Wednesday 30 September 2009

E-Curator: A 3D web-based archive for conservators and curators

Ariadne, courtesy of IATUL NewsAlerts  reports on:
"E-Curator: A 3D web-based archive for conservators and curators

Digital heritage technologies promise a greater understanding of cultural objects cared for by museums. Recent technological advances in digital photography and image processing not only offer a high level of documentation, they also provide powerful analytical tools for conservation monitoring of cultural objects.

Museums are increasingly turning to digital documentation and relational databases to administer their collections for a variety of tasks: detailed description, intervention planning, loan. Online collection databases support the remote browsing of collections.

Such imaging technologies open up radically new ways of knowing and engaging with collections, something which we are only really beginning to understand as of now. From remote accessing of objects to 3D displays and documentation, digital heritage technologies offer the potential to transform the very nature of the museum experience both from a professional viewpoint, and from the perspective of the visitor.

The E-Curator Project was set up in 2007 precisely to explore some of these issues, using state-of-the-art imaging facilities at University College London (UCL). A collaborative project involving anthropologists, curators, and engineers, the principal aim of the project was to develop a new tool for museum and heritage conservation documentation.

The use of an Arius3D laser scanner, housed in the UCL Geomatic Engineering Department, has enabled us to experiment with 3D documentation and the collaborative sharing of virtual 3D images of museum artefacts. We are evaluating 3D laser scanning for cultural heritage with methods from engineering metrology, bridging the gaps between conservation, curation and metric survey."

Go to source: 

Ariadne is published every three months by UKOLN. UKOLN is funded by MLA the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the Higher Education Funding Councils, as well as by project funding from the JISC and the European Union. UKOLN also receives support from the University of Bath where it is based. Material referred to on this page is copyright Ariadne (University of Bath) and original authors.

Carl Sagan - 'A Glorious Dawn' ft Stephen Hawking (Cosmos Remixed)


If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch
You must first invent the universe

Space is filled with a network of wormholes
You might emerge somewhere else in space
Some when-else in time

The sky calls to us
If we do not destroy ourselves
We will one day venture to the stars

A still more glorious dawn awaits
Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise
A morning filled with 400 billion suns
The rising of the milky way

The Cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths
Of exquisite interrelationships
Of the awesome machinery of nature

I believe our future depends powerfully
On how well we understand this cosmos
In which we float like a mote of dust
In the morning sky

But the brain does much more than just recollect
It inter-compares, it synthesizes, it analyzes
it generates abstractions

The simplest thought like the concept of the number one
Has an elaborate logical underpinning
The brain has it's own language
For testing the structure and consistency of the world

For thousands of years
People have wondered about the universe
Did it stretch out forever
Or was there a limit

From the big bang to black holes
From dark matter to a possible big crunch
Our image of the universe today
Is full of strange sounding ideas

How lucky we are to live in this time
The first moment in human history
When we are in fact visiting other worlds

The surface of the earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean
Recently we've waded a little way out
And the water seems inviting

source - here

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Wellington Confidential: NZ Treasury looking to save 30 per cent 'back office' costs

NZ Treasury wants to save 30 percent of IT costs
Courtesy of Twitter and a news report today from the Dominion Post, I learned that the NZ Treasury held a vendor briefing in Wellington last Friday, to outline their plans to centralised 'back office' services, and save 30 per cent of costs through savings and increased productivity. Quite what the scale and intent of the latter encompasses, is yet to be detailed. However, it's reported that this includes, IT Services. 

These, days, as with its mystic twin, 'interactive' when I hear the phrase IT services, I reach for my gun. I mean, in an age when every conceivable human activity  from birth to death, has an ICT touch point, what in the name of a parallel universe of flying blue ducks does IT services mean?

Centralise back office - save 30%
Well apparently, according to Fairfax Media's Dominion Post, here,  whatever it is, the NZ Treasury believes the 30 per cent savings are achievable. 

As to how - what - and why - well we are in the dark on all three. However, given that according to OECD figures, New Zealand government services, both local and national, take up 35% of GDP, we are not talking trivial here.  Indeed, taking logic to the extreme, it would appear that NZ Treasury have found at least a corner casing to the holy grail of public service efficiencies?

