Monday 30 March 2009

Church bells on Sunday in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Sunday afternoon in Titikaveka, Rarotonga. It is pouring of rain. This is an Oscar performance. Everything stops to admire it, including the chooks, goats, and tourists. Naturally the former take cover. The latter, like me, seem to think swimming in the rain is some kind of totally novel idea.

Woke this morning, at 5am to the sound of the church bells from across the road. The Lord's Day. They had a bit of a performance, then quietened, to begin again at 10am. Ten minutes later the singing from the congregation started. It was wonderful.

Normal transmission may resume before Friday, when myself and McGovern's roving correspondent get back to Auckland. I might even manage something erudite, and wise as I contemplate an island where tourism sits beside a breathing living community which thinks Sunday is a time for family, community, and, of course, very handsome hats.

Ot there again, I might just take my cue from everything around me - be still - thankful and connected.

p.s the image isn't mine - it is from, Flickr from here.

Thursday 26 March 2009

UK Hansard Society: "The Online Campaign - solution or smokescreen?"

An eDemocracy event organised by the UK Hansard Society on 24 March 2009 at the House of Commons. Speakers Derek Draper (, Jonathan Isaby ( and Mark Pack ( discussed online campaigning and took questions.

The video below shows Derek Draper. The others are on the site. So no bias - have a look at al of them. all of it is on the Hustings site, here

The NZ connection
I'm starting to get really interested in the whole field of e-democracy. I'm especially interested in how literate our MP's are around social networking tools. Might do some asking around on this, starting with the basics - e.g. how many MP"s are blogging - on Twitter etc. I found the Hansard Society work on this really interesting. See their site for the details on this research.

This being New Zealand it should be easier to make these kinds of contacts. If anyone reading this is interesting in this field - or has some thoughts on e-democracy, strengths and weaknesses, why not drop me a note, or leave a comment.

Cook Islands
In the meantime I am relocating to a hammock in Rarotonga for the coming week. I am hoping it has wifi!

Talking on the wireless with Jim Mora at National Radio

The Jim Mora Show
I had an unexpected call yesterday from the producer of the Jim Mora, Afternoons, show on National Radio. Could I fill in for an indisposed colleague? Sure, said I. What shall we talk about? You choose , said, he. So I did.

Jim Mora
I talked about a bunch of things that regular visitors to this blog will be familiar with. However, it was still fun to be able to have a real analogue conversation about some of them.

Jim Mora is one of National Radio's best assets. He prepares [believe me some of them don't] is interested in digital [believe me some of them aren't], and better still, has read widely and so can join in a lot of the cultural references that I like to play around in.

For example, I don't think I have discussed Foucault on National Radio before . There again, I probably did with Kim Hill in the old days - but that, as the saying go, feels like another country, so who knows.

The Usual suspects
The MP3 audio link is here. but for the record I discuss, inter alia:
1. Fair Use
The next step in the Sec 92a project - create a space for a discussion on Fair Use. I also get to mention the Sita Sings the Blues post, here.

2. Streetview UK
We also had a chat about the UK Streetview. I don't think Jim is much of a fan but is was too much of a gentleman to let on too much. He and others might be interested in this great comment I got from someone who listened to the sopt.

She said she was using Streetview with her 82 year old mother who has some computer savvy. She introduced her to Streetview. Her Mum has never been to the UK and may never go, but has, apparently, just taken a walk around Hyde Park. Having suffered a couple of small strokes, my correspondent is forever looking for ways to ensure she keeps her diminishing memory as sharp as possible. Sending her off around the virtual world is a great way to do this. ... "

Ain't that a brilliant piece of feedback.

3. The Twitter Thing
Gave this another twirl as well. Got a couple of new twists to it, including the rather bizarre news that TVNZ has a Twitter correspondent, but they are still downsizing the newsroom as part of their economy drive. Feels like an unfortunate combination of events? Maybe they need to watch some more TV - see the next story.

The Thick of It
We also discussed Nat Torkington's recent tweet on two BBC fictional characters, Malcolm Tucker and Jamie MacDonald from the hit comedy The Thick Of It who are now on Twitter.

The Thick of It is a fantastic show - great satire on Westminster politics and the management of the news agenda etc. Having two of the more excitable characters twittering away is a brilliant way of both keeping the dna of the show alert to current politics, as well as keeping the show alive in peoples heads.

All of which only works if it continues to be funny on Twitter - which it is. Check them both - Malcolm, here, Jamie, here The Wikipedia article on the show is here.
I also reported I was now using the desktop software Tweetdeck to manage my Twitter life. I really like it. I still use the Blackberry to tweet outside but this is a great tool to stay abreast from the desktop whether at work or home.

It also also some handy tools - e.g. making tiny URL's - shrinking too long tweets - showing direct messages in their own column etc. Both PC and Mac versions are available, here.

By the by - I twitter at ,

The Radio links - again
And just for the record - there is a full running order of the show, and a link to the interview, here, MP3 stream, here

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Mid week moment

Have had a few UK followers join me on Twitter, which is great. Greetings one and all, including the CILIPGazette editor, Debbie Raven. She posted the video link on Twitter. I loved it.

The French thing
My friend Chad Taylor is back in Auckland for a visit looking very Genet. Also, I'm reading Carole Seymour-Jones , A Dangerous Liaison, the double bio of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Plus it's Wednesday - so it all kind of fits!

