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Gregzs:
The One Person Archive

http://www.fastcompany.com/3022022/the-incredible-story-of-marion-stokes-who-single-handedly-taped-35-years-of-tv-news

The Incredible Story Of Marion Stokes, Who Single-Handedly Taped 35 Years Of TV News

From 1977 to 2012, she recorded 140,000 VHS tapes worth of history. Now the Internet Archive has a plan to make them public and searchable

In a storage unit somewhere in Philadelphia, 140,000 VHS tapes sit packed into four shipping containers. Most are hand-labeled with a date between 1977 and 2012, and if you pop one into a VCR you might see scenes from the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Reagan Administration, or Hurricane Katrina.

It's 35 years of history through the lens of TV news, captured on a dwindling format.

It's also the life work of Marion Stokes, who built an archive of network, local, and cable news, in her home, one tape at a time, recording every major (and trivial) news event until the day she died in 2012 at the age of 83 of lung disease.

Stokes was a former librarian who for two years co-produced a local television show with her then-future husband, John Stokes Jr. She also was engaged in civil rights issues, helping organize buses to the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, among other efforts. She began casually recording television in 1977. She taped lots of things, but she thought news was especially important, and when cable transformed it into a 24-hour affair, she began recording MSNBC, Fox, CNN, CSNBC, and CSPAN around the clock by running as many as eight television recorders at a time.

She'd feed a six-hour tape into the recorders late at night. She'd wake up early the next day to change them (or conscript family members to do the same if she wasn't home). She'd cut short meals at restaurants to rush home before tapes ended. And when she got too old to keep up, she trained a younger helper named Frank to run the various recording equipment.

But the majority of her days were structured around paying attention to and saving whatever was on the news. "Pretty much everything else took a back seat,” says her son, Michael Metelits. “It provided a certain rhythm to her life, and a certain amount of deep, deep conviction that this stuff was going to be useful. That somehow, someone would find a way to index it, archive it, store it--that it would be useful.”

Stokes bought VHS tapes by the dozen. As she recorded, she made stacks so high they would fall over. The project took over several of the apartments she owned. “It was just a logistical nightmare--that’s really the only way to put it,” Metelits says. When people asked her why her home was filled packed with televisions, recorders, and tapes, she’d tell them, “I’m archiving, that’s all.”

How One Woman’s Eccentric Hobby Became Another Man’s Treasure

To acquaintances, Stokes’s extremely time-consuming and expensive passion for archiving could seem eccentric.

Roger Macdonald thinks it's heroic. He's the librarian who runs the television portion of the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization dedicated to building a free Internet library. Since 2000, his team has been recording national television news to a digital format in hopes of one day making it all part of a searchable archive (broadcasts from the last four years are already available). His system is much simpler than Stokes’ elaborate video cassette juggling act--it’s just a very small rack of computers with discs spinning and cables going in and out--but the visions behind both projects are aligned. “Television has been our most pervasive and persuasive medium,” Macdonald says, “but we’ve never really had much of a pause and rewind button on our experience of it to reflect back on television news, to compare and contrast and mine it for knowledge.”

When Macdonald heard about Stokes’s massive archive, he emailed her son for more information. He got an answer but it only made him more curious. So he called. “Everything I learned would ratchet my eyes ever wider. How many tapes are we talking about? How did that work? How did the family live like that? It’s just an amazing, amazing story.” The Internet Archive had received large collections of 100 or 200 tapes from individuals before, but nothing quite like this.

John Lynch, the director of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive had a similar reaction. “Normally when we get someone who calls in about a collection, we try to send them somewhere else really quick, because the nature of our collection is that we record things ourselves,” he says. But there was a special significance in what Stokes had accomplished.

Early broadcast news isn’t easy to find, Lynch says, because while networks often did a good job of archiving the footage they used to make the show, they were less meticulous about saving the show itself--a pattern he attributes to “a sense of modesty on their part.” More recent news reports are more likely to be available from stations themselves, but stations typically charge an access fee.

The Vanderbilt Television News Archive is one of the most, if not the most, comprehensive collections of television in the world. It has its own news recordings going back to 1968, and researchers can borrow them on DVD for a small fee to cover the costs of operation. Having been sued by a network during its early days, however, the organization is careful about the way it shares its content (“We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we want to be careful to not mess it up,” Lynch explains). It does not post all the footage online for anyone to access instantly.

The Internet Archive does want to make a television news archive available for instant search online. But it can’t simply borrow content from some place like Vanderbilt. It relies on donations for content recorded before 2000. So Macdonald agreed to accept, digitize and index Stokes’s archive.