Testing the quality of the gold plate
So how do we test this claim? Ah - well there's the first obstacle. Apparently, the announcement came at a vendor briefing held by Treasury last Friday, at which its claimed the participants were advised the briefing was confidential.

It's also reported that at the meeting  Treasury officials hinted they were looking for a single provider of a size and reach that could handle the load. Sub text - a multinational - or at least one of the big consulting giants - with no need for the small - the gifted and the agile to apply because, according to a Treasury participant, ' he doubted there were many small service providers with the expertise and experience sought'.

2nd October, 2009, 11am, 1 The Terrace, Wellington for another briefing
Missed the first installment of Wellington Confidential? Want to test the accuracy of these reports for yourself? Never fear -  I learn from GETS, the government tender site, that there will be a second briefing to be held at 11am on 2nd October, at the Treasury, No1 the Terrace, Wellington

The forum
is for vendors 'interested in providing the Treasury with management and technology consulting services' Additionally, the forum will 'indicate Treasury’s requirements in relation to benchmarking and the preparation of a business case to support a whole of government initiative'

How big was the room?
And yes, this is indeed a repeat of the same forum described by the Dominion report and is being held, again according to GETS, 'because many vendors were unable to fit into the venue'

It's also noted that the material used at last Friday’s forum will not be posted on GETS until after this weeks forum.
So, if interested, prospective vendors should RSVP indicating numbers to

Some thoughts for the briefing
As I live in Auckland, and have prior commitments, I wont be able to attend.  However, someone might like to ask some questions on my behalf?

NZ Treasury versus SSC?
First, why is this being run by the NZ Treasury? I thought the notion of an integrated public sector, and in particular, a vibrant and efficient e-government strategy was the responsibility of the NZ State Services Commission, SSC ?

Also, what is the role and status of the NZ CIO here?  Since the last incumbent resigned, the notion of a joint up strategy for government services seems to have taken a back seat - at least from an SCC perspective. And now we have NZ Treasury running briefings? Doesn't make a lot of sense from way up here in Auckland.

The Wellington thing
Of course, that might be entirely the whole point. For those unfamiliar with the way NZ Government works, it's hard to get over how central Wellington is to the whole of the government procurement process. Not only does half the city work in government, it feels - not entirely fairly I might add - that the other half consists of companies servicing the various needs of government.

And, being essentially a small town, everyone talks to everyone else, so sometimes it feels like people don't feel the need to consult wider, because everyone who needs to know, will already have heard. Without raising my head to think, I can count two projects that immediately fit that bill.

That said
That said, and to balance the analysis, in the ICT and online service delivery area - a couple of other nuances are worth noting. Firstly, there is already a substantial market for the big multinational integrators, especially around platform and service support. Secondly, the big consulting firms do seem to have a healthy, and I might add very competent relationship with the NZ public sector around strategy and independent policy advice, even if their pre-cooked methodologies can, on occasion, appear on the laptop, just a tad too early.

The Third Sector - small - bright - agile
However, there is a third sector - if I may call it that - one which consists of a myriad of small firms -  studios - agencies - who, either as consultants, boutique service studios, provide the bulk of the external consultancy, support and development to the plethora of public agencies who see online as a core service delivery channel.
And for sure, I should declare an interest in that I co-run one of these.

No doubt, especially from the perspective of people who don't use them, from the outside dealing with this sector can look messy and disconnected. In short, untidy.

However, it's to be hoped that the NZ Treasury hasn't got it into its head that untidy is inefficient. Or worse, stupid. And that some single agency, or a few competing big contracts will provide the magic efficiencies. Nothing feels more likely to provide exactly the opposite .

Like the rest of the web, online government services - especially when trying to connect with the emerging social and semantic personalised web, needs small, smart and agile.  'Tis to be hoped someone takes the opportunity to remind them of this on Friday.

Mike Pearson, free lance consultant, and former SSC  solution architect has posted a good summary of the session, here.

Sunday 27 September 2009

The Times, UK, picks the 50 best paperbacks of 2009

The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale: Reinvestigation of a killing in an isolated Wiltshire house that became the prototype for the Victorian murder mystery.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: Adiga’s first novel and Man Booker winner is a highly original story about the lengths to which Balram Halwai (the White Tiger) must go to break free of his caste.

Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama

Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier

Churchill’s Wizards by Nicholas Rankin: Along with cigars and rallying speeches, Churchill liked deception. Rankin reveals the ingenuity of the men and women who fought Winnie’s secret war.

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden

The Palace of Strange Girls by Sallie Day: In 1959, the burgeoning freedom of the Sixties forces a crisis at the heart of the superficially stable Singleton family on their annual trip to Blackpool.

Mystery Man by Colin Bateman

The Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Noble

The Other Half Lives by Sophie Hannah: Aidan Seed, a picture-framer, confesses to his girlfriend, Ruth, that he killed a woman called Mary Trelease. But Ruth knows her and that she’s still alive.

The Return by Victoria Hislop: Sonia, a PR exec, flees her banker husband to dance flamenco in Granada. But the Spanish Civil War’s turbulent legacy permeates her experience.

The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver: The retired criminalist and quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme teams up with his paramour Amelia Sachs to trace “Unknown Subject 522”, the identity-stealing villain.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The Reapers by John Connolly

A Most Wanted Man by John le Carré

The Unicorn Road by Martin Davies

Remember Me by Melvyn Bragg: The estrangement of two young lovers has a tragic ending in Swinging Sixties London. The fourth in a series of Bragg’s autobiographical novels.

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

Testimony by Anita Shreve: A videotape of three boys and an under-age girl performing sex acts is found at a New England boarding school. It sparks a disproportionately damaging scandal.

The Bolter by Frances Osborne

In the Dark by Mark Billingham

The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams: A reunion between a solitary moth expert and her sister in their creepy childhood home masterfully reveals the rivalry and strange secrets that bind them.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer: Meyer’s first novel for adults is set in a future in which humans have been body-snatched by mind-controlling aliens. It involves a love triangle with only two bodies.

Full Hearts and Empty Bellies by Winifred Foley

The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri

Revelation by C. J. Sansom: While Henry VIII is pursuing Catherine Parr, Matthew Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer, is on the trail of a serial killer who is a religious fanatic.

The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

The Way Things Look to Me by Roopa Farooki

An Equal Stillness by Francesca Kay: Rivalry between painters Jennett Mallow and David Heaton results in a competitive marriage. But drink dilutes his flair and lets her slow-burning talent eclipse his fame.

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben

Doors Open by Ian Rankin

Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly: When a Hollywood lawyer is murdered, Mickey Haller inherits his case. Enter detective Harry Bosch, hell-bent on trapping the killer and keen to use Haller as bait.

A Simple Act of Violence by R. J. Ellory

A Secret Alchemy by Emma Darwin

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid: An ambitious young Muslim leaves Pakistan to go to Princeton, where he wins a prestigious Wall Street job. But 9/11 changes his fortunes.

Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks: The Bond torch has passed to Faulks for the latest instalment of 007, picking up where Ian Fleming left off in 1966 with Octopussy and The Living Daylights.

The Believers by Zoë Heller

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Fractured by Karin Slaughter: An Atlanta housewife discovers her teenage daughter dead on the landing, with a stranger wielding a bloody knife. Special Agent Will Trent has his work cut out.

Becoming Queen by Kate Williams

Dambusters by Max Arthur: Fascinating oral history from the men in 617 Squadron whose key Second World War mission, Operation Chastise, was to destroy Ruhr dams.

The Murder Exchange by Simon Kernick

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith: Stalin’s Government won’t admit that crime exists in communist Russia. Exiled war hero Leo Demidov becomes an enemy of the state for hunting down a child serial killer.

When Will There be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

Keeping the Dead by Tess Gerritsen: A killer with a knack for ancient mummifying death rituals is leaving a trail of victims. The race is on to prevent him adding to his grisly collection.

Source plus full story, here

Friday 25 September 2009

New Zealand librarians respond to Dr Brian Edwards allegation that libraries are thieves

context - see here

Postscript -  6th October 2009
I've had a few notes asking me to explain this one. It's my tongue and cheek response to New Zealand broadcaster Brian Edwards who managed to get totally offside with the local library community by suggesting that public libraries, and by default librarians, are thieves.

