In a previous post, I described how Google tried to improve its image by creating the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive. Once again, Google has contributed to the preservation of an enormous amount of archival material by digitising nearly 30,000 clips of the Italian Istituto Luce-Cinecittà. These videos are available on a special Youtube channel and cover a period going from 1924 to 1964.
Newspapers such as the Guardian [London] were happy to summarise this event with a title such as this one: “Google to put Mussolini online“. To a certain extent, Tom Kington, the journalist who wrote this article was right: we can now find Mussolini on Youtube. And this comes at a price. I clicked on the link for the Youtube channel, selected a clip, then watched an ad trying to sell me a life insurance and finally saw il duce explaining the benefits of his politics to workers in Turin in 1932. A life insurance before listening to Mussolini, of course it all makes sense now.
The Youtube channel is not limited to fascist Italy though. For those interested in the 1950s, these videos can be an invaluable source to understand post-WW2 Italy. I just wondered what would happen if I typed the name of the Italian colonies in Africa. This is when I understood the potential of what Google was trying to do. I tried to find more information on the Ethiopian emperor and after a fascinating ad for ice-creams, I discovered the wealth of information available about the Italian colonisation of Africa. Cinecittà also released a relatively large number of videos about other African countries and it’s really worth giving this youtube channel a try. For anyone interested in Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea or Somalia (or ice-creams), Google has made a huge quantity of material available.
I can’t wait to see all the comments left by Youtube users. I am sure that this website will become an example of historical crowdsourcing as much as a perfect illustration of Internet trolling.
For more colonial films of the British Empire see http://www.colonialfilm.org.uk/