“Some local news will be lost forever,” he says, “but who knows, because there may be other Marion Stokeses out there who had that similar passion.”

Turning 140,000 VHS Tapes Into An Archive

The Internet Archive wasn’t sure it would be able to digitize some of the older tapes, and Metelits sent them some samples to test. Arrangements have since been made to ship the rest of the tapes to the Internet Archive’s temperature-controlled storage center in Richmond, California. Shipping will cost Stokes's estate about $12,000. When the tapes arrive, they’ll sit until someone puts them into video players, one at a time, and begins to digitize them for the archive, a process almost as arduous as recording them in the first place.

“It will take a long time,” Macdonald says, “Like the little engine that can, we’ll just keep plugging away at it.”

There weren’t any provisions for the tape collection in Stokes’s will, but anyone who knew her knew she wanted them to be used as an archive. She had been born at the beginning of the Great Depression, and like many people of her generation, saved a lot of things. Scattered throughout the family's various properties, she had stored a half-century of newspapers and 192 Macintosh computers. But the tapes were special. “I think my mother considered this her legacy,” Metelits says.

The value of home-recorded newscasts isn’t immediately obvious, but when the collection becomes public, there will likely be many unanticipated ways to use it. Lynch remembers one year, back when students at Vanderbilt still had to physically visit its archive in order to use it, he looked through the list of those who had done so. “Every single school inside the university had used us,” he says, “Which meant the fine-arts school had found a reason why they wanted to look at old TV news. What happens is that when you make a rich collection available, there are the things you thought of, the reasons why you thought it was valuable, and those may be very much right--but what happens is that it turns out it has a life beyond that.”

On a trip to San Francisco in September of this year, when he visited the archive, Metelits saw the first digitization of his mother’s work. There, on a screen, was Ted Koppel talking about the Iranian Hostage Crisis on Nightline. Metelits started to tear up. And he did again when he recounted the story. “The idea that my mother’s project could be useful to someone was really kind of an emotional moment,” he says.

He recalled how Stokes had a habit of watching two televisions at once, and her son says she could pay attention to both at the same time. Plus, there were often several more televisions running without volume in bedrooms and hallways as they recorded other channels. It was a chaotic environment for most everyone but Stokes.

The day she passed away, December 14, was also the first day in a long time that no one changed the tapes. The house was quiet and absent the usual flickering screens casting frantic shadows. “Over time, I came to respect her project, but it wasn’t my project,” Metelits says. “It did feel weird, but it felt oddly kind of... the apartments were kind of peaceful in a way they hadn’t been in a long time.”

Had the TVs been on that day, they would have all carried news of the same event: the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"I got to the house and this horrific news was going on," Metelits says. "Kids being killed. Teachers being killed while shielding children, that sort of thing." He takes a pause. After about a minute he breaks the silence. "I remember being very grateful that that wasn’t the last news she saw."

Gregzs:
http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/music/leonardo-da-vincis-wacky-piano-is-heard-for-the-first-time-after-500-years-20131118-2xpqs.html

Leonardo Da Vinci's wacky piano is heard for the first time, after 500 years

A bizarre instrument combining a piano and cello has finally been played to an audience more than 500 years after it was dreamt up Leonardo da Vinci.

Da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance genius who painted the Mona Lisa, invented the ‘‘viola organista’’ - which looks like a baby grand piano – but never built it, experts say.

The viola organista has now come to life, thanks to a Polish concert pianist with a flair for instrument-making and the patience and passion to interpret da Vinci’s plans.

Full of steel strings and spinning wheels, Slawomir Zubrzycki’s creation is a musical and mechanical work of art.

‘‘This instrument has the characteristics of three we know: the harpsichord, the organ and the viola da gamba,’’ Zubrzycki said as he debuted the instrument at the Academy of Music in the southern Polish city of Krakow.

The instrument’s exterior is painted in a rich midnight blue, adorned with golden swirls painted on the side. The inside of its lid is a deep raspberry inscribed with a Latin quote in gold leaf by 12th-century German nun, mystic and philosopher, Saint Hildegard.

‘‘Holy prophets and scholars immersed in the sea of arts both human and divine, dreamt up a multitude of instruments to delight the soul,’’ it says.

The flat bed of its interior is lined with golden spruce. Sixty-one gleaming steel strings run across it, similar to the inside of a baby grand.

Each is connected to the keyboard, complete with smaller black keys for sharp and flat notes. But unlike a piano, it has no hammered dulcimers. Instead, there are four spinning wheels wrapped in horse-tail hair, like violin bows.