Brian Edwards and Libraries 
He believes this because they lend his books which people might otherwise buy, and so deprive him of a royalty. His solution is to ask for libraries, or their customers to pay for a percentage of his royalty every time they take out one of his books. The latter, almost sensible idea  - until you try and figure out the logistics, was totally drowned out by the intemperance of his original remarks.

Curiously, in the week prior to the LIANZA annual conference of NZ librarians, BE has deleted the original post. And so the link above no longer works. This didn't go unnoticed as the comment on this blog shows.  

The Google Archive
The original post and the comments are in this Google archive link -  here - and thanks to the person who posted it to me. I suspect s/he is a librarian who knows how to keep track of thngs that have been published. Funny that.

The moral
Not a great idea to get offside with libraries, and their supporters. 

Interest Declaration
For the record, my company mcgovern online did the design and adaptation for the Brian Edwards, blog. Also, I have known and respected Brian Edwards for upwards of 15 years. He is an interesting, intelligent man, with a long track record of excellence in New Zealand broadcasting.  I think he is wrong about libraries - but that's the nature of open debate.

Also, as others have pointed out, it would be a pity if the deeper issues of how little authors get from a publishing deal is ignored. Also, as Edwards himself has asked, perhaps it is time to revist the terms and depth of the Public Lending Right for New Zealand Authors. Dertails on that here.

Archives - the [sometimes] forgotton star of the GLAM world

Thanks to Twitter and Gail Durbin of the V&A, for the heads up that National Archives UK have just put up a new version of their award winning education sub-site for schools and colleges, with all manner of lesson plans and activities sorted by curriculum level.

Like most things in the archive worlds, they have been rather shy about telling people. It seems to be a family trait. Which makes it even better that it was a museum colleague that started the Twitter wave on this.

Archives - the real//real oil?
Though arguably the place where the real-real oil is in terms of primary historical sources, national archives, especially online, are often the wallflowers to the more glamorous gallery, museum and increasingly visible national library collections.

Which is a pity. Here in New Zealand for example, the original Treaty of Waitangi lives in the NZ Archives, as do, literally miles/kilometers of other primary sources pertaining to the records of government.

National Archives UK
Up in the National Archives UK they cheerfully assert to having one of the largest in the world, with 11 million records, from Domesday Book to modern government papers. They also have in their collection paper and parchment records, electronic records and websites, photographs, posters and drawings.

Additionally they look after six million maps covering, 'not only the British Isles but also many countries and regions of the world' - the latter no doubt a gloss on the imperial reach of the British empire in its heyday .

My favourite areas
In this UK site, some of my favourite features are the wealth of detail inside the released cabinet papers, as well as some of the archival public service videos, including the seminal Jimmy Saville, Clunk Click, seat belt campaign; and of course, the now totally strange looking advice on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack!

To save you time, I can advise that  much of the latter seems to consist of hanging over your radio waiting for further reports. Well at least they didn't call it the wireless.

More seriously, they big takeout for me from both the main site and the education sub-site is the way  they they have let the primary sources speak for themselves without too much initial commentary. Which of course, in terms of making history - is totally what the big message needs to be.  Have a look, at all this and more, here

NZ War Art
Down here at Archives New Zealand,  I am still a big fan of the lovely online exhibition on New Zealand War Art online exhibition, here

It comprises about 1,500 artworks, including portraits, battle scenes, landscapes and abstracts. It shows those who served New Zealand in times of war, and the places they served in. It  includes works by artists formally commissioned by the NZ  government, as well as  unofficial art works that were acquired by or donated to the collection.

They also have a user tagging feature which I'm told has given Archives NZ some confidence on the whole user generated content thing.  Have  a look  for yourself.  Makes for an interesting Friday afternoon half hour, here?

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Books from the Library of Charles Brasch, Poet, 1909-1973.

