Thursday, 11 September 2014

What Isn't Online?


Instagram and Facebook now have a popular trend in common: #tbt, otherwise known as Throwback Thursday. Each week millions of people will dig out their old pictures to upload to social media and embarrass their friends, relatives, but mostly themselves.

The #tbt trend, however, can be really helpful for encouraging people to upload more than old pictures of themselves. Every piece of contemporary information- every current news topic, every photograph shot today, will more than likely be uploaded to the net within hours of its creation. Older material, however, may not have been and hence wouldn't have been unless someone decides to. Whether it's an old article from a newspaper, a photo, a painting or something shot on VHS-C back in 1998- there could be something in a corner cupboard or attic that might interest or assist someone somewhere in the online world.

The #tbt trend is great for encouraging web users to dig around and find archive material, whether it's Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield playing Joseph in a school play, or Mark Zuckerberg in 2005, describing his new application called “The Facebook”  . (Not that the Zuckerberg video was necessarily attached to the #tbt trend, but you see what I mean.)

The majority of retro finds, like the majority of internet content of any age, won't be particularly important. But it doesn't cost anything to put it out there, and once in a while somebody is going to unearth a gem.

One organisation that has uploaded more than a few gems- an entire goldmine of archive footage- is British Pathe. Their Youtube account has more than 85,000 videos featuring funerals, wars, weddings, disasters and plenty more besides. I know nothing about digitising film reels, but old film footage is a fascinating contribution to the web. History nerds could spend their life on Pathe's Youtube page. Other hoarders of footage may soon follow suit and share what they have.

Why not join me and millions of others in digging out retro material every Thursday? You just don't know what people might want to see...

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