To turn them, Zubrzycki pumps a pedal below the keyboard connected to a crankshaft. As he tinkles the keys, they press the strings down onto the wheels, emitting rich, sonorous tones reminiscent of a cello, an organ and even an accordion.

The effect is a sound that da Vinci dreamt of, but never heard; there are no historical records suggesting he or anyone else of his time built the instrument he designed.

A sketch and notes in da Vinci’s characteristic inverted script is found in his Codex Atlanticus, a 12-volume collection of his manuscripts and designs for everything from weaponry to flight.

‘‘I have no idea what Leonardo da Vinci might think of the instrument I’ve made, but I’d hope he’d be pleased,’’ said Zubrzycki, who spend three years and 5000 hours bringing da Vinci’s creation to life.

Gregzs:
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/20/21982638-alleged-child-sex-abuser-caught-after-tip-from-burglar?lite

Alleged child sex abuser caught after tip from burglar

A soccer-coach has been arrested in Spain after a thief broke into his house and stole videotapes containing incriminating footage of child sex abuse, Spanish police said.

The thief must have realized what he had taken some days after the break-in and called authorities anonymously from a pay phone to say he had evidence of the alleged crimes, police in the southern city of Jaén said in a statement on Thursday.

The alleged thief left the three videotapes -- which according to police contain footage of the suspect abusing children around 10 years old -- in a brown envelope under a car in the street.

The envelope included an anonymous note with the coach's address and a short message that read: "I've had the misfortune of having the tapes fall into my hands, and feel obligated to present them to you so you can do your job and put him ... in jail for life."

Police searched the address in Jaén and arrested the coach on suspicion of child abuse. They did not release the suspect's name.

Investigators allege the man gained access to minors through his position as a coach and made them watch pornographic films before sexually abusing them.

Four alleged victims have been identified by officers, including a girl under the age of 16 who police said was abused from the age of 10.

The coach reported the burglary nine days before he was arrested. He told police electrical items had been stolen, but did not report the camera or videotapes which allegedly contained the incriminating footage.

temple_of_dis:

--- Quote from: Gregzs on November 22, 2013, 10:59:08 PM ---The One Person Archive

http://www.fastcompany.com/3022022/the-incredible-story-of-marion-stokes-who-single-handedly-taped-35-years-of-tv-news

The Incredible Story Of Marion Stokes, Who Single-Handedly Taped 35 Years Of TV News

From 1977 to 2012, she recorded 140,000 VHS tapes worth of history. Now the Internet Archive has a plan to make them public and searchable

In a storage unit somewhere in Philadelphia, 140,000 VHS tapes sit packed into four shipping containers. Most are hand-labeled with a date between 1977 and 2012, and if you pop one into a VCR you might see scenes from the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Reagan Administration, or Hurricane Katrina.

It's 35 years of history through the lens of TV news, captured on a dwindling format.

It's also the life work of Marion Stokes, who built an archive of network, local, and cable news, in her home, one tape at a time, recording every major (and trivial) news event until the day she died in 2012 at the age of 83 of lung disease.

Stokes was a former librarian who for two years co-produced a local television show with her then-future husband, John Stokes Jr. She also was engaged in civil rights issues, helping organize buses to the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, among other efforts. She began casually recording television in 1977. She taped lots of things, but she thought news was especially important, and when cable transformed it into a 24-hour affair, she began recording MSNBC, Fox, CNN, CSNBC, and CSPAN around the clock by running as many as eight television recorders at a time.

She'd feed a six-hour tape into the recorders late at night. She'd wake up early the next day to change them (or conscript family members to do the same if she wasn't home). She'd cut short meals at restaurants to rush home before tapes ended. And when she got too old to keep up, she trained a younger helper named Frank to run the various recording equipment.

But the majority of her days were structured around paying attention to and saving whatever was on the news. "Pretty much everything else took a back seat,” says her son, Michael Metelits. “It provided a certain rhythm to her life, and a certain amount of deep, deep conviction that this stuff was going to be useful. That somehow, someone would find a way to index it, archive it, store it--that it would be useful.”

Stokes bought VHS tapes by the dozen. As she recorded, she made stacks so high they would fall over. The project took over several of the apartments she owned. “It was just a logistical nightmare--that’s really the only way to put it,” Metelits says. When people asked her why her home was filled packed with televisions, recorders, and tapes, she’d tell them, “I’m archiving, that’s all.”

How One Woman’s Eccentric Hobby Became Another Man’s Treasure

To acquaintances, Stokes’s extremely time-consuming and expensive passion for archiving could seem eccentric.

