Monday, August 27, 2007

Where the wild things are

Above, glinting like an unkept promise, are the words: "The internet. And sometimes history." The internet, I think we have talked about. But history? It will be—sometimes. The indefinite quality of those words is maddening. I mean, right?

But today, your long wait is over. Sometimes. Is now.

Except also, this will be a little bit about the internet.

Fortunately for you, and extremely fortunately for me, the two have combined forces in the unstoppable venue of the New York Public Library Digital Images Gallery. Google Image Search is great and everything, but I'm pretty sure it has no search parameter for "Can you please make sure that the image results of this search look really appealing and really old?" The NYPL Digital Images Gallery is the answer to that very reasonable plea. And it is fantastic.

Exhibit A: Browsing. Dive into the NYPL Gallery through some guided pathways, like crazy forests of beautiful pictures. But beware: this can be a pretty major timesink. Witness the contents of this collection of cigarette cards. (Cigarette cards were an early form of advertisement.)

For the record, that's The Fox and The Common Seal. Adorable AND historical. I told you; it's an unbeatable combination.

Exhibit B: Search. You ask for monsters, NYPL Digital Images Gallery gives you:

MONSTERS. Or, in this case, an exquisite drawing of "The fish in these parts. A sea monster. The Guine." Perhaps I, the entertained viewer, do not completely understand the provenance of these beautiful pictures. (Although there's plenty of information to be had on that, as well.) But I am intrigued. I want to know more. And most of all, I want The Guine to be my desktop wallpaper. Because honestly, he's kind of adorable too, whatever he is.

So, in short, not only is the NYPL Digital Images Gallery an unbelievable historical resource, it's also a great game. If you are like me, you will play it often.

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