Wednesday, 19 December 2007
Following yesterdays visit to the NG (see below) I realised what I am looking for in a new mousemat (which I need). I want a GretagMacbeth colour chart mousemat. Of course, they dont exist, and with good reason, as the colours printed out would be no use for colour benchmarking - but conceptually, it will be very amusing.
The RGB values are available online, so I'll probably make up an image and get it sent off to photobox for printing out mousematty wise, for my xmas present to self. I'm easy pleased, eh?
Alternatives would be this hexagonal web safe colour mousemat (although web safe colours? meh!) from Visibone. I am of course obsessed with the rug which is available from John Lewis at the moment of the different sample colours that their rugs can be made in - which has become a surprise best seller for them. Beautiful. We'll have to measure up at home...
Yesterday, I was really lucky to be given a behind the scenes tour of the digitisation workflow at the National Gallery, London. Colin White, from the photography department, spent some time showing me around the various studios, archive, offices, and talking through the process of capturing and disseminating digital images of the collection.
Interesting insights? The emphasis on consistency of the images - rigourously benchmarked and checked - and the close relationships between the digitisation team, the print on demand service, and those developing new and novel ways to explore and examine the collection. It was also interesting to see how many dedicated staff there were looking after the relatively concise collection - making sure things were done properly, for posterity. I have to say, of all the projects I've seen round, they are really taking on board issues of workflow and quality and grappling with the issues of image veracity that we all are in this digital age. It was a really useful day for me, and thanks to the team for showing me round.
Now I'm looking forward to the redesign of their webpage, which should be happening later next year!
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Monday, 10 December 2007
We live in a culture dominated by pixels, increasingly unmoored from corpor-eal reality. Movies are stuffed with CGI and, in such "performance animation" films as "Beowulf," overwhelmed by them. Some big pop-music hits are so cyberized the singer might as well be telling you to press 1 if you know your party's exten-sion. Even sculpture has adopted digital "rapid prototyping" technology that allows whatever a programmer can imagine to be translated into 3-D objects in plastic. Why should photography be any different? Why shouldn't it give in to the digital temptation to make every landscape shot look like the most absolutely beautiful scenery in the whole history of the universe, or turn every urban view into a high-rise fantasy?
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
Thursday, 29 November 2007
Museums have recognized that their online collections are not doing the job — we’re hiding the content away from nonspecialists,” said Jennifer Trant, a partner at Archives and Museum Informatics in Toronto. “We’ve got to provide access on the same level as visual memory.”
Now, after spending millions of dollars and years of effort on their virtual homes — which draw many more visitors than their physical ones — museums are rethinking their online collections. They are experimenting with one of the hottest Web 2.0 trends: tagging, the basis for popular sites like Flickr.com. In social tagging, users of a service provide the tags, or labels, that describe the content (of photos, Web links, art), thus creating a user-generated taxonomy, or folksonomy, as it’s called.
For a few years, flickr has been tagging some photos as interesting, calculated in a variety of ways including
Where the clickthroughs are coming from; who comments on it and when; who marks it as a favorite; its tags and many more things which are constantly changing. Interestingness changes over time, as more and more fantastic photos and stories are added to Flickr.
The most interesting photos from the last 7 days are up in a seperate section, which changes on every load.
But those are just photos selected from the millions uploaded every... day? to flickr now. An alternative venue to view beautiful, arresting, or just plain interesting digital material can be found at www.ffffound.com an image bookmarking site that allows the blogosphere to pull together all that is best in interverse imagery. It changes from minute to minute. A great place to view, wonder, and explore.
Monday, 26 November 2007
We remove a box, designed to repel acid (paperback books need to be kept this way if their shelf life is to consist of more than a few years). Inside, we find not only a marvellous new book about the Port of Ayr, but also a book called Momentum In Football, featuring a foreword by Sven-Göran Eriksson. Wouldn't it be great if you could just sell this stuff on eBay or recycle it sensibly? Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could digitise such books and pulp the hard copy? Think of all the shelf space you'd save.
"Trust me, it isn't as simple as that," Peter Fox [librarian of Cambridge University Library] replies. [link]
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
In the lab, everyone was blogging away like pros, and Rudolf got them to tag the entries with the course code, so they were easily visible to all. I wonder how many students will keep up their blogging habit now they have been shown how easy it is?
