If you don't know of Alan Lomax, you should. He single-handedly traveled the world to record traditional music across America, Europe and the Caribbean. He amassed over 5,000 hours of sound recordings, and now a team of archivists are posting it online for anyone to listen to.
Long before the Internet was a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee's eye, Lomax had the idea of creating a "global jukebox". As well as those thousands of hours of sound recordings, he also collected 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, and 5,000 photographs. While snippets of the material have been avilable for a while, the New York Times reports that about 17,000 tracks are going to be available free for streaming online by the end of February.
In fact, the NYT article is worth a read in full, particularly the parts that discuss Lomax's early ideas or using computers to analyze and categorize similarities between songs. Sound familiar? [New York Times]