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Web site to web presence - response to Bob McKee, CILIP UK

CILIP and Twitter?
Bob McKee is the Chief Executive of CILIP, The UK Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals, and cousin to the likes of the local LIANZA here in New Zealand, and ALIA in Australia. He is also a member of the Governing Board and Executive Committee of IFLA.

Recently, albeit with some style, he has ruffled the feathers of a good few of the more web 2.0 end of the UK library profession by airly suggesting on his blog that CILIP doesn't need to be on Twitter. Or as he puts it:

",,, There's some twittering at present about whether CILIP has (or should have) any "official" presence on various lists or micro blog sites.

The simple answer, of course, is no. In terms of "official" activity, cyber life is just like real like - if it happens in a CILIP-sanctioned space, it's official; if it happens down the pub or in someone else's space, it isn't.

But there's a deeper question to address. As everybody networks with everybody else in an increasingly informal and always-on way, how do organisations maintain a culture of inclusion and, at the same time, retain a methodical approach to work planning, managing, and decision-making? ..."
full post - here
Opening up his blog to outsiders
As might be imagined this view is not universally held, either by CILIP members, or others in the UK library world, and they said so. Some with passion - e.g here

In a move to retake the initiative he has opened up his blog to outsiders - i.e. non CILIP members, and adorned himself with a very light angora hair shirt through a subsequent blog post in which he says, 'CILIP needs to develop a culture of working on the web'. See here.

Let's Try That
He also posted a thoughtful and engaging blog post - let's try that - offering his thoughts on how that might happen, here.

As I note below I have met Bob McKee. He is a very able, intelligent, and indeed, as he points out, convivial guy. However, I was so intrigued by the conversation his post provoked, last night I made a contribution. Re-reading it this morning , I thought it might bear repeating. The rest of the discussion is here - however - this, with some minor edits, is what I posted.


Web sites - the web presence
Greetings from Auckland, New Zealand. Bob and I met in New Plymouth a couple of years ago when he came to visit NZ public library managers, et al. I can totally confirm his description of himself as a convivial chap. He was also insightful, and articulate on many of the issues facing the library profession, especially around professional accreditation.

The post about Twiitter
On his original post on Twitter - well - as my comments below might suggest, I think he is just plain wrong on that one. CILIP needs to be on Twitter starting from today. It's a wonderful place to share thinking/networks

However, I would like to congratulate him on opening up the blog to outsiders and for his more recent comment, "CILIP needs to develop a culture of working on the web" This sounds like a willingness to be part of a conversation, and I'd like to make a contribution to that.

Web site to web presence
For the record, I spend almost all of my time working out where digital is at the moment - and where it is going.

There is a major sea change happening in the web right now - it is rapidly moving away from the notion of Web 2.0 as a series of participation tools in the likes of blogs or new services/platforms like Twitter.

This change is about replacing the notion of a stand alone web site, or institutional presence with the notion of 'web presence' where everyone has a myriad of personalised digital touch points to family - work - community - society - et al. This means we will all be part of a vibrant digital ecology of place - tools and service points.

The entire web will be social
And as part of that people will move away from social networks as special places to do special activities like being social, and will in contrast use the web as one giant social network.

In short the next generation web will be a a social web.

I also strongly believe that libraries have a very big part to play in this transformation and that, accordingly, libraries, their stakeholders, and their institutions [like CILIP] need to extend their current DNA, including their collections expertise, into all the different parts of the emerging web ecology.

Web ecology
By web ecology I mean all of the pieces and places that now define the emerging next generation of web services and web activities.

This isn't a smokescreen for being more web 2.0 - e.g about Bob's blog having an RSS feed - it's about my being able to take all the digital pieces of CILIP [and by extension my local library] and managing them within my own web landscape of sources, people, and personal professional/cultural/ practice.

In this definition there is no closed CILIP world of professionalism - rather the professionalism that defines CILIP is on show inside 'my' personalised knowledge/learning/cultural landscape.

Being Digital
In short - being digital means just that - i.e. participating in both the development and the outcomes of a world in which people - place and cultural/economic/social/political practice will use digital pathways to extend and develop their lives.

I think CILIP has a big role to play in this - as do it's members and the institutions they work for. I also think that if CILIP and their members fail to rise to this challenge/opportunity - they are toast.

[Postscript - by definition I also think the same is true of LIANZA and ALIA]

Monday 23 March 2009

Section 92a is a Norwegian Blue

Digitising Medieval Manuscripts - usability and design - stop making frogs!

Captain Grumpy goes for a stroll
Big bad grumpy Monday here. Normally I am the "most generous of web reviewers" In fact in 14 years of web critique/reviewing I have rarely [although it has happened] got really annoyed with the results of a web project. It always felt more important to encourage - cajole - support - plead for another round, etc. But somehow these guys got through the firewall, because they exampled something that has been troubling me for way too long.

Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts UCLA
My poor hapless victim comes from the Scout Report on Saturday. I got all excited when I read the blurb. The CMRS , Center for Medieval Renaissance Studies at UCLA, had created a database of over 100o digitised medieval manuscripts from nearly 100 significant college, national and insititutional library collections, and "a real boon to historians, art historians, and those with a penchant for such documents' That's for me I thought! And so off I went

Great Resources
The reality was, to be frank, a major disappointment. Don't misunderstand - the resources which the site has uncovered and indexed are brilliant. Moreover, they have definitely done us all a service by bringing them together into a database and then annotating them. I also like the multiple search pathways - region - type , et al. They also have the imprimatur of UCLA - so no fly by nights here

Over kissing frogs
So what went wrong? In two words - usability and design. As I say, normally I would not go on about them - but call it Monday - truth in sentencing - whatever - but I am so over kissing frogs - i.e. thinking I am going somewhere really interesting and then discovering that no matter how good the resource - the usability or design is just so bad, you just want to curl up in a ball and ask when is it ever going to end.

Hundreds of others?
It also feels unfair to pick on UCLA and this project. After all there are hundreds, if not the odd thousand, of library interfaces on the web which act just like theirs - i.e. a simple search page which ticks the discovery box, but with no context, and almost no sense of style or strategic purpose around leveraging the beauty of the objects in the collection, or the level of care and skill that the staff and the institution put towards their preservation and management.

And I'm over it, especially for a site which showcases medieval manuscripts, the most drop dead gorgeous examples of design, style and usability of their age, or any other for that matter.

Thicket of search thorns
The problem is both replicated and in some cases compounded when you go off to the sites and encounter the projects and manuscripts that underpin the database.

Once again the works themselves are surrounded by a thicket of search thorns, and then when you get through them, you are almost always presented with a design and presentation grid which actively undermines the sheer innovative genius of the original work.

As for usability, and intelligent intuitive site architecture - well let's be charitable and say they forgot.

I don't want to pull out any examples here - there are just too many from among the 73 institutions that are part of the collection. And I am just not that hard hearted.

Have a look for yourself - by searching around here - let me know - push back - maybe this is okay - maybe the "real people who use this" don't want/need any thing else?

Doesn't great medieval design deserves great web design?
For me it's simple - as well as being critical centers of knowledge dissemination, the best of the medieval scriptoria were the great design studios of their day, and the institutions which are digitising these treasures for greater web access are to be commended in bringing this legacy to human creativity onto the web, especially given the expense that some of these projects can rack up.

But isn't that point - if we are going to spend substantial amounts digitising these treasures - isn't it just as important to give them the same standard of excellence in terms of site design and presentation as the originals authors, patrons and subsequent caretakers gave, and continue to give to to the works themselves?

Isn't it time to stop making frogs!

Friday 20 March 2009

Three Friday things - Streetview UK, Media 7, NLNZ Source

The Friday thing is upon us, so I reckon I'll just drop on here for half an hour to share three things that passed my desk this morning. Each has its own audience - story and perspective.

Street View hits the UK
Streetview, the photo tour inside Google Maps , has finally launched in the UK . To view it you go to the main Google Map page, here , give the address you are looking for, [or just head to the area of your choice] and then when you get there look for the little tag, Streetview, on your choice.

It takes a little while to get familiar with it - but once I'd sorted it, I was grooving up and down the street like a natural. I was genuinely intriqued with the experience.

The NZ view
I know Streetview has been on view in New Zealand for a while, but the UK version has taken its own time due to a bunch of concerns over privacy etc. Some of this is still going on. See the UK Guardian discussion, for example.

I have enjoyed playing in the NZ version, I was genuinely surprised by the depth of engagement I had with the UK version.

The London thing
The reason for this is simple enough. London has always been a huge part of my life. I first went to live there when I was 15 years old. I spent the whole of the 80's there, and still go back as often as is possible. It's my home city - and like many other people, its the place where I first really found myself. I miss it a lot sometimes.

London Sreetview
As you might imagine then, I was straight onto Google Maps this morning and went for a stroll around many of my old haunts. No doubt thousands of other people around the world did something similar this morning.

But what fascinates, is that each of us will have constructed our own journey - and like me - people will have unpacked and then re energized a whole bunch of memories and stories as they take the Streetview tour of the places they know and love in London.

Taking the Lambeth Walk
No doubt it helps because like many other people I long since discovered London is a great place to walk in.

So this morning I have been back in my old neighbourhood in Clapham - then walked down onto the Wandsworth Road, and strolled, and sometime ran, [speeding up the mouse] all the way along the road to Vauxhall, then over the bridge [passing the MI6 building] to the north side of the Embankment, up along to Tate Britain, then to Westminster, then Trafalgar Square, and then up through Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue and so to Holborn and the British Library.

Tate Britain and British Library
It was fantastic. I loved it. Better still as I stopped in front of both the Tate Britain and the British Library, I had this lovely feeling of the future unfolding before me - that in the not too distant future, I will be able to easy the mouse forward and get myself inside the body of the Museum and Library and can spend an hour or so inside the [virtual] collections.

Paul Hagon and PowerHouse Museum, Sydney

Actually, down here in Australasia some steps to some of this potential is already on show. When Streetview launched in Australia last year, Canberra-based developer, Paul Hagon, designed an interesting mashup of historic photography posted by the Powerhouse Museum on Flickr combined with images of the same location in modern times captured by Google and displayed on Google Street View.

Flickr API - Google Maps
This re-purposing of museum data uses the Flickr API to create a KML file from the Powerhouse Museum's photographic collection in the Commons and merges it with the Google Maps and the Google Maps Street View.

The Powerhouse has details, here

The BBC did a piece on the UK Streetview launch. No surprise there. But they also made the video an embed. This is first time I have seen this feature on their content. Interesting move to say the least.