A subscription to the New York Times costs $13.99 per month on Kindle. A popular blog, such as BoingBoing will cost $1.99 per month for Kindle owners.
Owners sending files they already own to their Kindle will incur a ten cent charge.
Uhuh? And its super fugly.
And you probably cant take it into the bath/read it on a plane when you are taxiing/chuck it in your handbag when commuting and not fret about pickpockets.
Interesting how amazon.com makes a big song and dance about it - but its nowhere to be seen on amazon.co.uk.
Monday, 19 November 2007
Here is a video in which Jeffrey Katz from California's Computer History Museum takes a tour of computers through the decades - such as the Eniac, early punchcards, early IBM computers, etc. Worth 5 mins of your internet addicted time.
But these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly addiction: cyberspace.[link]
They come here, to the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, the first camp of its kind in South Korea and possibly the world, to be cured.
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Pan Images is a prototype image searcher which uses automatic query translation to search both flickr and google, returning searches in hundreds of different languages including Dutch, Hindi, Polish, Russian.... etc etc etc. The web is much bigger again. My lectures are full of interesting slides. Peace is restored to the Kingdom.
Monday, 12 November 2007
Well, today, we made it into the Guardian. The print copy also contains the photo.
Evidence for this unlikely renaissance is readily available at passiveaggressivenotes.com, an online clearing house that allows sarky notes from employers, flatmates, landlords and strangers to be posted anonymously so that all the world can speculate about the wellsprings of pent-up anger motivating their various authors. "Ben - I have a concern about the removal of your futon," begins one effort, sent in by Ben, who found it stuck to his futon when he went to remove it.Other examples of the genre include one from an archaeological site in Silchester, Hampshire ("Missing: 33 pencils, 39 erasers. Search your pockets, search your tent, search your conscience"),
Friday, 2 November 2007
I gave a plenary paper this morning about TEI by Example, which I think went down ok (phew).
One of the things which came out of the comments and questions is the importance of producing introductory materials which show *why* you would bother with this whole TEI markup malarky - getting across a few examples not only of markup but of what you can do once you have marked something up. For those learning TEI, grasping this can really suck people in. My students eye's light up when the penny drops about *why* you go to all this bother, and see the type of transformations and analysis that TEI encoding affords.
Which is something we at TEI by Example must address. hmmmm.
Anonymity is also one of the defining features of public discourse in the internet age: of the millions of people posting comments on blogs, discussion boards and in other forums, most choose not to identify themselves, but prefer to opinionate under a pseudonym. The cloak of privacy is what gives much internet discussion its raw energy, with a great cacophony of unidentifiable voices competing on equal terms. But unnamed writing is also responsible for some of the worst internet vices: intemperate “flaming” of opponents, bullying, dishonesty and a general coarsening of language and incivility. Not to mention self-congratulation and score-settling.
Thursday, 1 November 2007
Continuing the random series of Everyday Ephemera Digitized And Put on the Internet - see a collection of manhole covers from Japan. Just beautiful.
Everything looks better when its in a collection, no?
[link courtesy of pink tentacle - their post has many more links to image collections of manhole covers]
Monday, 29 October 2007
So the last supper is the latest painting to be digitised at high res and made available via an online zoom/pan interface, by HAL9000. 16bn pixels in total. Doesnt bother to say what the original dimensions of the painting are, so we cant work out an equivalent dpi.
This is an interesting example of problems of currency between the way that industry talks about megapixels to describe photographic detail, whereas the library, archive, and memory institute sector are wedded to the dots per inch model: and for good reason, given that the size of artefacts various so very much, and there is no way to tell from the digital surrogate what the original dimensions are.
Still, its an interesting project. Even if they slap their logo over the image repeatedly, which as you know is one of my big bug-bears. An interesting thing to see if just how poor the condition of the original is - which is a story within itself (there is lots of information and there are lots of rants about this online).
And the language used to describe digital media still baffles me. Check out the bbc's coverage of this project. Spot the weird phrasing. In what way is a larger image "stronger" than one of a lower resolution - its not weaker or stronger, its just a different representation. And no mention of the fact that such large format works are rarely captured with one picture of a 10MP camera.
Which matters, as the bbc is a "true" source for many people out there. *sigh*.
Monday, 22 October 2007
Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa originally had eyebrows and eyelashes, a French inventor has claimed after digitally scanning the painting.
