National Geographic has begun to place their amazing 114-year history of photographic images online in low-rez, watermarked format. I’ve always had a special connection to National Geographic — my parents subscribed throughout my childhood, and I took in much of the world beyond through its pages. This is the kind of database project I would love to have worked on.
I have a few problems with the site, such as the fact that they call the shopping cart the “Product Cart” (like the music biz, all the heart and soul of the artist is boiled down to simple “product”) and the server timeouts calculating totals. I like the concept of having a “lightbox” to store the images I’m interested in.
If you follow through to the shopping cart, you’ll find that you’re charged according to the kind of use you intend to make of the media. I told them I wanted to use an image for a Web editorial for up to five years and was asked to pony up $240.00. Which seems like a lot in the context of a web culture where everything is (seemingly) free, but is really not much when you consider the real and authentic art of the photographers and the integrity of the publication that makes it happen.
In any case, it’s great to see this archive become available.