Alexander Graham Bell's awesome kites

[Read the post]

1 Like

What is with all this promoted CRAP in Boing Boing. This used to be my favorite website, until they sold out…

Reminds me of the story Paul Garber used to tell. When Garber was a boy he lived out Connecticut Ave in D.C. and Alexander Graham Bell was a neighbor. One day Garber was flying a kite out in the street when Bell walked by. Bell told him the kite wasn’t bridled correctly and Garber should bring it down so it could be fixed. Garber said is wasn’t too keen on doing what this old guy said, but he did let Bell fiddle with it. He said he was reluctant to admit it, but the kite did fly much better. Garber went on to spend over 70 years at the Smithsonian Institution mainly working to preserve aviation history. He also made effective use of kites in the Signal Corp in WWII. He also was a big supporter of overturning the law D.C. had at one time banned kite flying in the city. When it was finally repealed, he was a major player in the Smithsonian Kite Festival.


I didn’t take this as a promotion, but rather a slight knock at Nat Geo. I think BB was using the screen grab of the order form as evidence.


What are we promoting here? The fact that you can buy a photo for $700 that ought to be in the public domain? lol


The image is now in the public domain however Nat Geo has the rights to making new photos from the negatives only they possess. You are paying $700 for a new physical object with more than a little historical value, not a copyrighted image.

1 Like

A lot of the kites Bell flew are preserved at the museum to him where he lived in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. I’ve been there a few times and it’s really cool to see all the strange and wonderful stuff he built.


Am I to understand that if you request an image for web-only use, you believe that they print a new photo from the original negative, scan it, and send you a jpeg for $700?


I second the notion of visiting the Bell museum in Baddeck. I went there last summer and it’s amazing all the stuff Bell was into. And it’s cool to see how at the time, news of inventions didn’t travel so fast. Bell basically invented the airplane. It’s just that the Wright brothers had invented it earlier and that news didn’t reach Bell. He studied lots of stuff, including weird things like the correlation between the number of nipples a farm animal has and the number of offspring it produces.


Really the big thing that the Wrights did was invent 3-axis control. For several years after the Kitty Hawk flight they were the only ones making aircraft that could turn effectively…

And while Alexander Graham Bell’s kites were very efficient structurally, they were very inefficient aerodynamically…

I originally missed what NatGeo Creative Studio does but it doesn’t change the fact that the thing you pay for is not the original image.

It doesn’t make any difference when the scan was made, at some point in the (relatively) recent past when that group of media was digitized or fresh for you, it’s still a new work in a different media and being digital, can be licensed in lieu of selling a physical object.

If people can pay $7 for a $3 cup of coffee or $13 for a Bud Light at the Super Bowl, why is it so hard to imagine there being a cost for accessing the Nat Geo archives and using high quality images (arguably some of the best photographs ever taken) on your website? Stock photos from other services have a cost associated with them (and tend to be of much lower quality).

Oh, absolutely, I’m well aware of how that works; my dad works for the state historical society photography archives, where they charge a nominal fee to scan requested images and license high-res historic photos for use that are already scanned and in their database. The bit I was confused by was your comment about a web image being a “new physical object”, as if you’re getting a newly-developed physical print of a historic negative.

For $700, you’d be better off spending a couple’s week-end at the Glen Breton Inn, just a stone’s throw from the famous (well, around these parts anyway) Red Shoe Pub, and you’ll be just an hour or two’s drive to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum - where you can see his fabled kites in person!

Gotta love the triforce kite in this picture.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.