Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Interesting Mice and Men

Good to see the inimitable Russell Brown having a bit a look over the online library fence the other day. He was mostly in praise of the NZ National Library, including LibraryTechNZ , Create Readers , and NZ Poet Laureate .

I thought it might help to offer him a bit more so I wrote off with a bit of a catch up. He picked up the ball with style and posted this - nice one Mr Russell sir:

"Meanwhile, Paul Reynolds got in touch with a few more library links. He reminded me about Papers Past, a (mostly) searchable archive of vintage New Zealand newspapers and periodicals, complete up to the early 20th century. It's really fun.
There's also the Christchurch City Libraries blog (and the library's website).
Paul's comments:

The Library TechNZ guys are indeed interesting.I was talking to a couple of them last week in the National Library. They have a bit of in house sandpit running which is trialling a whole bunch of ways to open up the National Library Image databases, as well as some of the new digitisation projects , including the Maori Affairs/land agent Donald McLean.
They have been playing with PicLens, the Firefox plugin. The current results are just brilliant, especially as they put on screen some of the energy that is bubbling away in there around open access APIs etc"
'Indeed. PicLens is very cool. Looking forward to those APIs too …"

Actually, I also mentioned the new National Library of Australia site. It has a new look and feel. They are also continuing to build their relationship with Picture Australia and Flickr. So if you do go and get the PicLens plugin [which also works with Safari for Mac] - then using the keyword 'Picture Australia" will give you a really great example of what it PicLens can do.

While I am at it I might as well mention some of the fun and games I have been having with an iTouch. I have had one for review for about four weeks and will struggle to give it back - but that's the breaks.

Basically this is the iPhone without the phone - it has some brilliant features - including the touch screen - a lovely photo album viewer and of course a wifi connection. The Safari browser is also a really great precursor of things to come - you can expand and pinch a story on the screen - as well as read email with ease.

On board video
The big personal kick for me was using iTunes to download a bunch of video lectures for playing on a couple of flights to Australia. Three in particular are worth sharing.

Tom Steinberg.
The MySociety Guy talking about his latest mapping project - using London transport and mapping data to create a new mash-up.

The video is of him speaking at an Oxford Internet Institute seminar. Great stuff - especially his call to big government IT project managers. "Stop it - stop building big projects - stop it now - built small loosely coupled web based pieces and make them talk to each other. Brilliant messages - and delivered on a small screen in my hand on a plane - felt like a joined up life.

And for the record, the Oxford Internet Institute has a great back catalogue of their seminars, here.

TED - ideas worth spreading
I have also rediscovered TED video podcasts. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

And it is all online - herewith two examples that came with me on the iTouch to Australia last week.

Sir Ken Robinson
This is a lecture from the UK educationalist Sir Ken Robinson, who believes schools
kills the innate creativity of our children. This video is just great - it also includes him telling one of his favourite stories.

A wee girl is busy at the back of the classroom drawing a picture.
The teacher asks - 'what are you drawing '
The child replies, 'a picture of God' .
'Don't be silly, no one knows what God looks like', says the
Briefly looking up from her work, the child replies,
'They will in a minute'

Charles Leadbeater
This is the UK academic who is a big part of Demos, the think tank for everyday democracy. In this talk he outlines one if his key messages, that innovation should take place everywhere - not in a special place for special people. This is the same guy who spoke at the Library of the 21st Century Symposium and did a brilliant presentation on why libraries need to reinvent themselves as horizontal organisation which leverage place with new expertise and new attitudes.

He is also working on the Atlas of Ideas, mapping changes in the global geography of science and innovation - pinpointing where innovation is coming from and where it is heading.

MacBook Air
Last word on the toy front. I also managed to have a play with a MacBook Air for all of 5 hours - I was supposed to be reviewing it on TVNZ Breakfast TV - but as you can see the presenter Paul Henry had his own ideas - here


Anonymous said...

Yes, good to see libraries getting good press. And thanks for reminding us of some of those other online resources. However I was a little disappointed that there appears to have been no librarian / information manager representatives at the recent Kiwifoo unconference, despite some of the apparently really smart people working in this area.

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