The Library of Congress did not know the names of French brothers Michel, age 4, and Edmond, age 2, when the institution uploaded this photograph to Flickr in the summer of 2008. They knew the duo were Titanic orphans. They didn’t know anything else.
The LOC now has that data. They know the kids’ father and why he changed his name when boarding Titanic. They know the name of the woman who took in the kids and raised them. Through Flickr’s users who viewed, commented, liked, and shared that photo, the LOC can now tell a story for what was once a story-less photograph.
The Smithsonian Institution, the New York Public Library, the National Library of Ireland, the NYC Center for Jewish History, and the Stockholm Transport Museum are among worldwide cultural institutions that make up The Commons — a repository of photographs enabling anyone to visit and learn the culture of who we are.
The past is a click away.
Whereas Flickr’s Commons is restricted to photos, the Google Cultural Institute encompasses videos and interviews to revisit the past.
At a time when the world mourns the tragic loss of life in a small town called Newtown, it’s important to remember the past — because remembering the past helps us reconnect with our future.