Interesting (if a little gimicky) bbc news piece about the kind of information that infrared and ultraviolet scanning can provide art historians.
Hard to say what this means in the big scheme of things - but interesting to ponder nevertheless.
But as it prepares to celebrate its 10th birthday, Google has developed serious engine trouble. A series of missteps have left it facing claims that it has gone from a benign project – creating the first free, open-all-hours global library – to the information society’s most determined Big Brother. It stands accused of plotting some sinister link between its computers and us: that it wants, somehow, to plug us into its giant mainframe – as imagined in The Matrix or Terminator.
Monday, 15 October 2007
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Todays choice, in particular, is the Bridgeman Art Library website. I'd recommend it as a place to idle away those art historical yearnings. Crowding round a slide cabinet all trying to see miniature slides of Giotto all seems another lifetime away - only a few years on since I remember elbowing Zoe in the ribs to try and get a better look at the annunciation. The Bridgeman has 323 images by Giotto alone available online. (Maybe having resources like this available would have improved my student essays!)
Monday, 8 October 2007
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
... but I have various issues with the project, below. Because I didnt get the image, below, from the Zoo. I saw it on the BBC website, nice and clear without a huge copyright logo across it. The zoo itself features images, as above, with a large watermark.
Now, I understand that you dont want pesky people downloading stuff off the Internet and making money selling teatowels or christmas cards of your nice historic photos. But low grade, small jpegs? is there any reason to contaminate them with the ugly copyright mark? Pray tell, what are people going to do with these images? Thats right - maybe feature them on their blogs and publicise the service, like I am doing? (The images are copyright ZSL, by the way).
The ZSL print service is clearly a money-making effort for the Zoo - fair enough, they do important work, and could do with more funding. But I cant feel that they have missed a small trick here. The site concentrates on selling these images as mousemats, fridge magnets, photographs: there is very little metadata describing the who/why/where of the photographs. And branding them in this manner makes them almost unrecognisable, in some cases.
Watermarking digitised images was all the rage 10 years ago, when we didnt know if we could trust those pesky interweb users. Even then it was noted that
Safeguards are nearly always imperfect. The most realistic objective is to make misuse economically unattractive. [link]
But by now we should realise that digitisation is like making wine. Give people a free glass and they may buy the case. Show of your wares (at low res), and provide contextual information. They may leave with the mousemat. Treating people as if they are about to hack into the site and steal the images (who, me?) isnt the way forward.
London Zoo (or more properly, The Zoological Society of London) have just put up a collection of historical photographs of the Zoo, in their print store. See what the zoo was like in 1914! Look at the zebra's pulling a cart! etc. An interesting selection, and worth a peek.
This photo: Lady with Chimpanzee, 1928. [link]
Monday, 1 October 2007
Thursday, 27 September 2007
You might think your anonymous online rants are oh-so-clever. But they'll give you away, too. A federally-funded artificial intelligence lab is figuring out how to track people over the Internet, based on how they write.
The University of Arizona's ultra-ambitious "Dark Web" project "aims to systematically collect and analyze all terrorist-generated content on the Web," the National Science Foundation notes. And that analysis, according to the Arizona Star, includes a program which "identif[ies] and track[s] individual authors by their writing styles." [link]
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Although Auschwitz may be the most notorious of the Nazi death camps, there are only a small number of known photos of the place before its liberation in 1945... Rather than showing the men performing their death camp duties, the photos depicted, among other things, a horde of SS men singing cheerily to the accompaniment of an accordionist, Höcker lighting the camp's Christmas tree, a cadre of young SS women frolicking and officers relaxing, some with tunics shed, for a smoking break.... The photos provide a stunning counterpoint to what up until now has been the only major source of preliberation Auschwitz photos, the so-called Auschwitz Album, a compilation of pictures taken by SS photographers in the spring of 1944 and discovered by a survivor in another camp. Those photos depict the arrival at the camp of a transport of Hungarian Jews... The comparisons between the albums are both poignant and obvious, as they juxtapose the comfortable daily lives of the guards with the horrific reality within the camp, where thousands were starving and 1.1 million died. [link]
The online exhibition on the museums webpage contains many of the photos, and an introduction by the archivist.
Important stuff. At a conference, I once asked someone who was collecting oral history about the Holocaust why they were only collecting testimonies from the victims, rather than the perpetrators. Their reaction suggested that this question should not be asked in polite society.
