Sunday 31 May 2009

NZ On Screen: Fat Freddys Drop - Based on a True Story

Fresh from the excellent NZ OnScreen,
Just up at NZ On Screen - this documentary follows the "seven headed soul monster direct from the shores of Wellington" - Fat Freddys Drop - as they rumble their dub-rich sound like a Houghton Bay roller through Europe."

"Touring to showcase album Based on a True Story, it features rehearsals and performances, eating Italian kai moana, playing concrete ping pong in Berlin, and a jam with Cliff Curtis. Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe lauds the 'fullas' and Mu Explains whanau to German music journos. True Story sold 120,000+ copies and dominated the 2005 New Zealand Music Awards."

Library Skunk Works: User Experience Design for the 21st Century Library

Source: John Blyberg
Slides for a talk originally given at the Rhode Island Library Association annual conference, 5/29/2009

Darien Statements
See also The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians
Written and endorsed by John Blyberg, Kathryn Greenhill, and Cindi Trainor

Friday 29 May 2009

Friday Moment Two: Bayard and Eco: How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read

Books You Haven't Read or at least skimmed it:
"In the July 26th edition of L'Espresso Eco writes, "The most intriguing part of this pamphlet, less paradoxical than may first appear, is that we forget a high percentage of the books we actually read, in fact, we conjure a virtual image of sorts, not so much of what the book said, but of what it made us think about"
Bayard's seemingly paradoxical book makes the case for literary laziness. In How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, Bayard argues that the key to appreciating the classics is through a quick skim, not deep immersion; cover to cover isn't merely impractical, it's downright passe - New York Public Library.."
Source : New York Public Library, on Fora TV, here

Friday moment - Art and Citizenship

YouTube, here
Shot and edited at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Edited by Gretchen Neidert Cinematography by Matthew Day Music by Charlie Humphrey Crew: Joseph Morrison Will Zavala Gretchen Neidert Ann Toriano Andre

Came via a MOMA Tweet : Very USA centric - but interesting - definitely a Friday moment

Ka Mate Ka Ora, NZEPC

Ka Mate Ka Ora
Just out by New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (nzepc) , the seventh issue of Ka Mate Ka Ora: A New Zealand Journal of Poetry and Poetics, with a special colloquium feature:

* 1,000 Words or a Picture: Could Poetry be a Contemporary Art?
A ka mate ka ora colloquium including contributions by MartinEdmond; Paul Hartigan; David Howard; Lesley Kaiser and John Barnett; Jan Kemp; Richard Killeen; Cilla McQueen; Selina Tusitala Marsh; Ruth Watson, Albert Wendt...

* Paul Millar, Interviewing Hone Tuwhare at Kaka Point, 3 December 2007. With photographs and audio

* Ian Wedde, Mahmoud Darwish 1941-2008

Source: NZEPC
Te Mate Ka Ora is edited by Murray Edmond with assistance from Michele Leggott and Hilary Chung at the University of Auckland, and with the support of the University Library.

It publishes research essays and readings of New Zealand-related material and welcomes contributions from poets, academics, essayists, teachers and students from within New Zealand and overseas. Submission guidelines, here

Past issues:
Issue One:
Robert Sullivan on Te Rauparaha's Haka; John Newton onBaxter; Alison Hunt on Robin Hyde; Suzanne Nola on Alistair Campbell;Murray Edmond on Robert Creeley; Pam Brown on Australian Poetry.

Issue Two:
Joel Harrison on Web Poetics; Hilary Chung on Yang Lian; Jeffrey Paparoa Holman oin Elsdon Best; Laurie Duggan on himself; Martin Edmond on Ern Malley

Issue Three:
Paul Millar on Baxter and India; Baxter's Indian Poems; Heleb Sword on Alistair Campbell; Jack Ross on Ezra Pound; Anne Kennedy on poetry in Hawai'i

Issue Four:
Elizabeth Caffin on Auckland University press; Ken Bolton on wiritng; Alan Brunton's Notebooks; Michele Leggott on Alan Brunton; Martin Edmond on Red Mole; Murray Edmond on Alan Brunton and Red Mole;

Issue Five:
Peter Simpson on Kendrick Smithyman; Smithyman's War Poems; Smithyman's letters to Graham Perkins; Fredrika Van Elburg on Ron Silliman; Ian Wedde on Charles Spear; Anna Smaill on poetry in London; Murray Edmond on poetry festival in China; Niel Wright on Dennis List

Issue Six:
Hone Tuwhare celebration issue: Selwyn Muru; Hana O"Regan; Robert Sullivan; Janet Hunt; Michelle Keown; Jon Battista; Elizabeth DeLoughrey; Cassie RinglanStewart; Hinemoana Baker; Peter Marsden; David Eggleton; Barry Brickell; Tania Hinehou Butcher; Glenn Colquhoun; Murray Edmond; William Farrimond; Bernadette Hall; Jeffrey paproa Holman; Steve Lang; Michele Leggott; Jean McCormack; Cilla McQueen; Bill Manhire; Selina Tusitala Marsh; Michael O'Leary; Mark Pirie; Brian Potiki; John Pule; Gavin Reedy; Miriam Richardson; Dieter Riemenschneider; Alice Te Punga Somerville; Apirana Taylor; Albert Wendt; Reina Whaitiri; Simon Williamson; Briar Wood

Shifting Sands Changing Perspectives in History and Biography

photo credit
Shifting Sands

Changing Perspectives in History and Biography
Vaughan Park Retreat Centre, Long Bay, Auckland
October 23-26 2009

Writers’ Four Day Residential Workshop
The Michael King Writers’ Centre, with the assistance of an Auckland Regional Services grant from North Shore City, has organised a four day residentail workshop, Shifting Sands, Changing Perspectives in History and Biography, the first of what is intended to be an annual series covering different forms of writing.

This is the first residential workshop ever held in NZ for writers of biography and history . And it is excellent that the inaugural workshop should reflect Michael King’s major interests.