I sat down in the evening to read

I really like this project  - Books from the Library of Charles Brasch, Poet, 1909-1973 , from  the Special Collections Library at the University of Otago, here. It showcases in a sensitive and interesting way some of the books from their Charles Brasch Library.  I especially like the lovely scans they have done of the covers, and the way the let the books take the limelight. Lovely piece of  work,

Chalres Brasch
Brasch is a bit of a literary legend in New Zealand - one time poet and founder and editor of the NZ Landfall literary magazine from 1947- 1966, where he  didn't so much talk about the idea of NZ literature, as invent it. That at least is my take - the Otago people put it this way:

" 2009 is Brasch year. Charles Orwell Brasch was born in Dunedin on 27 July 1909. He was educated at Waitaki Boys' High School and St John's College, Oxford. He lived abroad for many years working as a teacher in England, as an archaeologist in Egypt, and as a civil servant in wartime London.

He returned to New Zealand in 1946 and a year later founded Landfall, New Zealand's premier literary magazine. He was a patron of the arts, offering support and encouragement to many artists and writers.

He was also a fine poet, producing six volumes of verse, translating volumes of Russian, German and Indian poetry, and writing a memoir, published posthumously in 1980 as Indirections: A Memoir 1909-1947. He died 20 May 1973.

To achieve his literary output, Brasch read. His library of 7,500 volumes is housed at Special Collections, University of Otago Library.

This exhibition on the 100th anniversary of his birth celebrates his life through what he read. The documenting of an individual's reading habits is never easy; sometimes it is impossible.

However, by utilising Brasch's memoir and his journals, which have been recently transcribed, it has been possible to track what books he read and when. Books were re-read; books were not finished; books were praised; and of course there was always the critical eye..."

Now do you get why I am talking about this? What a great effort by the Otago peole. Congratulations!

Landfall is still going. It is published twice a year. See here for their rather light site. Would love an angel to come along and help do something with it online. Might even help!  Would also love to see someone with the right background make a better effort of the current page on Wikipedia, here. 

On the plus side, Kotare, 2008, on the NZETC has  a nice peice on Brasch, here.  Couldnt find much on Landfall itself. Perhaps someone can enlighten us all - has Landfall beeen digitised? If so where is it? And if not, should it be? And if so, by whom?

In any event - congrats again to Otago and the Special Library - this is a really lovely effort?

Tuesday 22 September 2009

George Oates - alive and kicking: Into The Wild: Breathing New Life Into Collections

George Oates - alive and kicking
George Oates was/is the inspirational source behind the Flickr Commons, that part of the Flickr photo sharing site which is populated by cultural institutions who want to put public domain works into a common framework where people can annotate - add value, or just plain enjoy.

In the process she taught these institutions that radical trust wasn't a therapy, but an attitude - which if grasped, would give them new ways of talking to and collaborating with the people formally known as the audience.

Flickr goes mad without mescalin
In a decsion, December 2008, which still stuns those who knew her work, including a whole bunch of key people from some of the biggest institutions - Flickr  decided that George Oates should be one of the people they needed to let go.  How they did that is still one of the best/worse case scenarios of how to seriously dent your brand with one dumb HR action.

George Oates - alive and kicking
But can you put the good guys down for long? Doesn't look like it if this presentation to the UK Society of Archivists just over a week ago is anything to go by. Go make a coffee -  pour some water - and/or  treat yourself to whatever else comes with that.  And just watch/read the gift of George Oates that just keeps on giving.

Flickr Commons now?

They tell me there is now a two year waiting list to join/participate in Flickr Commons - what gives? Does Flickr want to keep doing this? Anyone know?

And thanks to Courtney Johnston at the NZNL for the heads up.

Monday 21 September 2009

ReadWriteWeb's Top 5 Web Trends in 2009

Read Write Web
I have a lot of respect for the people at Read Write Web. This is their defacto list of top trends for 2009. They have also put up a mini essay on the five areas on their own site.I list these here for your convenience.
  1. Structured Data
  2. The Real-Time Web
  3. Personalization
  4. Mobile Web & Augmented Reality
  5. Internet of Things

Friday 18 September 2009

Some musings on the 2009 Man Booker short list

Man Booker 2009 shortlist
One week later I seem to have found my brain amidst the last shards of the jet lag. Amidst this tangle I remembered that the Man Booker shortlist had been announced 10 days ago.
The short list

