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Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The Journey For Cutting Edge

In a profile of a cutting edge video system in use by Major League Baseball Networks, The New York Times shed light on a little-knowtn system that will ultimately drive future public access to videos of the Rebbe (read the article).

Almost a year ago, JEM's director Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin, along with The Living Archive's Director of Preservation, Dekel Hamatian, visited MLB Networks in Secaucus New Jersey, as part of their planning for a content management system to catalog and house footage, audio, and photographs of the Rebbe.

"The moment we saw their system, we knew we had found the closest thing to what we've been looking to build," said Shmotkin.

Shmotkin and Hamatian should know. Their research on the subject took them to the Unites States Holocaust Museum and the Smithsonian Institution archives in Washington DC, Fox News Headquarters, and numerous other news and film archives across the United States.

After all their travels, they realized that they'd need to build their system from the ground up. "But the MLB visit showed us that a project of this scope can be done, and that our vision of what is possible, is also realistic."

The Living Archive Preservation Project's system will allow the instant ability to locate audio, video, and photographs of the Rebbe on any topic, date, or personality. One implementation of this approach can be seen at

They already knew that the future of the collection would be in an instantly-accessible "tapeless archive." But as it turns out, the key to leveraging the historic archive is in the metadata attached to the materials.

In a blog post shortly after their visit to MLB's multi-billion dollar facility in New Jersey, Hamatian wrote, "One of the more interesting things we saw (possibly even more interesting than actual purpose of our whole trip) was the logging system for inputting their metadata."

Reflecting on the similarities between the two systems, Hamatian said, "Rather than logging balls and strikes, we'll be logging topics, individuals, and keywords. But at its core, the technology that we're building is quite similar."

Shmotkin added, "When you undertake a project this huge, it's reassuring to see the archival community's confirmation that MLB's system is worthy of replication. Add to that the inspiration and learning in the materials which are at the core of the Rebbe's archive, and the scope will be breathtaking."

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