Shifting Sands
The workshop’s title, Shifting Sands, is about the changing nature of history and biography as new facts and viewpoints alter perception and interpretation.

Over four days, leading historians and biographers will present their experiences in research, writing, book structure and publishing, and highlight the factors which have changed the ‘way of seeing’ in their fields of research.

Professors Anne Salmond and Brian Boyd are the keynote speakers at the workshop.

Other speakers are Gordon McLauchlan, Caroline Daley, Monty Soutar, Gavin McLean, Janet Hunt, Iain Sharp, Christine Cole Catley, Paul Monin, Deborah Challinor, Paul Diamond, Sandra Coney and publishers Bridget Williams, Sam Elworthy and Geoff Walker.


Sessions will focus on literary, cultural, historical and collective biography, New Zealand history from a Maori perspective, themes in New Zealand and Australian history, writing for different audiences, local and regional history, research and publishing.

The pitch/rules
Writers with some publishing record are invited to apply for the Residential Workshop, which is limited to 20 participants.
The cost is $495.00 plus GST for three night’s accommodation and all meals.

More information
More information about the workshop may be found at Applications, which should include a writing CV, close 30 June 2009, should go to:

Residential Workshop
Kitty Wishart
Michael King Writers’ Centre Phone
PO Box 32-629, Devonport

Thanks to Bookman Beattie for this

Thursday 28 May 2009

Maori TV; foundation partner, WITBN, global indigenous TV broadcasters

The World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (WITBN)
EJC reports that a global alliance of indigenous television broadcasters is launching two major initiatives for its members - an international indigenous current affairs series and a programme exchange scheme.

The World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (WITBN) aims to unify television broadcasters worldwide to retain and grow indigenous languages and cultures.

Foundation Members
The nine foundation Council members are National Indigenous Television (NITV), Australia; Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), Canada; TG4, Ireland; Maori Television, New Zealand; NRK Sámi Radio, Norway; BBC ALBA, Scotland; South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), South Africa; Taiwan Indigenous Television (TITV) / Public Television Service (PTS), Taiwan; and S4C, Wales.

Indigenous Insight - Maori Television
A news sharing initiative, Indigenous Insight is a weekly 30-minute current affairs programme to be produced by Maori Television.

The series will showcase the best news stories from WITBN Council members.

A pilot of 12 programmes, presented by Maori Television presenter Julian Wilcox, will be recorded between July and September this year.

Programme Exchange Scheme
The programme exchange scheme has been developed by TG4 in Ireland and will see the 'free' exchange between WITBN Council members of four programmes per year.

A two-year transmission window will commence in September 2009 and close at the end of August 2011. The first year of the scheme will act as a 'pilot' for the full scheme.
(WITBN via Media Network Weblog)

Source: EJC European Journalism Centre

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Professor Terry Sturm - a personal memoir

Professor Terry Sturm
I have just heard the sad news that Professor Terry Sturm of Auckland University has died, after a long illness. The NZ Herald has nice piece on him, and his work here . In part they say:
"Prof Sturm was a member of the faculty of arts for 25 years and was a leading critic and scholar of Australasian writing, especially New Zealand popular fiction. He played a leading role in placing New Zealand literature at the centre of the academic curriculum. In 1990, he was awarded a CBE in recognition of his services to literature..."
Life and works
Auckland University, in a fulsome tribute made the following comments on his life and work.

Terry Sturm was a leading critic and scholar of Australasian writing, especially New Zealand popular fiction. He played a leading role in placing New Zealand literature at the centre of the academic curriculum. In 1990, Terry was awarded a CBE in recognition of his services to literature.

Terry Sturm was born in Auckland in 1941 and began his distinguished career at The University of Auckland. He undertook postgraduate work at Cambridge University and at the University of Leeds. He then lectured in English Literature at the University of Sydney 1967–1980, when he left to take a professorial chair at The University of Auckland.

He edited various standard literary reference works including The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English (1990, 1998), the drama section of the Oxford History of Australian Literature and the New Zealand section of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Post-colonial Literatures in English (1994).

Terry Sturm’s literary biography An Unsettled Spirit: The Life and Frontier Fiction of Edith Lyttleton (G B Lancaster) (Auckland University Press, 2003) was the product of 15 years of research in New Zealand, Australia and England.

Assisted by a Marsden Fund grant, Terry spent the past recent years researching and writing a definitive literary biography, The Writings of Allen Curnow: a Study of Cultural Identity in New Zealand in the Twentieth Century.

In 2005, he edited a selection of Curnow’s verse written under his pseudonym Whim Wham, Whim Wham’s New Zealand: The Best of Whim Wham 1937-1988 (Vintage, 2005).

Terry Sturm was involved in literary arts administration for many years. He was on the NZ Literary Fund and the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council (1982–92) and in 1997 became first convenor of the Humanities Panel of the Marsden Fund.

“Terry Sturm made a major contribution to the study of New Zealand and Australian literature and his scholarship was rightly recognised nationally and internationally. As an academic, Terry was top of his field; he was also deeply valued as a colleague and friend.

Our sympathies go out to his wife Linda and to his sons, Jonathan, Mark and Tim and their families,” says Professor John Morrow, Dean of the Faculty of Arts..."

The funeral will be held in the university's Maclaurin Chapel on Friday.

The private record
All of the above is, if you will, part of the public record. However, there will also be the very private record of his many colleagues and ex students who had the privilege of meeting, working with, or being taught by TS.

I'm not being sentimental here. He was a genuinely lovely guy, who among his many other accomplishments, taught me to say G'day in a proper accent.

MA Class - English Literature: 1990
My weekly G'day' tutorial happened at the beginning of his MA class in New Zealand Literature. in 1990. How I got to be sitting there is the core of my story, and equally, a measure of his generosity of spirit and purpose.

Thus in February, 1990, I/we hadn't been in Auckland much more than a month, or so. I had just arrived from London - knew hardly a soul personally, and absolutely nobody, professionally. But had ambitions to write, or study.

