A century’s worth of daily news is stockpiled in a crowded loft in New Orleans. And now --Lisa Fletcher reports the owner is trying to figure out what’s next for his unusual collection.
There's something amazing hiding among the tubes and trash bags in this nameless New Orleans building. Just how amazing isn't even entirely clear to its owner, Joseph Makkos.
Lisa: These bags, these are all newspapers? Do you know how many you have?
Joseph Makkos: It’s actually only been in here for a few months, so thousands, thousands. I think when I did the math, if there was, you know, 3,000 boxes and 12 tubes in each box, that’s 36,000 tubes.
Each containing pristine pages, spanning 1880 to 1929, from the paper of record in the Big Easy: The Times Picayune.
Joseph Makkos: I got it off a craigslist ad, strangely enough.
The son of an antique dealer, Makkos says he knew this was something he had to have.
Joseph Makkos: I enjoy espousing the oddness of even owning this. You know, like, who is supposed to own something like this?
Within the pages are articles, art and images that tell a story of America's past.
Joseph Makkos: They’re trapped in time.
Lisa: .. But about to be set free by this curator's plan to combine an historic treasure with technology.
Joseph Makkos: This is a time where we can actually sort of reach into our historical creativity and be able to slingshot it forward and use it in honestly a whole new way with a whole new set of tools.
From original color designs, to hot air balloons and strawberry fields, Makkos has plans to bring these papers to life through virtual reality and animation, making them functional and immersive.
Joseph Makkos: Can we take that and turn that into a live action scene? The players are all there, the streetcars are there, the carriage is there and we even have Dreamworld here, right?
And allow us to see the past in context with the present. Makkos expects academic libraries and private collectors to be at the front of the line to animate archives, but says the real winners will be individuals who can access historical information in a way that allows them to experience it.
Joseph Makkos: We have the tools, we have the technology, we have the ability to do it. So why not? Why not show people a new a vision of what an archive really can be? The potential at the highest end of what an archive actually could be for a community, a state, a world, a city an individual, a researcher, a student. All those different things. It can be all those different things.
By the way, he got that archive off of Craigslist for free- and he told us he believes if he didn't take it - it would have been thrown in the trash.