2. Russell Brown, Media 7
I don't have Freeview, and so can't watch TV7 and the Russell Brown show, Media 7. However, they have multiple ways of watching it online - including You Tube - TVNZ OnDemand, et al. You can also get a summary from RB's site, Hard News, here.

I went on it to watch the interview with Jonathen Coleman the new New Zealand Minister of Broadcasting.

TVNZ - future of NZ state broadcaster?
I think I just watched a very honest assessment/ announcement that TVNZ long term future as the New Zealand state broadcaster is now very doubtful. Check out for yourself .

3. The Source
Two lovely dry reports from the always useful, The Source at the NZNL:
Measuring the Internet Economy - The ICT Development Index (Note: PDF)
From the International Telecommunication Union website

"This report, published in 2009 by the ITU, compares developments in information and communication technologies (ICT) in 154 countries over a five-year period from 2002 to 2007. The Index combines 11 indicators into a single measure that can be used as a benchmarking tool globally, regionally and at the country level. These are related to ICT access, use and skills, such as households with a computer, the number of Internet users and literacy levels."

Australia: Internet access in public libraries survey 2008 (Note: PDF)
From the Australian Library and Information Association website

"This report is a follow-up to similar survey reports in 2002 and 2005 and a more specialised report on internet filtering in 2007 and provides current information on how public library internet services are managed, delivered and used in responding libraries. This report of internet services in public libraries in Australia is made possible by the voluntary participation of a significant number of public libraries across Australia."

Have a great weekend! Back Monday

Thursday 19 March 2009

Sita Sings the Blues - story on story

Sita Sings the Blues
Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by e-mail. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana. Set to the 1920’s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as “The Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told.”

The copyright back story
You can see the whole thing right now, here. But take a moment to hear the story in the story.

Sita Sings the Blues
is the creative child of cartoonist and animator Nina Paley. She spent three years making the movie and then hit a wall in terms of distribution because of her supposed failure to clear rights to the music.

As it happens the music she uses comes from the 1920's singer Annette Hanshaw. And in a typical example of the current copyright labyrinth, although the recordings are out of copyright, the compositions themselves are still restricted.

Question Copyright
Question Copyright estimate it would cost her US$50k to clear the rights. They have also helped Nina Paley spread message that her difficulties are a classic example of "how today's copyright system suppress art, effectively forcing artists to make creative choices based on licensing concerns rather than on their artistic vision"

Nina Paley Interviews
Nina has given some great interviews on the topic of copyright and creativity. One of her best lines is that "artists internalise the permission culture", which in turn affects the art the make."

This quote and others on the need for a radical shakeup in our copyright laws are on view in two interviews. The first is a short 3 minute YouTube highlights. This is here.

However, the entire interview with is also available as an embed - and yep - I couldn't resist the temptation to put it up here.

Watch Sita Sings the Blues
At the time when she gives the interview, last November, the film was still undistributed. However, all that has changed. Using the Creative Commons framework, the entire thing is available in multiple formats, here, including a streaming version at, here.

Nina Paley's own site is here

Sara Levi Willis - the Magnes Museum - and the voice of empathy

Tweet Tweet
The Twitter ecology is starting to really intrigue me . I especially like the way stories can do the rounds, fade away, and then resurface again. It's like stories have sleep periods, a bit like the lovely status light on a Mac when it is on standby.

The story which prompted this little musing involves a lovely old lady, her wedding dress, a museum and a collections manager.

The dress
The fabric of the dress is the featured picture above. It picture comes from a Flickr set showing the detail on a wedding dress from Turkey which was made in the 19th century.

Sara Levi Willis.
The dress was handed down through a Jewish family who perished in the Holocaust. It then passed to the daughter, Sara Levi Willis, who first wore it when she was 18 years old on the ocean liner which brought her to America. She was married in it.

The Collections Information Manager - Magnes Museum
The story then jumps jumps to this blog post from Perian Sully the Collections Information Manager and Web Programs Strategist at the Magnes Museum.

She is entranced both by the dress and the encounter that the Museum arranged with Sara Levi Willis, now an old woman.

The whole encounter has been filmed. This isn't online, but there is a bunch of the photography on Flickr, here. Theee are also other pictures on the Museum blog. This might sound a little voyeuristic - but when you read the blog post you are reassured by the genuine empathy at play here.

The learning?
There doesn't need to be any - it's just a great story - but if I was to pick one , then the learning for me is to once again to affirm some of the topics Shelley Bernstein spoke off recently in Wellington, on how using these kinds of tools - blogs - Flickr - can really work for heritage institutions, provided the voice is personal - genuine and illustrates the power of the relationship between the object - the institution - and, in this case, the former owner.

The Voice - personal - genuine
So for me, the big takeaway - apart from the story itself - is the authenticity of the voice in the blog post. I offer a quote from a bigger block of text as an example of this .

"..... But the construction took a dim second place to the sight of this very elderly woman being reunited with this object that holds so many memories, to the most extreme joy to the greatest sorrow.

She talked about how it felt to see her gown again, and we watched as she laid her hands upon it, feeling the gold threads, surely remembering what it felt like to wear it.

She bent down to kiss it once, and I have to confess to a trained gut reaction of momentary panic (”Don’t touch!”).

But sometimes the pieces in our care become more precious and powerful when viewed and touched by their former owners, and preserving those moments is just as valuable as preserving the object itself.

