All posts by Noah Huffman

Commencement 2010 career advice

This weekend Duke will award about 1500 undergraduate degrees  during the university’s 158th Commencement exercises.  While many graduates will prolong their education by pursuing advanced degrees, some will enter a competitive job market.  Sure, a Duke degree should give these graduates a leg up on the competition, but just in case, job-seekers (and parents) might want to look to our Digital Collections for some additional career advice.

Below are some important tips for you to consider:

1. Parents, “germs are not visible–but they are deadly.” Do your part in the “worldwide fight against dirt” to make sure potential employers find your children spotless and with a “wholesome cleanly odor.” Continue reading Commencement 2010 career advice

Jingles, Singing Commercials, and other Earworms: Highlights from AdViews

The Digital Collections team has been watching a lot of commercials lately.  In fact, in building the AdViews Collection, we’ve digitized, reviewed, described, and published close to 10,000 vintage television commercials dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.  Over the last year, we’ve learned some valuable lessons from our work on AdViews.  For example, 10,000 videos require a lot of server space, spreadsheets can be your friend, and most digital projects take longer than you expect.  More importantly, though, courtesy of hundreds of jingles, we’ve learned not to squeeze the Charmin, that Cool Whip comes whipped and stays whipped, and that Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.

A Little Jingle History

More than commercials today, television ads from the 1950s to the 1970s relied heavily on the jingle.  According to a trusted source, the jingle is “a memorable short tune with a lyric broadcast used in radio and television commercials which are usually intended to convey an advertising slogan.”  While the 1950s marked a “golden age” of the jingle on television, the jingle first appeared on radio during the 1930s as a way to circumvent industry regulations that prohibited direct advertising of products. With a catchy jingle, advertisers could mention a product name during the introduction to a broadcast without explicitly pitching a product.

In the 1950s and 1960s jingles easily made the transition from radio to television.  This same period also saw the rise of the “singing commercial,” a longer format version of the jingle.  In the last few decades, however, commercially licensed pop songs have slowly replaced jingles in television commercials, but some believe that jingles may be making a comeback.

Whether its a jingle, a singing commercial, or a pop song, researchers classify these “pleasantly melodic, easy to remember hooks” as earworms. They even suggest that women may be more susceptible to earworms than men.

While some jingles from our AdViews Collection are more memorable than others, here are links to our Top 10 favorites.

Top 10 Jingles and Songs from AdViews (available via ITunesU)

  1. Schick: “Stubble trouble” (1950s)
  2. Cool Whip:  “Yum, yum, yum, Cool Whip, comes whipped.” (possibly the first Cool Whip commercial)
  3. Western Union: “It’s wise to wire.” (1950s)
  4. Carling’s Red Cap Ale: “Better than beer.” (1950s)
  5. Charmin: “Don’t squeeze the Charmin.”(a classic featuring Mr. Whipple)
  6. Texaco: “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.” (Spectacular choreographed commercial, 1970s.)
  7. Sodaburst (by Birdseye) “The real ice cream soda that makes itself at home.” (most bizarre background singing)
  8. Hasbro: “Hungry Hungry Hippos.”
  9. Hasbro: “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.” (It’s a hoedown!)
  10. Hasbro: “Stick shifters, get’em in gear, gonna make a wheelie, gonna disappear.” (Hard rockin’ 70s jingle)

Answering the important questions.

Recently we implemented Google Analytics to track usage of our digital collections.  Sean has already contributed several great posts about our digital collections use statistics, but one thing I find particularly interesting (and amusing) is that Google Analytics allows us to see the types of keywords our users are entering into Google, Yahoo, and other search engines, and where those keywords lead them in our digital collections.

Not surprisingly, some search queries are common and reveal the subject strengths of our digital collections.  For example, the top three queries that bring users to our collections are “sheet music,” “ad access,” and “history of advertising.”

After scanning through thousands of these search queries, several distinct categories emerge: the known-item query (an exact title in quotes), the URL as query (e.g., and the format query (e.g. “diaries” or “manuscripts”), among others.  The most entertaining category, however, is the query issued in the form of a question.

Below are some of the important questions our users have asked with links to where they’ve found answers to those questions in our digital collections.

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Building the Broadsides Collection: Conservation

What happens when an entire collection goes through the Conservation Department to be processed so that it can be digitized?  What do these collections look like through the eyes of a conservator?  What level of conservation work should a collection get? How long does it take to process a collection?  These are some of the common questions asked of the Conservation Staff.  In our second installment of Digital Collections “Behind the Scenes” we will explore these questions and more.  Below is an overview of the process which is explained in detail in the embedded video.

1.    Sort
2.    Remove Mylar
3.    Assess collection for repair
4.    Repair
5.    Flag problem items for the Digital Production Center
6.    Re-house
7.    Repeat

The next stage of the process is digitization — coming soon!