A S Byatt The Children's Book (Random House, Chatto and Windus)
J M Coetzee Summertime (Random House, Harvill Secker)
Adam Foulds The Quickening Maze (Random House, Jonathan Cape)
Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall (HarperCollins, Fourth Estate)
Simon Mawer The Glass Room (Little, Brown)
Sarah Waters The Little Stranger (Little, Brown, Virago) 
 Note: the hyperlink on the title goes to a summary on the main Man Booker site, whose front door is here. There are also short audio readings, here.  There is also a Reading Group, Toolkit, here

The Judges
Chaired by broadcaster and author James Naughtie, the 2009 judges are Lucasta Miller, biographer and critic; Michael Prodger, Literary Editor of The Sunday Telegraph; Professor John Mullan, academic and author and Sue Perkins, comedian and broadcaster.

On the day of the short list launch they gave a press conference in which they offered an account of their choices. You can view this above. Note - there is a second part - which is on offer at the end as the first option in the panel at the bottom of the screen.

My favourite -  so far - A S Byatt - The Children's Book
Though I have yet to get through the whole list, I already have a soft spot for A S Byatt, The Childrens Book Apart from the quality of her writing, I really like the way she can handle ideas on the page. I also like her deep understanding of the Victorian literary/cultural landscape.

In The Children's Book, this understanding extends into the Edwardian interlude before the first world war as she tracks the progress of the characters - both adult and children- through the changing social and cultural landscape of England between 1895 and the 1st World War.

As part of this labyrinth of storytelling she also takes us on long swathes of comment on some of the social and political movements, in the likes of the social democracy of the early SDF and the WSPU [Suffragettes]. Much of this is great - some of it is fantastic - but occasionally you do need a cup of tea.

The V&A
Also, a number of the plot points intersect inside the V&A Museum - first known as the South Kensington Museum; so much so, you could almost stretch a point and call it one of her best characters - especially in the opening chapter when she tells of how it was developed as a resource for craftsmen to discover, "the best examples of design"[Audio snippet, here]

Creative Industries
These days we talk about partnerships "with the creative industries" as if the 21st century invented this kind of dialogue. Ms Byatt slays that pretension in Chapter 1, and in a glorious sub-text to the entire project digs it up now and then and gives it a  poke just to make sure it stays dead.

On that score alone she should win the Booker!

Thursday 17 September 2009

Michael Tuffery and the British Museum, with a nod to George Nuku

Michael Tuffery's 'Cookie in the Cook Islands'
The NZ Dominion reports this morning that the British Museum has bought Wellington artist, Michael Tuffery's 'Cookie in the Cook Islands', one of a series of his paintings which illustrate fact and fiction around Captain James Cook's exploration of the Pacific.

'Tuffery, 43, of Samoan, Tahitian and Rarotongan descent, said the name of the work used Cook's name as if he was a personal friend.

The acrylic-on-canvas work, painted last year, portrays the Yorkshire-born mariner with Polynesian features and flowers in his hair.

It was bought last month for an undisclosed sum; British Museum curator Natasha McKinney said. "[It] is an attractive, accessible and powerful representation of Captain James Cook, as a British audience will never have seen him before.'

The Dominion piece, and elsewhere, also report that Tuffery is the first Polynesian artist to have a painting bought by the British Museum. This is indeed something to celebrate, and its good to see the Dominion reporting on this. And congratulations to Michael Tuffery - it looks a powerful work.  It would be good to know if it has already left Aotearoa - or is there a chance to see it before it goes to its new home?

Other NZ/Maori works in the British Museum collection
When it does get there, it will find itself in some proud company. The BM has an outstanding collection of works from both the Pacific in general, and New Zealand in particular.

Continuity and change
For example, four weeks ago, I stood in front of a marvelous installation - Continuity and change:
 cultural dynamism in the modern world
. Among the mini collections from different parts of the world was a set of works from Maori and other Polynesian cultures, and among these are some stunning contributions by the very Maori/New Zealander George Nuku.

George Nuku
Nuku's realtionship with the British Museum goes back at least three years, when he was Maori Artist in Residence, 2006. Curiously, I was also lucky enough to see him at work on the last day of his residency. It would seem my London visits are to be book ended by a Nuku connection. And fine that by me!

