Some of you may have wondered where I have been for the last few months as my posts have become less and less frequent. I hope to go over some of the wonderful (and maybe not so wonderful) news below.
Lawrie’s Mechanical Marvels (LMM)
This is where I have been spending most of my time up to this post. Lawrie’s Mechanical Marvels is a vehicle based mutlimedia project that I have been invovled in with some friends. Myself, Matt, Lawrie and Morgan along with some additional helping hands come together to bring viewers our escapades with cars, tractors, fire engines and trains (albeit the latter is ultimately Lawrie’s domain) – along with various other related topics.
The Internet Archive
While helping out with the Flashpoint project, to which I “curated” around 100 titles for, I came across someone talking about a fella named Jason Scott. Jason Scott for those who don’t know is a legend in the archiving world, an employee of The Internet Archive and the man behind projects such as TextFiles and ArchiveTeam. He’s also a massive advocate for saving things using technology – be that books, software, music, video, web pages, databases or more!
I had seen Jason’s name a lot around archive.org and just thought he was a mere man who simply loved Archiving, without realising just how powerful he is in this realm. After watching some of his videos where he explains the reasons why we should be trying to save everything (one of my favourites being that it is not our decision what historians in the future might find interesting or useful) I got a real boost of ambition to pick up archiving again and finding a platform that was non-profit, well suited and not going to fold tomorrow and take my hard earned time with it.
As of writing I have just pipped 1000 objects uploaded on my account consisting of old items of software, automotive brochures, television adverts, print adverts, radio adverts and jingles, user manuals and many other small things I have found. I hope by the end of the year to surpass 2000 objects, heading strongly towards 3000!
I have written in the past about how I feel the Internet Archive is important and how they lead by example on the frontier of making information free, accessible and obtainable. So much of our data is spread thinly over various websites and services that can disappear in the blink of an eye, so it really does make sense to make as much available as possible. Already via my uploads I have had individuals thanking me for making things available – namely hard to find items of software.
If you’re at all interested in the world of archiving, then I highly suggest creating yourself an Internet Archive account and start uploading high quality tagged data to the database!
So anyone that knows me well will know that I have been an ‘ogger for many years. An ‘ogger is someone who is dedicated to contributing accurate data to the Discogs.com database. However over time I have found I had less time for Discogs submissions and slowly stopped contributing as much as I used too. For two reasons, one of them being my arch nemesis time and the second one finding that so many things that I would find have already been submitted! Now this isn’t a negative, oh no it’s great that so many people are contributing these days however I am finding more and more that there isn’t as much dedication to detail as there used to be; as Discogs becomes more of a music marketplace than a a music database (which admittedly I use it for myself). Along with this various “features” have been introduced and then rolled back (e.g. tracks) or other features are slow to develop, often asking what on earth are they doing with all this supposed money they’re making?
Anyway, as part of my work with The Internet Archive I have been finding that quite a few of my PC games have CD-ROM soundtracks. For the unaware, PC games (along with some other platforms such as the Sony PlayStation) used to stream high quality music directly from Red Book CD audio tracks on the CD-ROM, allowing for high quality audio to be pumped out of your Windows 98 Compaq computer without using up precious megabytes of storage! I found that my copy of Test Drive 4 had some audio tracks but EAC had no idea what they were, which makes it a little annoying considering they were just named Track 1, 2, 3 etc. So I thought that I might be able to get some results with Shazam, nope and the same went for SoundHound and the Google assistant song detection. Slightly miffed I thought, damn I wish someone would make an open-source music identification service. Well surprise, surprise it actually exists! AcousticID is a project that is providing [a] complete audio identification service, based entirely on open source software which I thought was absolutely grand! So I set about reading the various bits on their website to find out how I could help contribute, which then took me to the land of MusicBrainz.
MusicBrainz is a open music encyclopedia which unlike Discogs promtoes sharing its data under open licenses. There’s no marketplace here so there’s no shareholders to keep happy, and also its pretty feature rich to boot! For example it has implemented Discogs ill-fated “tracks”” feature in the way of recordings where each recording gets its own unique identifier that can be linked to multiple releases (these recordings are what then link onto AcousticID), CD ToC calculation, packaging information and a much better way of building relationships between recordings and their covers, remixes and more!
So I’ve been digging out some of my more obscure releases and adding them to their database, all while fingerprinting the audio I get my hands on to help build these databases. So far I have improved or added 68 releases in their database, which isn’t bad for just over a months work with my hectic schedule!
The End of Filmogs & Bookogs
I appear to have missed the email that was issued a few weeks ago regarding the termination of the Discogs sister projects Filmogs and Bookogs, two projects which I have invested too many hours on, due to finanical issues faced by Discogs.
Ultimately this comes as heartbreaking news, and slightly sickening that so much data will ultimately be lost due to this. However a lesson that could be taken away from all of this is to avoid contirbuting to “closed loop” projects like these, ones where there is an overall business aim instead of a community effort (it was clear from the early days that Discogs has dollar signs where their eyes should be).
So what does that mean, well I’m going to try and capture as much of the most important information myself and try and present it here. Ultimately I am concerned with the forgotten, the maligned and the undesired more than the big box office releases – however there’s certainly a place for those to exist as well. As you can probably guess from my previous points I am trying to involve myself in more “open source” projects, where money comes second to data preservation.
I recently came into ownership of a large collection of DVDs and VHS tapes of someone who really liked military related content, so I hope to start talking about those here on my website and keeping an eye out for a MusicBrainz like alternative if ever one should ever arise (something already exists for Books and such here)
So What Next?
Well I have piles upon piles of good stuff here to get through. I am still a core team-member of LMM so that takes up time, along with work and family and all that. I hope to move my contributions on what was formerly known as Bookogs over to BookBrainz and will try and document as much of my Filmogs data here on my own website for now.
Please stay tuned and thanks for visiting 😀