Cultural Materialism
One option I had in mind was to continue the work I had started in Sussex on cultural materialism. At the time, pre Jamie Bellich, I had this very thin, albeit persistent idea, that the notion of the New Zealand 'home farm' could be worked into an example of Raymond William's "structure of feeling"

To do that I needed to make some kind of connection with Auckland University. Someone, I think Murray Gray, then at Under Silkwood Books, recommended I talk to Professor Sturm. So I phoned him up.

Come on Down
I remember his voice so clearly. He listened to my opening, asked a few question that made it crystal clear he understood better than I did what I was trying to frame, and then, after a pause, said, as clear as day, "why don't you come on down".

A couple of days later I was sitting in his office. We talked some more, and agreed that I needed to ground the idea a whole lot more - and why didn't I come and sit in on his MA class in New Zealand Literature, as his guest. A week or so later that's what happened.

I stayed on for the whole semester. It was the most brilliant experience: he twinkled - probed - challenged and encouraged the whole group, and every now and then, brought me in - made me think a bit harder - and offered me a library of references and ideas for further thought and study.

Seems astonishing to say this happened 20 years ago - but it did - and I have never forgotten this gift he gave me. And I am still grateful!

And I can still say. G'day without disgracing myself!

Sir Tim Berners-Lee to receive Webby Lifetime Achievement Award

Webby Award for Lifetime Achievement
The Webby Awards have announced that Sir Tim Berners-Lee is scheduled to attend the 13th Annual Webby Awards Gala on June 8, where he will be honored with a Webby Award for Lifetime Achievement "in recognition of his enormous contribution to the world of Internet technology and communications"

Widely known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, Berners-Lee created the first versions of the technologies, - including HTML, URL, and HTTP -- that turned the Internet into a mass medium. See Wikipedia for his profile, and an explanation of these web protocols, here.

In announcing the Award, the Webby's said " Since he invented the Web twenty years ago, Berners-Lee has remained its most active and passionate advocate, working tirelessly to ensure that it remains open, free, and a tool for helping humankind"

TBL founded the World Wide Web Consortium in 1994 and currently serves as director of the World Wide Web Foundation and co-director of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI).

He was knighted in 2004 and was elected as a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year.

Press release here.

Tim Berners Lee on TED
As posted here a few days ago, TBL has been speaking at TED on his plans/dreams for the next phase - the semantic - web. See video, here . Or scroll down this page for the embed.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Stephen Collins: Public engagement. Public empowerment.

Connect. Share. Learn.
This is the Slideshare presentation by Stephen Collins , one of the speakers at last week's New Zealand Govis conference. The slide show has some great moments, and a couple of lovely YouTube embeds.

Notes/Lecture on presentation
There is also a comprehensive blog post to the presentation, here. Nice one ! This is one of the best presentations on open government I have seen, and I just love the amount of work he has done to make it accessible.

Sonic Museum at Auckland Museum

The Sonic Museum
Auckland Museum has joined forces with some of the biggest names in New Zealand music, including Tiki Taane, Nathan Haines and Don McGlashan, to work on a project called Sonic Museum, for a series of exclusive new music tracks.

Musicians and sound artists from the dance, rock, ambient, orchestral and jazz scenes have been commissioned to write and record a track that interprets a gallery of their choice in the museum. Galleries include the World War II Hall of Memories, Ancient Worlds, the Oceans Gallery and Maori Court.

To see what all the fuss is about, you go to the Museum, pick up one of the headphones and then walk around the gallery listening to the commissioned music.

Download to your own device
You can also download the tracks onto your own device - it costs $10 for all of the tracks - or listen to some of the samples. More on these options, here.

The web site has more details, here, or just click the picture.

Tim Berners-Lee on the next Web

About this talk
"20 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. For his next project, he's building a web for open, linked data that could do for numbers what the Web did for words, pictures, video: unlock our data and reframe the way we use it together"
Source - TED - here

Monday 25 May 2009

Libraries - the big question - are you up for it?

The New Zealand Library and Information Management Journal
I was asked to write the introduction to the April, 2009 issue of the excellent New Zealand Library and Information Management Journal. This is it.

No 1 Fan
"It is a pure pleasure to be asked to write the introduction for this issue. As is known, I am a very strong advocate for libraries, especially the public variety. That said, I'm also a big fan of the big institutional heritage libraries, and live in envious awe of the kind of resources an undergraduate can exact from a tertiary library, especially around access to electronic serials. In short - fan number one that’s me.

Critical Friends
That said, I'm also equally enamored by the UK library consultant Brian Kelly’s notion of 'critical friends'. Not only does it capture the essential notion that the stakeholder community around libraries is bigger than the librarian, it also allows those of us who work alongside the library sector, especially the digital stream, to offer some thoughts and interjections on the current landscape.

Here are some of mine:

Physical and Digital
First, I think the physical library has a vibrant future. This means I celebrate the prospect of beautiful buildings where people can come together and participate in a rich learning environment; where democratic access to knowledge, learning community and heritage is a basic human right.

However, I also believe that an equally robust and innovative digital dimension is essential to ensure the ongoing development of the library as a key institution of civil society.

New Paradigms - social/semantic
Second, I worry that even those libraries and librarians who "get digital" seem to think that digital libraries are a smart mutation of the old paradigm which sees the library as a special place for special people to do special things with special sources.

In contrast, I believe the next generation Internet, parts of which are already around us, will be social and semantic.

This network will be ubiquitous, and will be everywhere: it will play on multiple devices, it will be contextual, personalised, and deeply participative.

Three Challenges
I believe the challenge for the library profession in this emerging space is threefold:

• how to find the will and the resource to make their skills available to this web of participation?
• how to find the will and the resource to make their collections available to this web of participation?
• to understand that "being digital" will be the primary focus of their professional lives, and that the job of the library profession will be to lead not to follow.

