• Reversing urban decay: Instagram for historic preservation?

    As a curator for our virtual museum, Toledo’s Attic (which began in 1995: www.toledosattic.org), I have been interested in crowd-sourced curation as a curation program in addition to our more traditional ones.  I started a gallery that received feeds from Instagram as long as the photos are tagged #toledosattic, and they appear in our Fall 2012 exhibit titled “Local History through the Public Eye” (http://www.toledosattic.org/index.php/socialmedia/instageogal), and have received nearly two hundred feeds (all of them visible via Statigram).   Needless to say, the #toledorephotography series took the lead, but since the submitter and creator of those photographs is presenting at TedXToledo on September 19, I will not steal his thunder here.

    As I have looked on, I also discovered another treasure for local historians interested in historic preservation: namely the urbex, urban experience, urban decay tags.  These bold photographers go into neglected but often very beautiful buildings (including the Michigan Central Station now standing alone watching over other decaying structure like itself), capturing details that can be useful to historic preservationists.  Can the two communities — preservationists and instagrammers — be brought to the table?

    Two other questions arise: 1) Can instagram be applied more broadly to historical preservation and other efforts of local historians, archivists, librarians, and museum curators?  2) Can the Library of Congress also archive Instagrams like it has started with Twitters? Unlike twitter, Instagram provides generous space for tags and descriptions (no 140-character limits!).  Plus, Instagram allows mapping.  A discussion would focus on the application of new technologies to old questions on preserving images for preservation efforts and if that is not possible, retain those images in digital archives as a resource for historic preservation programs.  Thank you for your interest in this topic in advance!

    If you get a chance to look around Lawrence Technological Universities, please inquire about the Gordon Bugbee collection of architectural images in the Library.  That as well as the Albert Kahn reading room are unique resources for historical preservationists and architecture historians.  How do I know? I was privileged to do my practicum at LTU 10 years ago!




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