Mandela archives, letters and notes go online
By Jon Herskovitz
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Thousands of letters, photographs and documents relating to former South African President Nelson Mandela went online on Tuesday in a project aimed at increasing access to the archives which detail his long walk to freedom.
Items including letters Mandela wrote to his family that were smuggled out of prison, his Methodist church membership card from about 80 years ago and hand-written diaries have been digitized and laid out on a website (archive.nelsonmandela.org) designed to look like a museum exhibit.
"The one thing that it does immediately is make a much sought-after legacy available to the world," said Achmat Dangor, the chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
The project, with an initial cost of $3 million, was put together by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and the Google Cultural Institute.
It is a first for Internet giant Google, which has made sure the material is open to all and original copyright holders keep their rights. Google is planning to use this project as a springboard to bring more content on line from other historical figures of the 20th century.
Google has been criticized for trying to use its technological might to wall off material from rivals.
"You can interact with the content. You can search the content. Although we have mimicked the museum experience, we are now in a place where we think we have augmented the experience,' said Mark Yoshitake, who leads project management for the Google Cultural Institute.
Sections such as "Presidential Years" include photos with links to videos, text, personal notes and testimonials laid out for use with typical computers and tablets. Continued...