California Genealogical Society hosted two photo scanning sessions with the online photo storage site 1000Memories.com. I had already heard of the company because last June someone from the company contacted me. She was interested in talking to me about the service and having me test some of the new features. She mentioned that the company was backed by the people from Ancestry.com. We did not end up connecting back then, but today she was one of the people leading the scanning session. The attendees had the opportunity to test the new "Shoebox" app (so called because many people store their photographs in shoeboxes) for the iPhone and iPad. 1000Memories even brought "loaner" iPhones for those of us who didn't have one. (Because I don't have a smartphone of any type, I did not think to ask if 1000Memories has plans to release Shoebox for the Android platform. There's nothing on the Web site about future platform releases.)
1000Memories has partnered with the Internet Archive to give as close to a guarantee of permanent digital storage and accessibility as is probably available today. The service is totally free and the intention is to keep it that way. You can upload your photos, tag them with names, dates, and descriptions, and link them to a family tree on the site. As with most social networking sites, there are various levels of privacy controls, so that if you want you can allow other people the ability to view photos you haven't identified and contribute more tagging information.
The main reason for the scanning event today was to let people know about the new iPhone/iPad app. The app works with the built-in camera on the Apple device and lets you tag or rotate photos before you upload them. The upload function is built into the app.
The really cool feature of the app is its "perspective correction" ability, which allows you to deskew the images you have captured. I'm sure most people who use digital cameras have had the experience of taking a photo of a document, book page, or photograph and found that the perspective was a little off. Maybe you took the photo at an angle, and the image comes out wider at one end than the other. The app shows you a frame on the image after you have taken the photo. You can move the corners to frame the image the way you want, and the app then squares the image corners and fixes the skewed appearance. The resulting final image looks much more like the original and, if the original had text, is easier to read. I did find some bugs in the app the 1000Memories people didn't know about, all having to do with the framing feature.
I personally won't be using the app. Not only do I not own an iPhone or iPad, I used to work in publishing, I own a flatbed scanner, and I have professional graphics software to edit my digital images. But for the many people who do have iPhones and iPads and who don't have the professional experience and equipment I do, this new app is a convenient and easy way to scan those stacks of photos that tend to accumulate. Once you get the hang of the app you can move along pretty quickly. The photos are posted online, but if you don't want to share them with others, you can keep everything private. I plan on scanning photos where I don't know who is in them and e-mailing a bunch of my cousins to see if they know.
I really like the commitment 1000Memories is making for permanent free storage for people's photos. I think the Internet Archive is an ideal partner. The only thing that gives me pause is the connection with Ancestry.com, which was not mentioned during today's scanning session and is not listed on the company's Web site.
Genealogy is like a jigsaw puzzle, but you don't have the box top, so you don't know what the picture is supposed to look like. As you start putting the puzzle together, you realize some pieces are missing, and eventually you figure out that some of the pieces you started with don't actually belong to this puzzle. I'll help you discover the right pieces for your puzzle and assemble them into a picture of your family.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Putting Photos Online for Permanent Availability
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