It had been 23 years since she had seen it, and I am very happy that she was impressed by the care it received and the condition it was in" more

And - yep - thanks to the two Twitter sources who put me onto it -

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Dumbing Up - the new black for Museums

Dumbing Up
I came across this lovely phrase - dumbing up - yesterday. It was part of an article from the UK Times on museums and museum visitors. I twittered the phrase and got a bunch of direct queries as to what I meant.

I seem to have piqued an interest. Naturally the best place to find the phrase and the context is to go to the article, Why Museums Have become our home from home", by Hugo Rifkind, here.

There you will find the phrase pops up in the context of five theories as to why museums are now more popular than ever before.

Theory Two - of Five
'Dumbing up' is theory two - "as expounded by the likes of Melvyn Bragg, the broadcaster, and Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, it asserts that museum numbers are up because people are getting cleverer". Neat idea, and definitely worth a discussion. I for one think it is true. People are more and more interested in context, and for lots of us that means taking ideas, events, and feelings on big journeys.

The other four
The other theories as to why museums are more popular are - Museum as family friendly spaces [the dumb down argument lives here]: Museums as great places to meet friends - Museums as places of safety in a troubled world: Museums as creative play space for very young children: and my best pick of all: Museums as public space.

Museums as Public Space
- Auckland Museum Late at the Museum sessions
And speaking of which, just a note to say that the Auckland Museum is heading into its third session of their Late at The Museum evenings which combine debate and live entertainment.

The next session is on Thursday April 2nd, 6:30 pm. The theme is 'Whaddarwe now? Are we really a nation of can-do, innovative, kid friendly, outdoorsy people? Or are we crime-ridden, unproductive, credit-junky, obesity-epidemic dreamers? Passionate or purposeless? '

Neil and Liam Finn
The music is from Neil and Liam Finn. This will sell out. So I guess you need to do the thing that Aucklanders are just not good at - book early! Here.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

NZ Finalists for World Summit Awards

World Summit Awards
The New Zealand finalists for the World Summit Awards (WSA) were announced in Wellington tonight.

Running since 2003, this years contingent sees eight projects being selected from a total of 50. These now go through to the international Awards in Delhi in April. The finalists projects range from Air New Zealand's online strategy, to blood pressure monitoring software, and a mobile environmental education service.

In Delhi, the World Summit Awards will showcase excellence in multimedia and e-Content creation. Forty winners (5 in each category) will be selected from 170 countries.

A special emphasis is placed on those projects which show the benefits of information and communication technology for the development of society at large.

The categories and New Zealand winners:
e-Culture & Heritage: NZ On Screen,
e-Entertainment & Games:, Casebook
e-Health & Environment: Activa Health Works, Preventive Healthcare software
e-Government & Institutions: State Services Commission, National Broadband Map
e-Business & Commerce:Air New Zealand, My Air
e-Inclusion & Participation: Horizons Regional Council,Green
e-Learning & Education: Te Papa, Our Space
e-Science & Technology: MoRST, Future of Food Roadshow

About the Word Summit Awards , WSA
The WSA results in a global showcase of 40 outstanding projects, in eight categories, with a special emphasis on those projects which show the benefits of information and communication technology for the development of society at large.

The WSA is one of the best of the long term outcomes of the WSIS - World Summit on the Information Society.

WSIS, was a multilateral intergovernmental summit sponsored by the UN and held over two sessions. The first in Geneva, December 2003, and then Tunis, in June 2005.

Though castigated by some as a missed opportunity – nevertheless the two summits and the subsequent Declaration of Principles handed to the international community a number of compelling statements around civil rights, and public space, including the right to knowledge and self-expression.

WSIS Goals
So for the record - and with a bit of fanfare - because I continue to think the WSIS goals are just a tad sodding stunning, herewith a reminder of what some of the Tunis commitment said:

Create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge
The Tunis commitment confirms the Declaration of Principles signed at Geneva by confirming:

1. We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, have gathered in Tunis from 16-18 November 2005 for this second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to reiterate our unequivocal support for the Geneva Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action adopted at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva in December 2003.

2. We reaffirm our desire and commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and multilateralism, and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so that people everywhere can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, to achieve their full potential and to attain the internationally agreed development goals and objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals.

[bold italics - my emphasis - full txt - here ]

People centered inclusive society
I know - lots of summitt speak - but - hey - take a breath - extract the richness and roll them round your tongue - a people centred - inclusive society.. so that people everywhere can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, to achieve their full potential.

Sounds like the best of the interweb to me - as well as capturing a bunch of values that go way back through generation on generation of effort, each one determined to build a better future for their children.

Seems a pity to forget both them and the struggles it took to get us this far, and for many , there is still a way, way to go.

So congratulation to the finalists - I hope they do well - and congratulations to all the other finalists from all corners of the world, with a special mention to those which showcase how to harness the collaboration of the many for the benefit of us all.

Monday 16 March 2009

Auckland District Law Society comes out against Sec 92a

Stuff, the main internet site for Fairfax Media in New Zealand is reporting that the Auckland District Law Society, ADLS, has come out against the notorious Section 92 clause of the Copyright Amendment Act.