Which leaves one more question – are you up for it? "

Full journal, here.
Comments welcome

Sunday 24 May 2009

Democratizing Data In New Zealand

Source - Govis - NZ

British Library invites readers to explore the future of the book

British Library takes a welcome lead

This week in London, The British Library launched a three month display which gives their readers the chance to test drive three e-readers from Sony and iRex Technologies currently available in the UK.

BL Readers
The category of "reader" is important here. British Library readers are still mostly drawn from the traditional research and scholar community looking for access to the unique primary and secondary resources held by this premier European heritage library.

The Library hopes the e-reader display will give "visitors the chance to familiarise themselves with these new devices and to freely explore the possible recreational and research benefits of the e-book revolution"

In an surprisingly, at least to me, enthusiastic press release, they say e-readers offer "a hugely versatile reading experience", and that, in what they they describe as an explosion of interest in recent months, the publishing industry has hit its 'iPod moment'.

Digital Literary
They also say that " as one of the World's greatest research Libraries and a leader in the UK's knowledge economy, the British Library has a vital role to play in ensuring our readers are equipped with the digital literacy skills to be able to use such technology and thrive in the 21st century research environment"

Better devices
They acknowledge, traditionally, e-readers have struggled to compete with the traditional book due to issues with low battery life and the use of harsh back-lit screens. However, they now note that these obstacles are being overcome through the use of e-ink technology, and that e-reading devices are more capable of satisfying reader expectations and can deliver a variety of additional functions such as the ability to vary font size, access WiFi and make annotations.

The also describe the devices on display:

Sony Reader: Encased in stylish brushed aluminium, the Sony Reader is super slim, intuitive to use, easy to navigate and with an exceptional battery life of up to 6800 page turns.

iRex DR1000: Helping the environment, the DR1000 allows companies and individuals to print directly to an e-reader, cutting out the need to print billions of pages every year.

The iLiad: With an integrated Wacom tablet and stylus, the iLiad allows users to annotate works, bringing e-books one step closer to being a replacement for the real thing

Content on board, and to come
The e-readers on display have been pre-loaded with material currently available on the market. However, in the future, they hope " to exploit e-reader technology to facilitate access to our own digital collections, allowing readers to explore rare and often out of print items such as the 80,000 editions of 19th Century English literature recently digitised in partnership with Microsoft."

They hope, " improving access to such collections will let readers rediscover a range of forgotten 19th century classics, adored by readers of the time but lost amongst the millions of works published since"

Feedback requested
The BL are inviting researchers to have their say – tell them what they like, what they don't like, and how they feel these new devices will change the way we read.

Professional endorsement
Dr Stephen Bury, British Library's Head of European and American Collections:
“This is not the end of the book as we know it. The book in its physical form will remain important for so many reasons, but the incredible versatility of the new e-readers makes them perfect for researchers, allowing easy access to a wealth of information including previously rare and out of print material. This exhibit gives our researchers a chance to play around with some of the devices currently available, and explore how they can be used to complement existing printed collections in the 21st century.”
Further details, here

Friday 22 May 2009

Telecom XT - Yoof first - Olds next

Telecom XT Press Briefing
The Westin Hotel in the rain drenched viaduct Auckland was the locus for the press launch of the Telecom XT network this week. The room was small - even intimate - the press group hardly needed their name tags, and the talent sitting on the box sofa immediately recognisable as Paul Reynolds, CEO Telecom, and the head of retail, Alan Gourdie.

The detail
Like everything about mobile networks these days, for every nugget of information we got, three others weren't quite ready for announcing. This included information on - devices - prices - content - and speed

Thus, we won't have the average speed number until the real launch on May 29th, 2009. However, we did hear that by Christmas this year, the top speed will hit 21 Mb/s. This is seriously speedy, and if the price is right, will offer real competition to the domestic, and even corporate fixed Internet market.

Rakino Island
You never know, those images of running a start up from Rakino Island in the Hauraki Gulf just might come true! Something genuine variety new media hotshots heading to Auckland for this week-ends XMedia Lab might want to ponder on.

From Price to Value
Mobile as a real alternative broadband option will always be a winner for the corporate road warrior with a smart phone, a frequent flyer card, and a lot of email. Cracking the SME, and/or domestic market is of course a different scenario.

To get to that - as every telco in the world always wants to tell us - we need to start thinking value, as opposed to price.

The Deck
And that means constructing a triage offer where the device - the data rate, and the on deck [exclusive to the subscriber] content combine inside a value proposition which each market segment finds compelling.

Within this triage, Telecom XT's price strategy is all about thinning out the complexity [from the current 60 plans to 14] - building certainty - i.e with this plan you get X and a not Y. And building loyalty - with this plan, you get access to this content, and by extension, this community of your peers, at this price.

This strategy also links with the devices they unveiled. They range from entry level handsets, to top of the range Blackberry and Nokia, et al. And a clear message the iPhone will be there as soon as they can get the right deal with Apple.

Maori predictive txt
On launch they will also have a special Bebo phone, and, in a lovely little cultural body swerve, a Telecom handset of their own which does predictive text in Maori.

On the content side, in a pitch aimed at the younger demographic, aka YOOF, the emphasis is on the clickable, sharable, content end of txt, fotos and video.

This includes, on day one, a free txting offer among Bebo users [almost all NZ students?], as well as free uploads of camera fotos and video.

TWorld Mobile Portal
There will also be a new TWorld mobile portal in conjunction with Yahoo. This will include music downloads and video - including, it's confirmed, some yet to be announced TV offers. These to be both local and international.

So all on all an interesting mix - new devices - new speeds and price plans - plus some opening content offers to keep what appears to be the initial Yoof target market on the deck, making, using, and consuming content, and open to more offers down the line.

I also liked the energy in the room. There seems some real willingness from all parties - consumer - press - Telecom - to try for a new way of talking.

Extending the mix?
But what of the next move? Take devices for example? Though definitely a cool set of new toys - there was just nothing at all on view that wasn't a hand held - except for Paul Reynolds at one point waving, with enthusiasm, the new Telecom mobile USB stick.

