides funds, facilities and faculty to bridge individuals across the digital divide.
  3. Serves as an the evolutionary step in the production and broadcasting of local content

The TEA Factory is a state of the art audio, video and data facility for the training of future content creators. It's a 'Show What You Know' (or you gotta go) environment where professionals raise our next generation of media producers. The TEA Factory is a mixed media production space where mentors, apprentice and audiences can gather and appreciate the cutting edge of media possibilities by producing compelling content and broadcasting into the internet and iTV spaces.

TEA Factory offers the following professional services and training opportunities in:

  1. Digital/analog audio sound engineering facility including 5.1 surround sound capabilities
  2. Video pre/post production tools, chroma-key facility, 3-D rendering and animation
  3. DVD mastering; internet to interactive TV projects, streaming media, digital archives

 

 

The Benefits:

The effort to digitize, index, and archive this growing body of content appears insurmountable, yet as we look at the needs, we see that unexpected benefits emerge as we address the problems.

To date, no specific estimates have been made as to how large a taskforce would be required now or ten years from now, nor do we know how long a period of time it would take to digitize, index and archive our local histories. However, we can state the following without reservations.

  1. That an entire industry needs to emerge to begin and continue this effort.
  2. That the size of the taskforce would need to be significantly large and widely distributed
  3. That the time to make a meaningful dent in the media mass would be significantly long.

This translates to employment for a large number of new digitally capable, multi media recruits with job security for a significant duration, not to mention the potential positive macro economic effects.

While the financing of The Hive and TEA Factory and the paying of human resources is initially derived from donated sources, they are envisioned to become financially self-sustaining in two years by serving commercial contracts (in addition to their socially redeeming work). In this way we decrease spending from donated funding sources, freeing-up money to build additional facilities, train more recruits and continue the provision of Content Conversion and TEA grants.

Users of the on-line library (low bit-rate, non-usable files) can search, identify and bid for content that they desire to syndicate, license or buy for commercial, entertainment or educational purposes (high bit-rate, MPEG). This becomes revenue opportunities for the content submitters as well as those groups that make up the technical alliance. (For example, Universal content hunters looking to find material related the American Civil Rights Movement for a movie production may find an undiscovered gem among the lesser interesting media bits. Letıs say, a clip of Martin Luther King that has been buried in the closet of a broadcaster in a small Midwestern American town. If Universal buys the clip, this becomes a win-win-win situation for the content submitter, NMıs technology alliance and Universal).

When we explore the process to rescue these valuable assets and the opportunity to facilitate an emerging industry, we see that both content and people are bridged across respective technical and human digital divides as we concurrently facilitate jobs and provide new revenue streams. This is indeed a bridge building effort with more redeeming benefits than fiscal drawbacks.


A Quick Summary

In our scope of vision, Nieuw Millennium begins a multi-decade effort to gather, digitize and archive a significant portion of existing audio and visual content created since the dawn of radio, film, television and video. Nieuw Millennium's sights are set on outlining a process by which funds can be acquired and a substantial labor force can be trained, assembled and financially compensated to address the monumental task of preserving history, heritage and culture captured these media while promoting the local integration of technology into education and art.

Nieuw Millennium has created four core projects that begin the work required to reach these goals and does so as it provides training, creates jobs and initiates revenue-generating services.

  1. The Well: an international library of localized content; search, retrieve and syndicate
  2. The Hive: learn to earn environment for content conversion, indexing and archiving.
  3. The (Publisher) Toolkit: tools and instructions to fill the well or to build your own node
  4. The TEA Factory: video, audio and data service and training facilities

Having reached this point, one may assume that you have identified with the problems, needs, solutions or the social-economic benefits spoken to in this brief. If so, then we encourage you to support, and become involved in Nieuw Millenniumıs projects.

Here's how you can help:

If you represent an agency focused on the preservation of history, heritage or culture, you can:

If you represent a corporation that provides fund for socially redeeming efforts: you can:

If you represent a technology provider with resources relevant to our efforts, you can:

If you represent a consortium or collective with public, private or corporate members: you can:

 

It is our hope that you find Nieuw Millennium's goals compelling and worthy of time, money and effort. Already, our 'nieuw' organization has captured the attention of high profile affiliates including Adobe, BBC Technologies Group, Convera and Channel Storm. We would be delighted to send you more information, to talk about ideals, to exchange ideas, to help preserve and be a part of saving history.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Robert Joseph

Executive Director, Nieuw Millennium

rjoseph@nieuwmillennium.org


Screen Shots: Digitize, Index & Archive; Produce & Publish; Internet-iTV Broadcast

 

Figure 1.  A sample screen shot displaying digitized key frames of a 16mm film.

 

While or after previewing, meta-data can be attached to single frames or series of frames. Face and scene recognition, voice to text conversions, and subtitles are automatically recorded and indexed, archived and linked to high (off line) and low resolution (on line) versions.  More detailed, contextual, metadata can be added in other layers of review by people working either in The Hive or remotely in their own home.

 

 

The screenshot above is an example of an interface used for digitizing, indexing and archiving using state of the art software developed by Convera. (Nieuw Millennium, as an agnostic provider of technical solutions, tests, configures and consults on cross-platform, 'best of breed' solutions for internet and interactive projects).

 

 


 

Figure 2.  A sample screen shot depicting a simple video search for 'soldier'.

 

Advanced indexing protocols allow for accurate location and the 'cuing-up' of clips once a search has been returned. The BBC Technologies Group is developing an XML structure (SMEF) that facilitates indexing of metadata for massive media archives. Nieuw Millennium is moving forward the database structures that will allow for the indexing and archiving of an increasing number of media types and formats which could then manage a deeper and broader well of technology, education, art and community content.

 

 

Shown above is a sample screen showing a video search return.

 

Nieuw Millennium is working on remote methods of adding meta-data to media, allowing professionals and specialist, as well as homebound or handicapped individuals to do more than preview content, but actually be part of increasing the quality and quantity of data about content in the public online archive. Nieuw Millennium is exploring more ambitious applications of this technology in an area we have labeled 'Rights Discovery Assistance'. Ultimately, it facilities the clearing of intellectual right issues which limits the distribution, licensing or syndication of content in 'The Well'.

 

(The screen shots above were captured at The Hive Facility from The Well archive.)

Figure 3.  A sample screen shot depicting broadcasting server and client tools.

 

The top image in the diagram below depicts 'scaled down' configurations of hardware and software tools used at the 'server-side' to broadcast out to the narrowband (internet) space.

 

The software displayed below is a new product from Channel Storm called Live Channel. Nieuw Millennium's Toolkit provides a spectrum of options, like Live Channel, to extended community level and smaller scale broadcasting opportunities and efforts. It is this type of tool that Nieuw Millennium is advancing in it's quest to scale down the skill sets to produce and publish content into the internet and interactive television spaces.

 

 

 

The lower part of the graphic represent the client-side, mixed media presentation that is broadcasted live narrowband, while it is indexed and archived for on-demand viewing.