Thursday, 20 September 2007
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland have just put online 100 fascinating historical photographs - some old and some modern - from their archive. The online audience has a chance to vote on their favourite: (I always find these votes somewhat spurious but) the images themselves are well worth a few minutes of browsing.
What is also interesting about this project, Treasured Places, is the way they've embraced the web 2.0 facilities about comment sharing, making your own shortlist, etc. Will be interesting to see if it takes off.
Shown here is of workers on the Forth Road Bridge, with the Rail Bridge in the distance. Taken by W Ralston Ltd in 1961, Sir William Arrol Collection. © Glasgow Archives and Special Collections | SC881869. [link].
Tuesday, 18 September 2007
Monday, 17 September 2007
Just back from a holiday in Estonia and Latvia. Estonia must be the most wired country I've been to - wifi symbols everywhere (strange place to make an annual intertube fast, then). Latvia... not so much. Every now and then in rural latvia there was a giant road sign pointing to "INTERNETS", generally at a library, where people could access the 'net. Just shows the importance of libraries to the rural environment.
The picture above is from the Vaide horn museum, near the Kolka cape, Latvia. (The horns are not hunting trophies -they are discarded horns found during environmental protection inspections over a period of thirty or so years.) Strikes me as the kind of memory institution that digitisation wouldnt serve very well.... the whole point is the atmosphere of being there. In fact, I can find very little about it on the web at all.
Friday, 31 August 2007
This blog isnt abandoned.... I'm just making one of my bi-annual 2 week internet fasts, to remember what the world is like when you are not intravenously online. See you late September, and I leave you with an engraving of Venus swimming in.... Margate??????
From Wellcome images:Venus's Bathing (Margate) A woman swimming in the sea; in the background people are looking out to sea from cliffs and a beach. Coloured etching.
Hand-coloured etching 1790 By: Thomas Rowlandson
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
The program is suppose to detect the edges of the page. Using this information, it can than warp the image to deal with things like page curl, or crooked photos. On most pages, it wasn’t even close, comically so.
The US Library of Congress sets out to preserve games. At the same time, the UK government is blasted by EIDOS for its lack of support.
Thursday, 23 August 2007
There are many things that I love about the Internet - and one of them is amateur digitisation projects which capture ephemera about modern/recent life for posterity. There has been much talk about web 2.0 and user generated content, but that seems to focus on the pictures-of-folks-on-holiday or vidoes-of-stuff-which-is-newsworthy angle: not on the good folks of the interverse who spend much time finding, cataloguing, digitising, and mounting collections of things online which no institution would have the time, or facilities, or foresight, or interest to go near. (Sure, there are some major and important ephemera digitisation projects out there, such as Electronic Ephemera at Oxford, but that revolves around the digitisation of a collection of objects which age from 1508 to 1939). I adore that people find the time to build shrines to long-defunct comics, such as Misty (although they recently had to take down the complete digitised archive due to copyright issues). Folks that make random collections of things like pictures of a monster or robot carrying off a fainted heroine in his arms (In my arms) - the digital equivalent of a cabinet of curiosities. Museums which would just not get funded in the real world, for whatever reason- such as the Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health: an important, if ramshackle, and often hilarious archive of the development of sanitary products and their advertising. Collections of the real ephemera of life - things found on the ground - passive aggressive notes left for others - random stuff found in junkshops. Its all a hidden, different world and approach than that taken to digitisation within the information profession, but no less important for its lack of institutional backing.
Todays find also demonstrates Fun With Internet Technologies. I have been aware of the Evening Standard Headline Crisis collection of images, depicting gloomy headlines from one of the UK's most... melodramatic? newspapers (and how fleeting are those headlines?), but now comes the mashup: the Evening Standard Headline Generator. Genius.
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
a community collection of images of public textuality, specifically words outside of the usual print contexts. We are interested in words that are:What larks. Worth playing with - will be interesting to see how people are using the API as well.
...You can browse the dictionary, upload your own words, and try typing in a phrase that is returned as images
- In the public view
- In an interesting context where the location adds texture
- Visually provocative in some way
- Part of phrases that add another intersection of meaning
Thursday, 16 August 2007
I'm one of the co-Investigators on the VERA project:
The Virtual Research Environment for Archaeology (VERA) project aims to produce a fully-fledged virtual research environment for the archaeological community. It will address user needs, enhancing the means of efficiently documenting archaeological excavation and its associated finds, and create a suitable Web portal that provides enhanced tools for the user community.Things on the blog, based at the dig on Roman Silchester, have been pretty interesting of late, detailing how to deal with new technology in the field, and the rain. How can you not like a post titled Moving Out and Blowing Up the Generator?