When Santa comes to call
So what would I, the original incumbent Paul Reynolds, like for Christmas to go with the promise of 21 Mb/s ? Well that's just too easy!

On the device side, I would like to see, touch and be able to buy a really cool e-reader, and/or netbook.

On the content side, I would like, in addition to a sway of subscription based video and sound, a whole raft of local and international magazine and publishing content on the deck as a subscription offer, including the TLS, The New Yorker, and the Economist, as well as some local content in the likes of Idealog, NBR , and possible the Listener. But that's me. You make your own lucky bag.

NZ Culture Club
I would also like a NZ culture club! This means, in addition to the international and local material mentioned above, I would like the New Zealand book trade to put up a sustainable e-book offer for inclusion on any reader, or mobile device. Oh, and while I am about it, can all New Zealand residents have access to the digital content resources of EPIC.

I would also like to see some of our key cultural institutions freeing up their digital content and streaming it out onto mobile devices of all varieties.

And wouldn't it be fantastic to see a new content industry making content for the mobile deck, and that includes getting access to the funding models of the likes of NZOA, Creative NZ, NZTE etc. It would also be great to see some new local gaming ideas in there as well.

Will we play/pay
All of the above requires Telecom, [and others] to start thinking very laterally about local and offshore content subscription deals to multiple content audiences on multiple devices. From the evidence on view on Wednesday you have to say that energy and commitment just might be to hand inside the new Telecom and their XT network.

The question is - can this energy be matched by the local creative and cultural agencies who, hitherto, have content, or the idea, but no channel.

I'm not saying this is an easy ask. Indeed, for some, especially in the traditional local magazine world, this will mean moving away from their current sense of lost entitlement. For others, as exampled by our own local Idealog, it might just be the opportunity they have been looking for.

But the really big question is - if Telecom XT fulfils their promise and starts building a compelling local content deck - will we push play/pay?

Update: iPhone works just fine on Telecom XT
Note: By the by - I am currently trialing an iPhone from Apple, Australia. As agreed, it arrived without any mobile offer. I have been using my Vodafone SIM card on it. And yes - it was working just fine.

At the press launch, Telecom XT gave me, and everyone else in the room, a test SIM card which lasts for 4 weeks.

Small setting change for data
I put it in the iPhone. It worked just fine right away for voice. To get data, I had to make a change in the settings: Settings/General/Network - check or confirm Enable 3G box.
Then Cellular Data/APN. Change APN settings to
Thanks to Chris Keal at NBR for this, here

Other settings
See also the excellent Neal Richardson, NZ Geekzone for WAP settings etc, here

Paddington Bear comes to the British Museum

Hallo Paddington
Have people seen this urban legend? Apparently, its the real McCoy - nothing to do with Google - our Paddington just happened to be passing, or so they say :)

Anyway - it's a nice Friday moment. Click the image and go straight to Streetview - or click here.

Times Online
Want more odd images from UK Streetview. The Times Online has 11 more, here

Thursday 21 May 2009

Moving from old provider to Orcon ADSL 2 here at McGovern

Moving to Orcon ADSL 2
This is just by way of a note to say normal service will be resumed on this blog once we have sorted out the move to the Orcon Platinum Business plan, here at McGovern.

Things are looking okay for Internet - with some lovely test speeds - but given we run our own Exchange server for email, plus a bunch of test sites, and some development projects, it has not been totally painless. But I think it is now stable and sorted!

Thanks Orcon , especially Paul and Gergor, for holding our hand - and thanks to our local It support people, and Jason, at WorldNZ.

Speed Test - Rocking!
Using at 3:45pm - i.e afternoon I logged a DSL test for both Auckland and London

Auckland to Auckland : 20.60Mb/s down and 0.86Mb/s down
London/Auckland : 9.2 Mb/s down 0.46 Mb/s

Small - fast - smart - niche NZ ?
Rocking on the download. Very good indeed. Orcon should be proud of that!
But it would be good to see a bit of upside on the upload? But that's NZ for you. We just don't seem to think the up-path is that important. Given our ambitions for small - fast - smart and niche- maybe its time we changed that!

Wednesday 20 May 2009

TED : Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert on creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's billed as "a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk"
Source TED, here

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Wolfram Alpha - is Google afraid of the Big Bad Wolf

Introduction to Wolfram Alpha by Stephen Wolfram
Uploaded by batence1986
Use right hand menu option to get full screen option

Wolfram Alpha
I found this brilliant new semantic search site via on the Huffington Post from Steve Rosenbaum's article,Is Goggle Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, last night, here.

Then I went and had a look at the Wolfram Alpha site, here. I tried the example Rosenbaum used, IBM, Apple. Then I sat and looked at the next phase of the web of data/semantic web quietly play on the screen.

Then I went and looked at Wolf's introductory video on the site. It didn't have an embed. So I used Google [sorry about that Mr G] to find out where it was, here. You can try my route or find one of your own. But the real trick is to and give it a test run for yourself - here!

NZ-Libs Mailing List has this post:
"Two posts from Mashable showing that that the developers behind Wolfram Alpha have a sense of humor"

Other comments
Some people are less than impressed, and others hapy to see how it pans out.
1. Keith Ng, local blogger, here,
2. UK Telegraph - Review of reviews, here.
3. Read Write Web, here

Monday 18 May 2009

Small miracles abound: the 2009 Directory of New Zealand Libraries

The NZ Directory of Libraries
There is an update to the Directory of New Zealand Libraries. Word edition, here. PDF, here. The above screen shot, on click, will take you to the searchable database shown.

Note, this is a directory of all NZ libraries, and includes teritiary, special, and insitutional libraries as well as the plain old fashioned but still rocking them in the aisle small miracle, public variety.

Christos Tsiolkas - on the small miracle of the public library.
Small miracle variety? Christchurch City Council Library blogging team did some great interviews at the recent Auckland Writers and Readers Week, including one with Christos Tsiolkas, the Melbourne based winner of the Commonwealth Foundation Writers Award. The session includes this lovely jem on public libraries:

<<<< " Christos Tsiolkas, he said that wandering the shelves at libraries saved his life.

