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Wednesday, 26 Mar 2008

Launching The Wall

Today Chris and his team at Footnote announced with The National Archives the launch of their latest project: The Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

It’s a near full-size image - 20 gigabytes - where people can attach photographs, leave comments and read official military information on any of the 58,000+ names of those who lost their lives during the Vietnam conflict.

They are also providing for free newly digitized photos from military archives.

Sometimes the most obvious ideas are the hardest to see - and build. Here’s a sketch from Chris’s notebook the evening the idea struck him:


And a portion of The Wall photograph:


A key idea to making The Wall a unique experience was being able to let people connect documents and stories to any name. Here’s the original sketch of that concept:


The Wall took about 4 months to build and require the expertise of National Geographic photographer, Peter Krogh, and the tireless work of Darren Higgins.

Update: (26 March 2008: 7PM ET) The Wall story was picked up by AP, CNN and MSNBC, which has caused some site performance issues.

Update: (26 March 2008: 10:27PM ET) The Wall is working well and people are sharing.


Posted on Mar 26, 2008 | 8:37 pm EST
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Sunday, 16 Mar 2008

Footnote goes first click free

Free. Free. Free.

On, you can now view any Premium image that has been Spotlighted or part of a recent Member discovery.

Premium images are historic photographs, documents or newspapers newly digitized from The National Archives and others.

Here’s a photo just discovered from our 50,000+ image archive of US WWII photos:

German Bombing Raid

To view the full resolution image of this German bombing raid, go to its Spotlight page and then click on the image.

Posted on Mar 16, 2008 | 1:50 am EST
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Thursday, 28 Feb 2008

Speaking at We Media today: Start thinking like an anthropologist

I (Chris) just finished participating at the Developer’s World panel.

We could distill the message of that presentation (and our last eight years of focus) to this:

Start thinking like an anthropologist.

If you want to create the next big thing, it needs to connect with people in a powerful way.

To do that, you need to understand your customer/reader/audience in a new way. Surveys and focus groups have their place. But you need to feel their pain. You need to feel empathy.

The big challenge is then making sure your developers, designers and senior executives feel that pain, too.

Be less like Rupert Murdoch and more like Margaret Mead

How do you do this? That’s for another post but you can start now my observing friends, family and strangers behave with your product.

When you do make sure to: Ignore what they say. Watch what they do.

Posted on Feb 28, 2008 | 1:55 pm EST
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Wednesday, 27 Feb 2008

At We Media Miami today

Chris is blogging today and speaking tomorrow at 9:15 am at the Storer Auditorium at the University of Miami.

Updates (ET)

3:03 pm: Putting more decisions in the hands of patients requires helping them understand at least the right questions to ask, according to the cardiologist speaking, that’s empowerment.

3:01 pm: Lots of great questions from the crowd.

2:55 pm: Current political debate probably won’t solve it. Will heathcare companies stop being strictly providers but facilitate the conversations.

2:54 pm: Beware of blogging about your pre-existing conditions. Someday that might haunt you.

2:52 pm: A doctor on the panel says people are too distracted to accurately and thoroughly track their conditions and care. (But why should we be in charge of tracking that?)

2:45 pm: Audience brings up trust and privacy issues. Are we, as patients, just parts of a value chain.

2:20 pm: Humana’s Grant Harrison talks about making health more entertaining. Consumers are saying that health is about doing what you want to do in your life. Humana is looking at connecting customers together, mobile apps and games that encourage exercise by measuring sensors. One idea they are working on: A virtual you from the future that changes based on changes in your lifestyle and eating habits. (Difficult to embrace these idea fully without a better understanding of how they plan on resolving privacy and coverage issues.)

2:08 pm: Listening to a remarkable conversation where healthcare industry experts saying that We Media and storytelling are becoming critical components to solving problems in the world of health care. The shift is moving from authority to enabling dialogue and ultimately a collective voice.

Posted on Feb 27, 2008 | 4:05 pm EST
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Tapping into the Power of Participation

Here are the slides from my (Chris’s) part of Sunday’s NFAIS panel. It was a rare delight to have an instant rapport with such talented and diverse thinkers: Bryan “always on” Alexander from NITLE, Dr Jean-Claude Bradley, a Drexel chemist creating open-source cures for Malaria and our capable yet sassy moderator Sue Polanka.

Here is the annotated deck (Fixed. Thanks, Chris LaLonde! The last slide is extra. It was meant for Thursday’s We Media Miami talk) :

Posted on Feb 27, 2008 | 3:12 am EST
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Tuesday, 26 Feb 2008

NY Times launches newspaper archive viewer: TimesMachine

The New York Times has quietly launched TimesMachine - a way to browse every news page from its beginning in 1851 to 1922.

The TimesMachine has been unavailable this morning today, but those who had a chance to see it tell us you can mouse over stories and have see transcribed version appear, which makes reading easy.

Readers can browse or search by date. But, unlike Footnote, there is no keyword searching or highlighting within pages or other social media tools that let you comment connect pages or your own images together.