In a submission prepared by their Law and Technology Committee, to the Telecommunication Carriers Forum, they are reported to be saying that
S92A is out of step with sections 92B through to E in not reflecting recognised safe harbour provisions for ISPs.
" ... s92A amounts to a mechanism whereby the copyright holder, an unrelated third party to the contract between an ISP and their customers, can interfere with that contract and this could amount to a tort of interference with contractual relations.

The Society is also critical of the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act's definition of an ISP. It says all manner of businesses and organisations are included in the definition. An attempt in the TCF's draft code to deal with this by defining a "downstream ISP" is not adequate... "

quote from stuff

Note: can't find the submission on the ADLS web site - would be good to see the whole thing. Have I missed it? Can someone point me to it ?
Update: link thanks to The full submission is here. [PDF]
S92a - when is this going to end?
You have to ask - when is this poor old horse going to be given a decent burial - perhaps under a tree, next to a classic kiwi beach - you know the one they use to showcase the open liberal citizen democracy that is New Zealand/Aotearoa on a typical bright sunny day.

Science Commons - make the web work for science

Science Commons is a branch of Creative Commons that aims to make the Web work for science the way that it currently works for culture.

As their site, says, it is a non-profit organisation aimed at accelerating the research cycle which they define as "the continuous production and reuse of knowledge that is at the heart of the scientific method."

Science Commons has three interlocking initiatives: making scientific research 'reuseful'; enabling 'one-click' access to research materials; and integrating fragmented information sources.

Its work is of relevance to anyone within the scientific cycle looking to reduce legal and technical barriers to research and discovery.

Thanks to The Source for the re-heads up on this.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Telstra Clear plays last post for Sec92a ?

Telstra Clear, one of New Zealands largest ISP's, won't be supporting the proposed code of practice being hammered out by the Telecommunication Carriers Forum, TCF. The code is designed to navigate the implementation of the controversial Sec 92a of the Copyright Amendment Act which requires ISP's to monitor and police practices around copyright disputed customer downloads.

Despite their best efforts to put a positive spin on the news , the TCF will be hard pressed to make the code work.

Others to follow?
It will also be interesting to see which other ISPs decide to go the same way as Telstra Clear by close of play today. I'm picking at least one more of the top 5 service providers will throw in the towel and say, "nope, its too hard, why should be be the ones that try to make sense of a piece of legislation which even Prime Minster John Key described as "a bit ropey"

Radio New Zealand report
Karen Gregory-Hunt from Radio NZ did a fine piece on this on Morning Report, National Radio.
Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3

Colin Jackson
Colin Jackson, NZ based internet analyst and commentator and one time President of Internet NZ has also blogged on the latest developments , here. In part he says,

"The next step here is to get S92A repealed altogether. Then to start a wider conversation involving artists and Internet folk - some of whom are the same people - to work out how copyright should work in the Internet age. It would be truly wonderful if the government would facilitate that."

I totally agree with both sentences, with the emphasis on the second - time to start a conversation and get this sorted for all concerned. Polarity only works for batteries. It is not a long term solution for real people

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Shelley Bernstein talks about the Brooklyn Museum at the NLNZ

Shelley Bernstein, the social media maven from the Brooklyn Museum spoke to a packed audience in the NZ National Libraryy Auditorium last night in Wellington.

Her presentation covered a lot of ground, as it would given the profile she and her institution have picked up of late over their enthusiastic embrace of social networking tools and techniques as a core component of their Museum strategy.

Note the emphasis - Brooklyn is not about using social media as just another marketing and visitor experience tool-set. Rather, as Bernstein said last night, Brooklyn Museum itself is now a social network - that is its job - to be a center for the community to have a conversation.

What about the collection!
Given the nature of her audience, she was protected from the inevitable comment , but what about the Museum and its collection - isn't it also about being above the common fray as it pursues its research and collecting purpose.

Nobody asked - and so nobody had to be told that being social doesn't inhibit either scholarship nor the hitherto core purposes of the old style universal museum . Actually, when it works best, as Bernstein pointed out with a lovely illustration, it can bring into the Museum an 80 year old Brooklyn resident, and others, with precious information to give about collection items, whether from inside their heads, or up in their attics.

Social Media - The usual suspects
So what did she talk about? Much of it was around how to really leverage the likes of the usual suspects Flickr - YouTube - blogging, et al.

It takes time and authority
Using a wealth of examples from all three platforms she hammered home her key findings. First up, working the social media landscape takes time, and it needs authority. It's "not an intern role " , it needs management buy-in and a whole lot of time and attention, with the concomitant commitment to have the patience to wait for the return hit.

Build the conversation - trust the conversation
Second, trust the user - listen to the conversation - especially in the likes of Flickr, and act on it: i.e. take on board that expertise is now distributed and that user communities have long term value. Even better, use the community - let it take the responsibility to find and locate the next step. This is not a place to pick up volunteers who you then direct!

Make it personal
She was wonderfully scathing about anonymous institutional naming conventions - especially around blogging. Thus, to be successful, as well as respectful to the medium, blogs had to be personal - authors had to be named. The Brooklyn blog, for example, had a community of authors and each of these had their own RSS feed. Nice touch I thought.

Make Mistakes
We have heard this before - but it is just so important to hear it from big ticket institutions with all the baggage that comes from big sponsorship and foundation trusts. That on social media it is not just okay - it's necessary - to make your mistakes in public, and learn from them.