“In the sense that, it was through the public libraries that …

His eyes look down as the sentence trails away, but he opens up his life to explain:

“In my early adolescence I was not a very happy young man, dealing with issues of sexuality, dislocation – I’d gone from a heavily migrant school to a quite Anglo, what we call skip in Australia, school. I felt quite displaced.

“I used to escape both to the library at school, but also to the public library near my home and just wander the shelves. I picked up everything. I spent hours in the film section and got introduced to the writings of Pauline Kael, the writings of Jim Agee – and then I would go and discover literature.

“That’s one of the things about the space of a library. You can go and do that wandering. There’s something about the solidity of the space and the communality of the space is really important to me.

Tsiolkas also sees the value of libraries as a place for community.

“I love that you see the young students – a lot of them are Muslims, because it’s a heavily Arab area where I live, but they may be Vietnamese, the may be Anglo, they may be Greek . They’re using the computers and you realise not every home has that access that a lot of us take for granted.

“You see old men reading the newspapers in their community language, you see young kids wandering the shelves like I did and picking up ideas and picking up new discoveries – that’s exciting.”

Even in the digital age, libraries have an important role, he says.

“You can do that kind of searching on the internet, but you can’t do it in that communal way that the public library represents. In an incredibly globalised, rationalised world it’s a kind of a small miracle that we hold on to them. It’s important that we do.”

source, and more, here

Telecom XT meets an Aardvark

Auckland Town Hall Mike Mizrahi Light Show
Over the weekend of the Auckland Writers Festival, the evening crowds all got to see the light show , by Mike Mizrahi, on the Auckland Town Hall which celebrates the upcoming launch of the Telecom NZ XT network.

The light show is but part of a huge media and marketing campaign on the benefits of the network. Long time Internet commentator, and general mad scientist about the boom blocks, Bruce Simpson put together this little mick taker and posted it on YouTube. I like it.

Bruce Simpson - Aardvark
Among his many other accomplishments Bruce Simpson was the originator of 7am News and Aardvark, the Internet news site. Though still going, it's fair to say it no longer commands the wide readership it did.

Which no doubt is all fair enough - however, there is a bit of an Internet legend story here, and it would be a pity if people completely lost sight of Bruce Simpson's contribution to the early Internet in New Zealand.

Thus, way back in the days when a the blog word was a typo, he was up at the crack of dawn sifting and separating, and then pumping out on his Aardvark site his own variety of opinion and breaking news sources in a unique blend of opinionated aggregation.

Connecting the Clouds
The Internet NZ commissioned Connecting the Clouds, The Internet in New Zealand doesn't give him, or Aardvark a mention. I think this is a real pity, and needs rectification on their online wiki edition, here.

It's also good to see he can still make a point in his own inimitable style. Nice to see your handwriting on the wire again, Mr Simpson, sir!

Sunday 17 May 2009

2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize - winners announced in Auckland

The overall winners of the 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize were announced today (Saturday 16 May) at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in New Zealand.

Overall Winner - Christos Tsiolkas The Slap (Allen and Unwin)
The bestselling author of Loaded and Dead Europe turns his attention to middle-class suburban Australia and its notions of child-rearing and acceptable behaviour. Christos Tsiolkas was born and grew up in Melbourne.

He is the author of three novels: Loaded (1995), which was made into the feature film Head On (1998), The Jesus Man and Dead Europe which won the 2006 Age Fiction Prize and the 2006 Melbourne Best Writing Award. He is also a playwright, essayist and screenwriter. Christos Tsiolkas lives in Melbourne.

Best First Book Winner - Mohammed Hanif A Case of Exploding Mangoes (Vintage)

Why did a Hercules C130, the world's sturdiest plane, carrying Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq, go down on 17 August, 1988? Mohammed Hanif's debut novel takes one of the subcontinent's enduring mysteries and spins a tale as rich and colourful as a beggar's dream. Mohammed Hanif was born in Okara, Pakistan. He flew in the Pakistan Air Force before pursuing a career in journalism.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2008 and was longlisted for the Man Booker Award 2008. Hanif is the former head of the BBC's Urdu Service in London and now lives in Pakistan.

The two winners received their prizes from the Governor-General of New Zealand, Hon Sir Anand Satyanand. The Best Book winner Christos Tsiolkas received a prize of £10,000 (approx NZD 26,000), while the Best First Book winner Mohammed Hanif claimed £5,000 (NZD 13,000).

More on judges comments. plus other comments, see, commonwealth Foundation, here

Saturday 16 May 2009

Future of Learning

This is from Stephen Heppell, via CoreEd to which grateful thanks

<<<" For a while in the UK the government education department DfES, (which then became DCSF), articulated some extraordinary moments of clarity - and often Eileen Devonshire was at the heart of this work to open the key debates needed if government policy was to keep up with the pace of innovation in schools and industry. One such contribution was to commission (from the talented folk at Magic Lantern) this short video about the future of learning: students, NQTs, wise old owls, Anthony Minghella (sadly missed), Prof Sir Magdi Yacoub, Sir Paul Smith, Sir Trevor McDonald, old archive footage, and all sorts. I got to narrate it - fab little buzz of video for professional development etc.

Is the future in front or behind us? Thoughts on George Freidman - Stratfor

The future - where are you?
The title question, is the future in front of us, or behind us sounds daft. But is it? We are used to the idea it is in front of us. However, here is Aotearoa, Maori people would have no difficulty in answering the opposite - it's behind us - because we have our back to the future as we contemplate the immediate and deep past.

I like that. It appeals to the my inner historian. It reminds me of that lovely question and answer What was the effect of the French Revolution? Answer, too early to tell?

These thoughts came easily as I wait for the beginning of the next session at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century
George Friedman is billed as "a renowned expert in geopolitics and forecasting, and the author of several books including The Future of War and America’s Secret War and most recently, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century"

He also has his own private global intelligence firm STRATFOR which predicts the future, by, we are told, drawing on history and geopolitical patterns dating back hundreds of years.

