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September 15, 2010

Metafun and Metagames

We here at AVPS work hard but, because we really enjoy our work, we find a lot of fun in it to. Like with metadata. Sure, in some ways metadata is just a tool — it does a lot of heavy lifting and is seen as blandly compartmentalizing what is of real value, the content of the object described.

Par example, this image was posted as NARA’s Historical Document of the Day:
...Leathernecks use scaling ladders to storm ashore at Inchon in amphibious invasion September 15, 1950...

“…Leathernecks use scaling ladders to storm ashore at Inchon in amphibious invasion September 15, 1950…”

Of course one thinks beautiful black and white photo, important historical documentation, etc., but the content considered from a wider view also prompts thoughts about how amazing it is that material like this is recorded in the midst of such circumstances. Whatever your feelings about the actions involved, it’s pretty impressive that there are people trained by the military (and has been a tradition of doing such) to go out with the troops and document what is happening on film or video (or digital capture card). This reminds me of some ideas I’ve been playing around with about the roots of independent cinema in military training from the World Wars, but that’s another post.

Like any good archivist, however, after looking at the content I began to look at the associated catalog record. Part of the record description states “General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1927 – 1981; Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1775 – 9999 ; Record Group 127; National Archives.” (my emphasis). Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1775 – 9999…That means the records date back to 1775, but also that the expectation is for the records to continue on for some time into the future (or maybe just that 9999 is the new 2012).

Digging around some more, the creator is listed as “Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. U.S. Marine Corps. (09/18/1947 – )”, which points to the period when around WWII the various services began to develop centralized media production and distribution departments. This also suggests an organizational realignment within the Marine Corps but also within the structure of the government. You can see, via NARA’s great online catalog, that associated creator names include Department of the Navy. U.S. Marine Corps. (1834 – 09/18/1947), U.S. Marine Corps. (1798 – 1834), and Continental Marines. (11/10/1775 – 1798). A little research shows that 9/18/47 is actually the date that the Department of Defense was officially established (partly as a way to decrease inter-service rivalry), and thus the name change. Makes one wonder what the other naming changes relate to historically and how they came about…

A short history lesson and an urge to learn more — Thank you, metadata!

Oh jeeze I’m a nerd.

— Joshua Ranger

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