Today, our growing newspaper archive (about 400,000 pages) requires a subscription to access. We hope that on the heels of releasing 1 million documents this month, we’ll be able to free some newspapers soon.

But it’s an exciting development for The Times. Newspapers provide such a rich and entertaining view of history.
And the newspapers don’t have to be big metros to be valuable. Here are a few recent examples from Small Town Newspapers found by browsing Footnote:

Dick Tracy Does His Part for the War Effort

Dick Tracy Does His Part for the War Effort

2 Oct 1941 - Relieve Colds - Take 666

To relieve a cold, make a deal with the Devil?

2 Oct 1941 - Telephone Lines - Speeding Up For Defense

Speeding up for defense - just before Pearl Harbor

“More terrifying than accurate...”

Overzealous Police Officer Arrests Japanese Horse Trainer - 12 Dec 1941

“Overzealous Police Officer Arrests Japanese Horse Trainer”

Posted on Feb 26, 2008 | 12:26 pm EST
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Friday, 22 Feb 2008

The Vietnam Wall and the networked story

We’ll have more to talk about soon.


Posted on Feb 22, 2008 | 2:41 am EST
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Speaking at We Media and NFAIS this week

I (Chris) will be participating in two panels this week. The first is Sunday afternoon at NFAIS 2008 Conference in Philadelphia.

I’ll be following Dr. David Weinberger - from Harvard’s Berkman Center and author of Small Things Loosely Joined and Everything Is Miscellaneous - and Lee Rainie - founding director of The Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Tough acts to follow, but I will give it my best shot with “Emerging Culture of the New Information Order: The Awesome Power of Participation and How to Harness It.”


Then on Thursday, it’s the fourth annual We Media Miami conference. Over the years we’ve had a passionate and eclectic group of participants from Al Gore and Esther Dyson to Chuck D. and Craig Newmark.

(Note: We’ve just passed the 225,000 PDF download of We Media with the spanish version far outpacing the english.)

I’ll spend my time trying to convince people of an idea I’ve been acting on: We can tell any traditional story on the web but are there are certain stories than can only be told on the web?

Look here this week for any slides, thoughts and random pictures.

If you are at either of these engagements, please say “hi.”

Posted on Feb 22, 2008 | 1:02 am EST
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Wednesday, 06 Feb 2008

Footnote frees 1 million historic documents and images and Chris have published 25MM historical images from The National Archives and others in their first year.

To celebrate, they have made 1 million of them freely accessible. Registered Footnoters can save any image to their Gallery or annotate people, places, dates and text.

You can also immerse yourself in documents with Fullscreen mode and embed what you find in your blog.

As you can see from the list below, it’s a diverse offering from the Revolution to UFOs.

Keep in mind that many of these documents have never been available online before, so it is likely that there are treasures to be found. Some examples:

A diagram found in the WWII Japanese Air Targets Analyses (WWII) documents…

One of more than 5,000 images from the Brady Civil War photos:

Court documents concerning a WWII jewel heist by three US officers - one of them a woman.

Items Stolen in the Hesse Jewel Heist Case

Free on Footnote

Pennsylvania State Archives 117,831
Project Blue Book - UFO Investigations 129,658
Lincoln Assassination Papers 12,004
Papers of the Continental Congress 171,519
Misc. Papers of the Continental Congress 6,939
George Washington Correspondence 1,030
American Milestones 69
Constitutional Convention Records 346
NH Town Records - Hancock 7,436
NH Town Records - Goffstown 942
Japanese Air Targets Analyses (WWII) 7,845
Gorrell’s History of AEF Air Service (WWI) 74,348
Hesse Crown Jewels Court Martial Case - a $2.5 million heist by American officers in 1945 12,424
Naval Press Clippings 4,045
Brady Civil War Photographs 5,688
WWII - Japanese Photographs 47
Fine Arts Commission Photographs 6,862
Harry S Truman Photographs 1,517
Franklin D. Roosevelt Photographs 587
Dwight D. Eisenhower Photographs 593
Calvin Coolidge Photographs 506
George A. Custer’s Court Martial 339
Foreign Letters of the Continental Congress 474
Ratified Amendments to the US Constitution 9,932
Amistad Court Records 1,800
American Colonization Society 301,266
VA Town Records - City of South Boston 5,209
Domestic Letters of Department of State 181,431
Total: 1,062,687

Posted on Feb 06, 2008 | 2:17 am EST
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Upcoming Keynote Address at PSP 2008 in DC

A quick update: Chris will be giving the kickoff address to the Professional Scholarly Publishing Annual 2008 Conference tomorrow (5 February) on 7 Rules of Social Media: How People & the Internet Are
Changing the Nature of Information and What You Can Learn From It

Jerome Groopman, M.D., Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, staff writer for The New Yorker will also be speaking.

It’s a three day conference focused on communities, content and connectivity.

PSP is a division of the Association of American Publishers. They may not be an organization familiar to you. But they and a lot of other traditional publishers have resolved not fade away in the face of the internet and are - like the rest of us - trying to figure it out.

The slides will be posted here after the talk.

Update: PDF of the slides with notes.

Posted on Feb 06, 2008 | 1:44 am EST
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