So what does he predict? Among his options are, a natural population decline, solar energy directed from huge panels rigged up beyond the earth’s atmosphere, and that America will continue to be the dominant power in the world.

He was billed to explain why he thought this.

Did he succeed?
Not for me. Basically I watched him deliver all of the above as a series of facts, and in a tone of such certainty that was impressive in itself. Trouble is, although he might do this in his book, he didn't offer a shred of justification.

I also found his dismissal of China as a potential rival to USA hegemony totally mystifying. He also managed to ignore the possible impact on our future by other countries like India, Brazil etc with effortless ease - by way of the simple expedient of not mentioning them.

Leighton Smith
He did impress me in one regard - and in the process achieved the near impossible - he made Leighton Smith, his brother in-law, interviewer on stage, and local talk back host, look like a wilting liberal.

Friday 15 May 2009

Passageways - Facing the Music

My first session of this morning, Friday, had me sitting in a hall of enthusiasts listening to Hamish Keith orchestrate a conversation with Ann Thwaite and Joanna Woods. Both have recently published books which share migration as a major theme.

I enjoyed it - as I think they did. Hamish K's doesn't exactly chair, as lead the conversation into common paths of interest. And, yes, by definition they have to interest him, with no side trails,unless of course he blazes them in advance.

That said, he did bring out the best of these two lovely writers, both of whom wear their considerable scholarship lightly. They talk, congratulate each other, and almost everything they say is about someone else's contribution, instead of their own.

Thwaite's family history, Passageways, tells the story of a family on two sides of the world from the mid-19th century, when all her great-grandparents arrived in New Zealand, until 1945 when the writer and her brother returned to London after their wartime evacuation as children. Her parents were the founder-publishers of New Zealand News in London.

Facing the Music
Joanna Woods' biography of migrant Charles Baeyertz, Facing the Music, is in part the story of New Zealand's first significant cultural publication, The Triad, which became an Australasian magazine based in Sydney. This trans Tasman collaboration, as both authors explore, was a commonplace. Indeed for many Mainlanders [South Islanders] a trip to Melbourne was easier than one to Auckland.

Both works share a common interest in bringing the late 19th and early 20th century, so often the neglected periods of New Zealand's past, back into focus,

The Jamie Bellich re-colonisation theory
More particularly, this shared interest in New Zealands metropolitan pre-British home farm days, made for a lively reconsideration of the Bellich re-colonisation theory of New Zealand history- of how in the late 19th century, the emerging farming hegemony usurped the cosmopolitan metropolitan centers as the locus of power and influence in the pursuit of profit by becoming the home farm to the UK

This thesis of the "marginalisation of the metropolitan" proved a fertile discursive centre for all three panelists. And in the process they offered an open invitation for others to go have a look, beginning with these two books.

I for one will be taking up the invitation

Auckland Writers and Readers , 2009 , opening night

Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, 2009, the opening
The opening session of the Auckland Writers Festival saw a packed audience at the Aotea Centre look up expectantly at a beautifully lit, if rather drab, set of armchairs , and their accompanying wan palms, waiting for the appearance of the opening authors.

After the obligatory speeches, including a rather good opening from Chris Findlayson the NZ Minster of the Arts, the first famous five walked a little self consciously onto the stage.

David Malouf , the elder statesman with his hardback copy of of Ransom elegantly on view. Then came the stunning Orange Prize-winning Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, with her short story collection , Thing Around Your Neck. Then, Tash Aw, the Brideshead thin, and as we learned beautifully spoken, author of his second novel Map of the Invisible World, Monica Ali striding 0n stage almost matriarchal in her confidence, hardly surprising given the success of Brick Lane, et al, and her new novel The Kitchen firmly in view. Finally, came Christos Tsiolkas, whose Australian novel The Slap has apparently been causing a bit of a fuss since its publication.

Standing to the side smiling in welcome like a benign moustached Mr Pickwick's grandson stood NZ broadcaster, and chair for the evening, Mark Sainsbury.

The batting order
Christos Tsiolkas opening the batting with a reading from The Slap, a weaving domestic tale of multiple family impacts consequent to a lost temper and a hit child at a suburban barbecue. It was a great reading - and definitely set a tone - that good writing can grip immediately, taking you into the hot eucalyptus heat of a suburban Melbourne garden in a heartbeat.

The other instant atmospheric piece came from Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her story, set inside a north American campus apartment of a young Nigerian woman, jumped three layers of complexity in as many minutes. It began with a young Nigerian woman opening the door to her unannounced Nigerian neighbour who wants them to pray together on the day of a horrific plane crash "back home".

With clipped centred phrases setting content - woman - strange man - urban US apartment, it moves almost effortlessly into a steam of images which invoke and binds them to a shared identity and place. And there it is - how language holds as well as liberates - creates obligations as well as promises. Opens doors and then produces the lock.

David Malouf's effortless reading of his imagined replay of the old man Priam going for the body of his dead son at the siege of Troy intrigued me, although I suspect I needed the book, a chair and a reading lamp for the right focus.

The same applies to Tash Aw - but with a different location - perhaps beginn9ng with a long slow read to one of the coffee tables on London's spreading South Bank, the better to c0-locate and so absorb the play of Europe and Malaysian voices.

Speaking of voices, Monica Ali's command of the many sounds of multi cultural London has always been one of her great strengths. If the reading she gave from her new novel, The Kitchen, is anything to go by, then she has once again found a great structure to explore her talent for combining the intimate with the political.

Also on view was her lovely combination of curiosity, confidence and questioning that I associate with the best of London - that whatever else it might be, it is a city which, if you can find your place to stand, will always find room for you and what it is you are trying to say.

A bit like literary festivals!

Thursday 14 May 2009

Searchology : Google Universal search - the May presentation in full


The post on the Wonder Wheel and the Timeline feature from Google has proven very popular. This YouTube video is now to hand which shows the entire webcast. Beware it is just on 2 hours. From memory, the Wonder Wheel comes in around 50 mins in - but feel free to check - and play around. Still trying to locate the slide deck that was also part of the presentation.