Roger Macdonald thinks it's heroic. He's the librarian who runs the television portion of the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization dedicated to building a free Internet library. Since 2000, his team has been recording national television news to a digital format in hopes of one day making it all part of a searchable archive (broadcasts from the last four years are already available). His system is much simpler than Stokes’ elaborate video cassette juggling act--it’s just a very small rack of computers with discs spinning and cables going in and out--but the visions behind both projects are aligned. “Television has been our most pervasive and persuasive medium,” Macdonald says, “but we’ve never really had much of a pause and rewind button on our experience of it to reflect back on television news, to compare and contrast and mine it for knowledge.”

When Macdonald heard about Stokes’s massive archive, he emailed her son for more information. He got an answer but it only made him more curious. So he called. “Everything I learned would ratchet my eyes ever wider. How many tapes are we talking about? How did that work? How did the family live like that? It’s just an amazing, amazing story.” The Internet Archive had received large collections of 100 or 200 tapes from individuals before, but nothing quite like this.

John Lynch, the director of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive had a similar reaction. “Normally when we get someone who calls in about a collection, we try to send them somewhere else really quick, because the nature of our collection is that we record things ourselves,” he says. But there was a special significance in what Stokes had accomplished.

Early broadcast news isn’t easy to find, Lynch says, because while networks often did a good job of archiving the footage they used to make the show, they were less meticulous about saving the show itself--a pattern he attributes to “a sense of modesty on their part.” More recent news reports are more likely to be available from stations themselves, but stations typically charge an access fee.

The Vanderbilt Television News Archive is one of the most, if not the most, comprehensive collections of television in the world. It has its own news recordings going back to 1968, and researchers can borrow them on DVD for a small fee to cover the costs of operation. Having been sued by a network during its early days, however, the organization is careful about the way it shares its content (“We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we want to be careful to not mess it up,” Lynch explains). It does not post all the footage online for anyone to access instantly.

The Internet Archive does want to make a television news archive available for instant search online. But it can’t simply borrow content from some place like Vanderbilt. It relies on donations for content recorded before 2000. So Macdonald agreed to accept, digitize and index Stokes’s archive.

“Some local news will be lost forever,” he says, “but who knows, because there may be other Marion Stokeses out there who had that similar passion.”

Turning 140,000 VHS Tapes Into An Archive

The Internet Archive wasn’t sure it would be able to digitize some of the older tapes, and Metelits sent them some samples to test. Arrangements have since been made to ship the rest of the tapes to the Internet Archive’s temperature-controlled storage center in Richmond, California. Shipping will cost Stokes's estate about $12,000. When the tapes arrive, they’ll sit until someone puts them into video players, one at a time, and begins to digitize them for the archive, a process almost as arduous as recording them in the first place.

“It will take a long time,” Macdonald says, “Like the little engine that can, we’ll just keep plugging away at it.”

There weren’t any provisions for the tape collection in Stokes’s will, but anyone who knew her knew she wanted them to be used as an archive. She had been born at the beginning of the Great Depression, and like many people of her generation, saved a lot of things. Scattered throughout the family's various properties, she had stored a half-century of newspapers and 192 Macintosh computers. But the tapes were special. “I think my mother considered this her legacy,” Metelits says.

The value of home-recorded newscasts isn’t immediately obvious, but when the collection becomes public, there will likely be many unanticipated ways to use it. Lynch remembers one year, back when students at Vanderbilt still had to physically visit its archive in order to use it, he looked through the list of those who had done so. “Every single school inside the university had used us,” he says, “Which meant the fine-arts school had found a reason why they wanted to look at old TV news. What happens is that when you make a rich collection available, there are the things you thought of, the reasons why you thought it was valuable, and those may be very much right--but what happens is that it turns out it has a life beyond that.”

On a trip to San Francisco in September of this year, when he visited the archive, Metelits saw the first digitization of his mother’s work. There, on a screen, was Ted Koppel talking about the Iranian Hostage Crisis on Nightline. Metelits started to tear up. And he did again when he recounted the story. “The idea that my mother’s project could be useful to someone was really kind of an emotional moment,” he says.

He recalled how Stokes had a habit of watching two televisions at once, and her son says she could pay attention to both at the same time. Plus, there were often several more televisions running without volume in bedrooms and hallways as they recorded other channels. It was a chaotic environment for most everyone but Stokes.

The day she passed away, December 14, was also the first day in a long time that no one changed the tapes. The house was quiet and absent the usual flickering screens casting frantic shadows. “Over time, I came to respect her project, but it wasn’t my project,” Metelits says. “It did feel weird, but it felt oddly kind of... the apartments were kind of peaceful in a way they hadn’t been in a long time.”