When I was at the dig a few weeks ago, I took some photos, available here. The one above is my favourite. Others seem to think so too - it even got featured somehow on passiveaggressivenotes.com....
Useful, straightforward, and interesting. [link]
Whatever their reasons for joining and posting photos, the 24 million active users have contributed what currently amounts to a staggering 525 million photos on Flickr (as at June 2007).
These figures alone make Flickr a good place to look for images - almost every conceivable subject has been photographed and uploaded to Flickr. Most images are recently taken digital photos, but a large number of users are scanning older negatives and prints and uploading those.
However, quantity does not equate to quality and there are more reasons than sheer numbers that make Flickr a useful starting point when sourcing pictures. That is not to say it is entirely without drawbacks, and this document is intended to highlight its disadvantages as well its strengths.
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
The Wellcome Collection in London have recently updated their website, offering free unlimited access to their image collection under a Creative Commons licence. Nice.
Wellcome Images is one of the world's richest and most unique collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science.
All our images are available on demand in digital form. Search online or use the expertise of our professional scientific and historical researchers.
Whether it's medicine or magic, the sacred or the profane, science or satire - you'll find more than you expect.
This unrivalled collection contains historical images from the Wellcome Library collections, Tibetan Buddhist paintings, ancient Sanskrit manuscripts written on palm leaves, beautifully illuminated Persian books and much more.
[Link] (and the image above is B0004756,"Boy with Aura", Credit N. Seery, Wellcome Images)
I have some friendships conducted almost entirely through email that are very intimate. I think we are getting to the point that a strange kind of relationship would be one where there was no virtual element. We are at that tipping point: how can you be friends with someone who is not online? In a couple of years, we will be no more disturbed by our relationship with virtual worlds than we are by our relationship with broadcast television.[link]
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
how does the Web look now, when it’s no longer seen as the technology of the future, when it’s intertwined with our daily lives and filled by people who are not excited by the mere fact of its existence?Well worth a peek. [link]
At a first glance, this question looks like a purely aesthetic one. One might think it’s almost unimportant. But in fact, nothing demonstrates the state of the Web in general and the state of its services, in particular the ones that follow the Web 2.0 ideology, as clearly as the style and look of ordinary users’ home pages.
I have to say, I dont get it. Whats the different between watching the video on other media, and watching a video of the performance within Second Life? Its not like the musicians are being animated - its a video stream. And what will the quality of the video and the audio be like? How can this recreate the experience of sitting in a concert hall? What is lost - and also what is gained from this?
It seems to me the loss/gain question is a fundamental aspect of digital humanities/ cultural and heritage informatics that hasnt been addressed properly yet. Hmmm.....
Monday, 13 August 2007
open-access, peer-reviewed, digital journal covering all aspects of digital media in the humanities. Published by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO), DHQ is also a community experiment in journal publication.So, an interesting thing just happened in the blogosphere. The thing with DHQ is, we're trying to get stuff up there fast, online, and rolling the content out, whilst determining whats in an issue at the cut off point in time every 3 months (or so). But we still have to test the material, and so we mount it up on a test site for proofreading, before making it proper.
Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave: Examining Will Crowther's Original “Adventure” in Code and in Kentucky, by Daniel G. Jerzjust went up on the test site. But an editor posted to it from his blog (Matt Kirschenbaum) and the Gaming community just got hold of it -http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.int-fiction/browse_frm/thread/607acaf1a279d4dd/bd53b672a185d177#
and there's all sort on interesting comments (including "HOLY MOLY!") and
It is clear on a single reading that this is the most important singlebefore its even been published.
paper ever written on the history of interactive fiction.
The test article is here, but it will eventually move to the real address, here.
Which raises all sorts of interesting points:
- the relevancy of DHQ, and digital humanities, to all sorts of communities we didnt reach before;
- the speed of dissemination of such articles on the 'net
- perhaps the need to revise the architecture behind DHQ, or at least forward things from test to the finished (ie proofed and published) version.
Update: this article made it onto Boing Boing. wow.