The Wordshed - Christos Tsiolkas, from his novel 'Dead Europe'


Christos Tsiolkas is appearing at the Auckland Writers Festival this weekend. He is the Greek-Australian author of four novels and 'one of Australia's pre-eminent contemporary novelists' (The Age). Tsiolkas is also a playwright, essayist and screen writer.

His novels include Loaded (1995), which was made into the feature film Head-On, The Jesus Man (1999), Dead Europe (2005), which won the 2006 Age Fiction Prize and the 2006 Melbourne Best Writing Award, and his most recent novel The Slap, where a man slaps a child (not his own) at a suburban barbeque, the consequences of which reverberate through the lives of all of the witnesses to the incident.

Tsiolkas lives in Melbourne. His visit to the Auckland Writers Festival is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.

The Wordshed
The Wordshed' is a six part series of half-hour poetic TV shows, composed of interviews, readings, mini essays and performances by Australian and international poets and writers. Originally screened nationally on Access TV 31 and C31, the Wordshed has now been edited for YouTube and iTunes podcasts into individual Pinches, with each interview now viewable separately..

Presented by Johanna Featherstone, on behalf of the Writing and Society Research Group in the College of Arts, Education and Social Sciences at the University of Western Sydney .

Writers interviewed included David Malouf, Sonya Hartnett, Catherine Rey, Brian Castro, Luke Davies, John Tranter, Christos Tsiolkas and Peter Goldsworthy.

'The Wordshed' is the first project that links The Red Room Company with HEAT magazine and The University of Western Sydney.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Auckland Writers Festival and David Malouf on Google Wonder Wheel

The Auckland Writers Festival
I took the Auckland Writers Festival phrase for a test drive on the Google Wonder Wheel - then I clicked on David Malouf which was one of the options. Have a go - this really is in interesting development

Google Wonder Wheel - the sematic web comes into view

Google Search
I have just come out of a Google streamed web session on their latest search strategies. Among their new features are enhancements to their very successful Universal Search tool, their framework for separating and combining different media types. Also on show was a new time line feature, and a bunch of additions to their mobile search methodologies.

Wonder Wheel - semantic web takes a step into the google world
But the feature that really caught my eye is their new "Wonder Wheel . You get to it by making an ordinary search - then, when you get the result, click on the 'show options" link in the top left hand corner.

When you get to the new screen you should see another left hand menu of options including the Timeline. One of these is the very nondescript looking 'Wonder Wheel'. Click it - and then watch the semantic web take a blushing entrance to the world of Google.

The semantic context wheel
The search term I used was Ottoline Morell. I know - I need to get out more; but, hey, did you know that Bertram Russell thought she was more important to his happiness than philosophy.

The point of course is the way the image then brings in Bloomsbury, and when that is clicked another series of linked sources and topics around that theme come into view. This is a total deal changer, especially if Google let people at the code to play with the visualisations.
Note: I don't know how persistent the search URL is - but try clicking the image above - if it is, it should take you to my original search screen.

Time line feature
The Time line feature is also seriously interesting, and well worth exploring - would be brilliant to be able to export it as an embed and place it inside a web document.

Future of the Book

Post Kindle DX musings
I've had some interesting comments and feedback from my musings on the Kindle DX. I'm also hearing of some of the bigger schools and smaller polytechnics here in New Zealand are at a very early reconnaissance stage around using the Kindle DX as a text repository. So definitely something to follow.

Local moblile telco?
However, it still needs a mobile telco to complete the triage of content, connectivity. Would be good to hear at least a glimmer of interest from the local candidates on this? Perhaps I might raise it with my name sake at the launch party of the Telecom NZ next Wednesday!

Martin Taylor
All of which makes this upcoming conference, June 24th and June 25th, The Future of the Book, all the more interesting. The text below comes from the organisers, the NZ Digital Publishing Forum.

The Forum Director is Martin Taylor whose track record in New Zealand publishing needs no introduction from me. We have talked and corresponded on a number of the topics the conference is looking to surface.

Libraries and Digital Books
One of these exchanges came from his tongue in cheek blog post that public libraries should not lend or even stock e-book s. Actually, I'm not even sure it was tongue in cheek. You can follow the post, and the response, including mine, here. In the meantime, herewith the detail of the conference:

Future of the Book Conference: June 24/25th, 2009 Auckland
" The Future of the Book
The future of the book is digital, mobile and global
. The changes sweeping this US$100 billion global industry ― and increasingly newspapers and magazines too ― promise the biggest change in how we read since the invention of the printing press. This major conference explores their impact on New Zealand and the new opportunities opening up globally for smart media and technology players.
  • Features top international keynotes to engage senior decision makers from publishing, technology, education and the creative sector.
  • A special Future of the Book in Education stream highlights global opportunities in e-learning
  • A Digital Rights Marketplace, running alongside, will open up a vast amount of content to innovative new digital media applications.
  • The Networking Lounge and Product Showcase provides a place to come and do business.

The Future of the Book conference will give New Zealand organisations the tools and partnerships to engage in the emerging consumer and educational markets for digital content.

Who Should Participate

  • Publishers – consumer, trade and educational across a range of media
  • Technology providers
  • Content providers looking for technology partners
  • Developers looking for content partners
  • E-Learning providers
  • Retailers, libraries, suppliers and service providers
  • Investors
  • Anyone who can help build an internationally competitive digital publishing industry based in New Zealand

The Future of the Book conference is organised by the Digital Publishing Forum, an industry group formed by book publishers, authors and their copyright licensing agency. The Forum's aim is to accelerate the growth of digital publishing in New Zealand. A key part of this is exposing this rapidly emerging global opportunities to new, as well as existing, players.

For more information, visit For details on conference speaking and sponsorship opportunities, contact Martin Taylor, Forum Director on +64-9-529-9573 or .This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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