Had the TVs been on that day, they would have all carried news of the same event: the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"I got to the house and this horrific news was going on," Metelits says. "Kids being killed. Teachers being killed while shielding children, that sort of thing." He takes a pause. After about a minute he breaks the silence. "I remember being very grateful that that wasn’t the last news she saw."



--- End quote ---

any old school bodybuilding contests?

Gregzs:
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/31/22124881-dad-files-130m-lawsuit-after-son-in-utah-is-given-up-for-adoption?lite

Dad files $130M lawsuit after son in Utah is given up for adoption

A dad whose newborn son was given up for adoption by the birth mother — without his knowledge — is seeking $130 million in a lawsuit testing the boundaries of a biological father’s rights in Utah.

The adoption of Jake Strickland’s son just after he was born Dec. 29, 2010, was illegal and done “through gross misdirection and … clandestine conduct,” claims the suit filed Friday in the U.S. District Court of Utah.

Strickland alleges the mother, Whitney Pettersson, conspired with the adoptive parents, the adoption agency and attorneys to give up the boy — named “Baby Jack” in the suit — without allowing him to seek custody.

The complaint also strikes at Utah's parenting laws, accusing them of being “pro-adoption and anti-birth father.”

Attorney Wes Hutchins, speaking on behalf of Strickland, said his client just missed his son’s third birthday on Sunday — and is devastated that he can’t share important milestones in the boy’s life.

“It’s pulling him apart,” Hutchins told NBC News on Tuesday.

On his son's birthday, Strickland and his family gathered around a candle to sing “Happy Birthday” to his absent son, Hutchins said.

“They still think about him even though they don't have contact,” he added.

Strickland and Pettersson first met in 2009 as co-workers at a restaurant, according to court documents. Strickland said Pettersson was having problems with her marriage, and she later told him she got divorced. They began dating, and three months later, she texted him that she was pregnant.

Strickland left Utah for a temp job in Texas, but said he assured Pettersson that he wanted to be present in their child’s life, according to the lawsuit. He started a fund for the baby boy. The couple came up with a name: Jack.

But after Strickland returned to Utah, the romance dissolved. They began discussing parenting options. He said he told Pettersson that he would consider signing up with Utah’s putative father registry, which is how unmarried men can document with the state that they want parental rights.

But Strickland didn’t register. According to Hutchins, Pettersson warned him that if he did, she “would view it as an act of distrust” and keep his child from him.

“I don’t know if it was done as an act of vindictiveness,” Hutchins said.

Pettersson couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday, and attorneys involved in the adoption weren’t immediately available. The adoption agency, LDS Family Services, operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Strickland continued to financially support Pettersson, who also had a child from another relationship, until her alleged lies about their son began to unravel.

On Jan. 5, 2011, Strickland said he was astonished to learn that Pettersson had given birth  a week earlier — unbeknownst to him. He also learned she was still legally married, which meant her estranged husband was the presumed father under state law.

The most devastating discovery, Strickland said in the lawsuit, was that Pettersson had already given up their child for adoption.

She even got her then-husband to agree to the adoption by telling him that he would be the one saddled with child support payments if she kept the boy, according to Hutchins.

Strickland, who now lives in Arizona, mounted a paternity claim. But his fight was complicated because he had never registered with the state for his paternal rights.

Despite contesting the adoption, Strickland learned in November 2011 that it was completed.

After a 2nd U.S. District judge shot down Strickland’s bid to gain custody, he filed an appeal to the state. His case is still under review.

Concurrently, Strickland’s federal lawsuit is seeking $30 million for the loss of the parent-child relationship caused by the adoption and $100 million as a deterrent to ensure another dad doesn't suffer his fate.

Hutchins said Utah’s laws are onerous on biological fathers who try to gain custody, noting that they must file a paternity petition, get a sworn affidavit, create a detailed child care plan and prove they were financially invested in the pregnancy, among other requirements.

Strickland’s custody case, meanwhile, isn’t the only one gaining attention in Utah. In another high-profile petition, Colorado dad Robert Manzanares is fighting for sole custody of his daughter, whom he claims was unfairly given up by her birth mother when the woman fled to Utah.

Utah State Sen. Todd Weiler told NBC affiliate KSL-TV that despite the increased interest in the issue, he’s not persuaded that Utah laws need to be dramatically overhauled.

“What we’re looking at in this lawsuit and a few other high-profile lawsuits are one or two bad examples out of 10,000,” Weiler said. “I don’t think it’s good policy for the state to look at one or two exceptions and say, ‘Let’s change the laws for everyone.’”


 

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