The Brooklyn Museum API
She also took the time to tell people about the launch of the Brooklyn API, here, and the hope that this will become a key tool in the next phase of their online development plans, because people will come along and do"cool things with our material"

And, on that note, she was also very gracious both about Te Papa and work of Digital New Zealand - especially the latter as the release of the DNZ api had given them encouragement to take a similar stance.

The focus on the developer and the API
Curiously, this was the one area of her presentation I was a little flattened by. Don't misunderstand. Her energy was irrepressible and a real inspiration.

However, as others have found, there are real issues in the cultural field around the notion that if you give people the technical means to access your collection data, for example through an API, then a developer community is ready and willing to come along and "do cool things"

This may well happen - but if memory , heritage and knowledge institutions have an ambition to help create the next phase of the digital landscape, then making their assets available to the developer community is, for me, only one, and not necessarily the most important step, they need to take to make this happen.

The Producer Class
Rather, as the team at Digital New Zealand know well, my own view is that key cultural institutions need to start thinking about engaging with what I cheerfully call, the producer class - i.e. organisations, or people, or groups, who the likes of the Brooklyn, Te Papa, or any variety of National or State Libraries could work with directly to figure out how best to release the benefits of the API into their project or practice.

When I say the creative class, I don't mean a joint dinner party with the black T shirt posse; rather I mean identifying and then proactively engaging with a whole bunch of organisations and groups who are about their own business, and whose core activities somehow touch the museum or the library collection, who haven't a clue what an API is, but would very quickly figure out a way of engaging with it if they had it explained to them, and were then offered a way of using the same to enhance their own work.

Community of Practice
I also think there is enormous fun to be had for all concerned. It gives the classic stakeholder model a new reach, and has the potential to create a whole new community of practice around our main stream heritage, learning and cultural collections, as well as offering a way to showcase why the developer/software guys get so excited about the potential of the emerging API ecology.

All that said, it was a class act, and a delight to see and hear Ms Bernstein. I wish her a safe journey back to the Big Apple. And hey, while I am at it, when are the big institutions who manage these kind of digital rock stars going to learn, letting them fly round the world in cattle class is just not good?

Upgrade them!
Perhaps their enthusiasm and humility confuses people. So let's be clear. In terms of value to their institution, they are ambassadors of real distinction - the same drive , enthusiasm and commitment do you more good than a million dollar marketing campaign. Upgrade them!

Monday 9 March 2009

Auckland City Libraries / Alexander Turnbull NZ Chinese Journals Database:

NZ Chinese Journals Database
Auckland City Libraries has launched the NZ Chinese Journals Database. The project is a collaboration between libraries (Auckland City Libraries and the Alexander Turnbull Library) the Chinese Association - Auckland Branch, the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust and the Dominion Federation of Chinese Commercial Growers). It uses Greenstone software as the platform.

In line with best digital practice, the project goal is to give greater access to important historical material and make the history of NZ Chinese more visible. The database consists of three Chinese publications - the Man Sing Times (1921-22), NZ Chinese Weekly News (1937-46) and NZ Chinese Growers (1949-72).

The Background
[Quotation from the site]
" Chinese New Zealand’s early print culture is small and scattered. This is no surprise given the size of the Chinese New Zealand community which until the 1920s was not large enough to support a print culture.

A small, transient and largely rural community, labour-intensive occupations and the need to support families back in China were all obstacles to the time-consuming and expensive process of publishing.

Despite these difficulties, between 1921 and 1972 at least four Chinese language periodicals were published in New Zealand. Three of these are available on this site.

The Man Sing Times was published between 1921 and 1922, the New Zealand Chinese Weekly News between 1937 and 1946, and the New Zealand Chinese Growers between 1949 and 1972. Collectively these periodicals cover some 50 years of Chinese New Zealand history.

They provide an insight into the political, economic, linguistic, historical and social life of the Chinese New Zealand community.

Making these key Chinese New Zealand publications available online therefore provides a wonderful primary resource for those studying Chinese New Zealand history and it is hoped that it will encourage the study of and further research into Chinese New Zealand history.

The project is a joint venture between the Alexander Turnbull Library and Auckland City Libraries. The Alexander Turnbull Library supplied microfilmed copies of the publications for digitisation. Project management and web enablement was provided by Auckland City Libraries.

A grant from the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust contributed to the costs of the project.
NDF Presentation
For those that want to know more about the project here's a link to view the presentation that Keziah Singleton (project manager) and David Adams gave at the NDF conference 2008 - N.B. its over 18MB. For convenience, I have also made a Slideshare version. Hope this is okay with the authors - seems daft not too. If this aint right, then tell me.

And, of course, congratulations all round. It is a really great example of bringing primary heritage material online - and exactly the kind of collaboration we need to show how digital access adds its own unique perspective to the research process.

[Note: there are other presentations from the 2008 NDF Conference on the NDF site, here

Friday 6 March 2009

BLERTA - the doco - thanks NZ OnScreen

What a lovely Friday afternoon moment! Thanks to Russell Brown of Hard News, Public Address for the welcome news that NZ OnScreen has put up the whole of the 2001 documentary of BLERTA, an analysis and tribute to the bus, Bruno Lawrence and gang, and the 1970's seminal moment in New Zealand pup culture. Or as NZ OnScreen has it :

" If a single word could sum up the free-wheeling flavour of alternative music and comedy in Aotearoa during the 1970s, that word would surely be ... Blerta. The ‘Bruno Lawrence Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition' encompassed foundation members of the NZ film and TV industry (Lawrence, Geoff Murphy, Alun Bollinger, Martyn Sanderson, John Clarke) and many other merry pranksters and hippy freaks. Blerta Revisited is an anarchic collection of comedic skits, short films, and musical interludes culled from the Blerta archives. "

There is no embed - but the whole thing is available in six episodes - click the image above and go direct to the site - or just click here

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Auckland Fesitval starts tomorrow

Auckland Festival starts tomorrow!
I nearly forgot that the Festival is upon us. Is there a Twitter Feed - should be! If so, can someone tell me what it is?

