Monday, March 9, 2020

Smithsonian Makes 2.8 Million Images in 2D and 3D Available to the Public Domain

This is one of the coolest non-healthcare related posts I’ve made in quite a while.  In an amazing example of “your tax dollars at work”, the Smithsonian Institution has made an incredible announcement.
As most of you know, the Smithsonian is a repository of many of the most iconic pieces in history.  The collection is comprised of 19 museums, 9 centers of research, and a 163 acre zoo.  The collection has things like moon rocks, the Wright brother’s plane, paintings of the founding fathers, and Fonzi’s leather jacket (from Happy Days).  Basically some of the most iconic objects and images the world has ever seen are part of the collection.
Now comes the announcement of the Smithsonian Open Access Program.  This incredible program puts 2.8 million digital pictures and 3D models into the public domain.  Why is this such a big deal?  Public domain means no royalties.  Want to make a t-shirt of a George Washington painting & sell it on Amazon?  Done.  Simple.  The picture is yours for the using.
It also means that any individual can take any of the available data (it’s all 1’s & 0’s BTW) and change, add, improve, etc
I’ve always been a big fan of the concept that information wants to be free.  
“This is much more than about access,” Lonnie G. Bunch III, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, said at an Open Access launch event Tuesday night. “We are empowering our audiences, empowering them to remix, to repurpose, to reimagine all the richness we offer. We’re inviting our viewers to become collaborators.”
To go straight to the searchable database of shared images, you can follow this link… and make sure you bookmark it!

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