Friday, November 21, 2008

LIFE photos on Google

Here's something I learned about only yesterday: Google is scanning and publishing the LIFE magazine photo archives. The utterly cool thing here is that it not only will include their famous published photos, but the vast quantity of images that remained unpublished. Steve Johnson at the Chicago Tribune asks why LIFE is making these pictures available for free. The answer, of course, is that no one was making any money from them anyway. Now people will know they exist and perhaps become interested in previously-unknown photos. The modest resolution - about the size of a computer monitor - is fine for most uses, especially in educational presentations and the like. But no doubt there will some interest in high-quality prints and so now LIFE can turn a few extra pennies that way.

At the moment, some of the selection is limited. There's nothing under "1920's" that doesn't involve Charles Lindbergh, for example. But it's going to be fun to watch this project grow. If LIFE's published photos are a national treasure, how awesome will it be to see the rest of the stuff that they didn't have space for?

In the meantime, here's a photo of Mark Twain, six years before his death in 1910:

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