The presidential library commemorating the life of US President John F Kennedy is digitising every scrap of paper, video, audio and artefact it possesses.
The project is the largest by one of the 13 presidential libraries.
Materials already digitised include secret phone conversations about the Cuban missile crisis.
There are also recordings of meetings discussing Vietnam, civil rights and the space race, school report cards and letters from JFK to his mother.
The library's total archive encompasses 48 million pages, 7,000 hours of audio recordings, 16,000 museum artefacts and 400,000 photographs. The Kennedy online library is said to be the largest to be converted from pre-digital formats.
Most of us will have never heard of the term ‘DPI’ or know that it stands for ‘Dots-Per-Inch’. DPI refers to the physical dot density of an image when it is for example printed onto paper, or displayed on a computer monitor. So in simple speak the more dots per inch, the higher the resolution of the image the richer the resulting digital image will be.
A high DPI setting mimics the original image in a truer fashion than lower DPI settings are capable of doing. If the image is to be enlarged, a high DPI setting is necessary. Otherwise the enlarged picture will look "blocky" or blurry because the software lacks information to fill in the extra space when the image is enlarged. Instead it "blows up" each pixel to "smear" it over a wider area. Technically again, the more correct term in this application is sampled PPI, but DPI is more often used.
Scanning is the process of converting paper to digital and in this process DPI is used to adjust the amount of detail of the scan. The DPI setting of the scanner relates to the final pixel size of the scanned image. If you put a 5" x 7" photo on the scanner and scan it at 300 dpi, the resulting digital image will be 1500 x 2100 pixels in size (5" x 300 = 1500 and 7" x 300 = 2100). In this case, DPI does relate to quality, since the higher the scanner DPI setting the more information is being collected. Best results for paper photos are generally achieved within a range of 300 dpi (sufficient for most photos) to 600 dpi (if you want to enlarge the image).
We believe that people should only need to have their old photographs digitally scanned once. Photos Reunited scans all images at minimum 600 dpi as standard, unlike most other companies who like to charge a hefty premium for this quality option. By scanning at 600 dpi we offer the customer the best quality image for all future printing requirments, either that be a new photo album, printed photo book or a large portrait of a former family member or ancestor.
Photograph by: Greg Southam, The Journal, Edmonton Journal
If the going rate on a picture still amounts to a thousand words, Mark McIlveen's collection of family images would produce a six-million-word tome that would make War and Peace look like a pocket novel. When he finally completed the arduous task of digitizing 6,000 photographs from six generations and stood back to examine the results, it was a head-shaking moment.
"It was certainly a strange visual," says McIlveen, "to have had all these boxes of albums and then spend more than a hundred hours digitizing them to wind up with a tiny little shoebox thingy of about 40 discs."
Most mere mortals are overwhelmed by the prospect of sorting through even a single drawer full of unorganized photographs. Many others have photos that exist only in cyberspace, on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. McIlveen, though, decided to tackle the herculean task of digitizing 130 years' worth of hard-copy family photographs, some from as far back as 1880.
He says it was worth the effort. "From that shoebox," says McIlveen, "many great new projects will be launched."
What those projects will be is no longer his problem. That will be up to his three daughters, Linda, Laura and Erin, to whom McIlveen has passed the torch -- or, in this case, shoebox. The plan, he says, was always to hand the vast collection over to them when they all graduated from university, which came to pass last month when his youngest, Erin, 24, graduated from the University of Las Vegas in Nevada.
"Now it's the next generation's turn to do whatever they want with it," says McIlveen.
The family photo history happened almost by accident, when McIlveen offered to help his grandparents sort through a moving box full of old photographs and get them into some semblance of order, about 30 years ago. He eventually did the same thing with his parents before they died.
"It just kind of grew into a project over the years of organizing family photographs into albums," he says. "It started out as a small project, of going through one or two big boxes of unorganized pictures, which is probably something every family has. There was never an intention of creating a whole system."
Laura, who's now 28, says her Dad was always on the lookout for Kodak moments when they were growing up, especially during their annual summer vacations. He was also extremely organized and made sure the precious memories he documented with his camera were put into photograph albums almost immediately, rather than being tossed into a dresser drawer to be forgotten.
Everything changed with the advent of digital technology, and before long McIlveen looked at his stacks of neatly ordered albums and saw an opportunity to build a digital history of his family. "Through the years we had accumulated more than 10,000 pictures," he says, "but we took the best 6,000 and digitized them to make a family history."
The hard part was standing in front of the scanner at the local Walmart, where each image had to be scanned individually.
"The staff there knew my name," says Stephanie Melo, a family friend who helped him with the project. McIlveen figures the process took about 120 hours in total.
The irony, of course, is that his daughters plan to turn at least some of the images on the CDs into pictures again, likely in the form of customized books. And that's OK with him. "Whatever they want to do is fine with me," says McIlveen with a laugh. "My job is done."
IN UNIFORM ... James Clarke, back left, and some of his comrades from the Western front
Unseen photographs of Rochdale's Victoria Cross hero James Clarke show him proudly displaying his medal.
Old photos of the First World War hero have been given to the Observer by Mr Clarke's great-grandson Richard.
Richard, who lives in Redditch, said: "The group shot in uniform I presume is of his regiment and James Clarke is on the back row at the end of the left side.
"The other photo was when he was invited to a VC dinner in London by the Prince of Wales in 1929. You will notice he is wearing his VC on his left lapel."
Regimental Sergeant Major James Clarke was awarded the medal for outstanding courage while commanding a platoon of the 6th Rochdale of Lancashire Fusiliers on November 2, 1918, when he came under heavy machine gun fire in the French trenches of the Western Front.