Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An archaeology of images

I used to work in patents and got to see a whole range of crazy and exciting inventions. Out of curiosity I recently checked out google's "What do you love?" ( and searched for archaeology. For some reason I was surprised when I saw patents for archaeology pop up - so I clicked, not really knowing what to expect.

One of the first patents I saw was "Systems and Methods for Image Archaeology". The idea is that images are utilised and altered all the time so how do we find the source material - what is the archaeology of the edited or remixed images? It's not ground-based archaeology, but an archaeology that reflects our digital-orientated culture. In essence, it is a visual archaeology of the internet, which is both fascinating and questionable. I love the idea, yet I am curious about how it will be used, especially since it will (if the patent passes) become exclusive intellectual property for up to 20 years.

Side note: The person who wrote up the patent decided to include some images as a means of explanation (because patents love detailed lawyer jargon, images can help clarify things quickly). They focused on the political, including Bin Laden and George W. Bush with his mouth covered up - whoever drafted the patent probably has a sense of humour.

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