Bob Marsh said there is a nationwide problem that could be turned into a golden opportunity for Maricopa.
“Everybody my age has a shoebox or 50 of photographs in a closet somewhere in their home,” said Marsh, a graduate of MIT with a degree in computer science. He has decades of experience working for and with Microsoft.
“When they moved here from Iowa or Minnesota, they brought those shoeboxes with them. Those photos contain historical records, faces, clothing, special scenarios and names of people who can be tagged if you digitized the photos.”
Marsh said if those images were then placed into an online cloud and people tell a story about what is known about the photo, they become historically valuable.
“That will become part of the knowledgebase for future generations. Once the Boomers die off, those photos go away. They aren’t time-stamped the way today’s iPhone photos are. The facial recognition doesn’t exist for them in the cloud. They lived in the 1920s, ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s before the digital camera was really a force.”
Marsh said he’s trying to connect with Ancestry.com and see if they are interested in adding these images to their data base and get a pilot project going with seniors in Maricopa to start moving these historic images into the cloud.
“We are an insular community, just as if we were an island off the coast of Hawaii,” Marsh said. “We are between two Indian reservations. You can do things here and word doesn’t leak out. We can get a pilot project going here with a senior center of some sort to use Android and iPhone technology to digitize photos.”
Marsh said with the proper application on a phone, the digital images taken of these old photographs are as good as, and even better than, computer scans of the images.
“With the right app, a senior could scan some photos and get four or eight at a time in one shot,” he said. “Bring them up on a big screen, go in with a mouse and keyboard and tag those photos. Give them a title and sub-title, add names and locations.”
Marsh hopes to nail down several things to get the project off the ground, including determining what phone applications work best and a place to start the project. He is also hoping for partnerships with large technology companies.
“Where seniors could gather around and have multiple work stations. They can socialize while they’re doing it,” Marsh said.
This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.