I am looking forward to all the Red Square acts. Off late Aotea Square has been so quiet over the weekends. The market stalls got their marching orders in advance of the car park renovations and so I lost touch with the best Indian food stall in Auckland.

I have some Scottish in-laws [or whatever you call the parents of your grown-up daughter's husband] coming to Auckland on Saturday on a cruise ship. They are only in town for the day - definitely a Red Square moment.

So culture here we come - move over Wellington. Auckland might just surprise you yet!
Details, here

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Pooling Ideas - Creative Commons Australia

Pooling Ideas Project
Jessica Coates, Project Manager Creative Commons Clinic, QUT, reports on a lovely looking remix project, Pooling Ideas.

Pooling Ideas
Calling anybody who's ever used a computer: set your creativity loose on the world of music, literature, art and video that is free to play with, remix and manipulate.

"Pooling Ideas" is an exciting competition being run by Creative Commons Australia , ABC Pool and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation () as part of the Ideas Festival (a major initiative of the Queensland Government.
It aims to get the digital artist in all of us up and running by inviting people to create their own remix works based around the theme "we are what we share".
From 2-23 March, mash up a film, tweak an artwork, remix a poem - whatever takes your fancy - then upload it to Pool

The winner gets an internship with ABC Radio National to co-produce an episode of The Night Air while runners up get Creative Commons packs including USBs chock full of remixable material.

Select works will be showcased at the Ideas Festival and pulled apart by our panel of experts at the 'We Are what We Share' seminar (Saturday 28th, 5-6:30pm, State Library of Queensland.

Find out more at

TechRadar - CC Use - arguments for and against
She also posted a link and a note to a good article on Techradar on CC by
Marco Fiorett, here

Jessica notes, "not only does it include some very cool examples of CC use, it also has a good rundown of some of the pros and cons of CC in different markets.

There is also " an excellent discussion of the problems/dilemmas of implementing CC in areas without a strong copyright tradition (Asia, South America etc) - complete with
commentary by some of the more prominent faces in the OA international community "

WOMAD 13th to 15th March, 2009

Womad, a signature event from the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust, is almost upon us. It runs over the weekend of the 13th, 15th March, 2009, and takes place in the beautiful New Plymouth Pukekura Park.

I've been a big fan of New Plymouth for a couple of years now, and have the real pleasure to be working with both Puke Ariki, the combined library/museum and visitor centre, and Govett Brewster, the art gallery. Both these places would be enough in themsleves for a visit.

Womad has its own legion of fans who need nothing from me. For those of us looking for a glimpse of where all the loyalty comes from - here's a welcome video. Just great to see local and well established events finding and using the YouTube thing so well.

WOMAD 2009 ARTIST LINE-UP Andrew White Anika Moa Arte KanelaBedouin Jerry Can BandBrendan PowerDengue FeverDona Rosa & EnsembleFat Freddy’s Drop GurrumulGyuto MonksHinemoana BakerJustin Adams & Juldeh CamaraLittle Bushman Lo Cor de la PlanaMihirangiMikidacheMoana & the TribeMobile Sewing CompanyPeople In Your NeighbourhoodNatacha AtlasRachel Unthank & the WintersetRokia TraoreRuss JonesSa DingdingSeckou Keita QuintetSeun KeutiShona LaingSka CubanoSpeed CaravanThe Sami Sisters U Shrinivas

Monday 2 March 2009

Many Answers - more widgets available

 Many Answers is a co-production between the public libraries of New Zealand and the NZ Ministry of Education. It is the the sister site to Any Questions - the real time reference service for NZ school students manned by a possie of public librarians here in New Zealand. There is also a Te Reo service.

The original vision
Many Answers was built as a tool to redistribute and extend the most popular, and curriculum useful sessions between the students and the librarians. It also made the results of the sessions available to Google, while also offering both students - teachers -parents, and of course, other librarians - the chance to extend and enhance the answers. There is also a tagging feature.

New Widgets
From the outset the project has a number of embedded widgets which can be put on any school - or personal site. These widgets have been tweaked for more efficient delivery - plus we took the opportunity to combine some of the separate views of the queries.

McGovern Online
I say we, because McGovern Online was the development partner - and we are proud of the association. Below is a version of one of the new widgets - you can see the others here.

Microsoft Office Labs vision 2019 (montage + video)

<a href="" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

Read Write Web
Thanks to RRW for this link. As they say - Microsoft are very good at imgining the future. Let's see if they can be nimble enough to invent it.

Update - extended version
RWW acknowledge their source as Long Zheng, whose blog is here. On it he has posted an extended version of the video [no embed as yet] plus a link to the PowerPoint from Microsoft’s Business Division president Stephen Elop at the Wharton Business Technology Conference,