On that trip, he was working inside the Grand Court, Oblivious to the stunned and totally respectful audience, he focused all his energies on a big block of polystyrene which he then transformed into one of his landmark carvings.

I can't find any of these works on the BM site. However, you can see an example of his work, in the Living and Dying Exhibition, Room 24, here

Venice Biennale and the Big Idea
More recently still, he was also a guest at the New Zealand stand at the recent Venice Biennale. The Big Idea, the local NZ arts portal, did a nice piece on this - and also put up a version of this video, here.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Bill Ralston on current state of TVNZ news

Bill Ralston
Bill Ralston, one time head of news and current affairs at New Zealand state broadcaster, TVNZ,  makes a welcome foray on Janet Wilson's, Bespoke Media, into the current state of television news in New Zealand, and in the process offers some trenchant critiques of the way news is packaged, here

Simon Pound
This post, in turn drew a thoughtful response from Simon Pound in his blog, here,  who, in agreeing with Ralston,  goes on to make other points on how the news package all too often interferes with the core of the story, and in the process offers its own bias.

Russell Brown Media7
All of the above is germane to the video clip above, a classic episode of Media7 from Russell Brown which, as is his wont, takes the issue for a nice long walk. The clip, and others from the Media 7 prgramme can be sourced from, here.

Chris Liddell - Microsoft TechEd 2009 - Auckland

Source - here

Monday 14 September 2009

Wallace Art Awards

The Correction, by Marcus Williams and Susan Jowsey.
Photo / Richard Robinson

The Big Idea NZ Arts portal reports ' A photographic work, The Correction, has won the top prize at the 2009 Wallace Art Awards.  The two photographs, by Marcus Williams and Susan Jowsey, won the Wallace Trust Paramount Award.

The Award includes a six month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Programme in New York, plus a bronze trophy by Terry Stringer.

The 18th Wallace Art Awards, with prizes amounting to more than $150,000, were announced and presented on 7 September at the Aotea Centre in Auckland.

This year 456 applications were received; of these 115 were selected as finalists and 44 works have been chosen by the judges for the Travelling Show and the rest are exhibited in the Salon des Refuses at the Wallace Trust Gallery.

The 2009 Judges were - New Zealand artist Philip Trusttum,  Associate Professor at Auckland University of Technology Christopher Braddock, and Rohan Weallans, Paramount Winner of the 2006 Wallace Art Award"

More details on winners et al at  the Big Idea web site, here.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Australian Cultural Funding - 2007-08 - analysis from Bureau of Statistics

Cultural funding by government, 2007-08
Estimates of Australian public funding for arts and cultural activities, facilities and services across the three levels of government for 2007-08. Detailed expenditure by local governments for heritage and arts cultural activities, facilities and services is provided for the first time. For local governments, expenditure for the 2006-07 year has also been included.

Total government funding for cultural activities was $6.3 billion in 2007-08 ($6,311.4m). The Australian Government contributed $2,358.9m (37.4%) to total cultural funding while the state and territory governments contributed $2,952.2m (46.8%) and local governments provided $1,000.3m (15.8%).


Australian Government
The Australian Government continues to allocate the majority of its cultural funding (75.8%) to Arts activities. In 2007-08 the Australian Government allocated $1,788.2m to Arts activities and $570.7m to Heritage activities.

Radio and television services received the majority of Australian government Arts funding at $1,352.7m (75.6%) while other museums and cultural heritage received the majority of Heritage funding at $232.3m (40.7%).
State and territory government
State and territory governments allocated $2,952.2m to funding heritage and arts in 2007-08. The state and territory governments expended the majority of their funds on Heritage with $2,266.3m (76.8%) of their total cultural funding in this area. Arts activities received $685.8m or 23.2% of the total cultural funding by the state and territory governments.

Across all categories, the largest recipient of state and territory government funding was Environmental heritage which received $1,345.4m, accounting for 45.6% of the total state and territory cultural funding.

The highest proportion of total heritage funding allocated to Environmental heritage was in Western Australia (67.4%), followed by Queensland (65.3%), Victoria (61.2%) and South Australia (59.9%).

Other major recipients of state and territory cultural funding included Other museums and cultural heritage ($365.0m), Libraries ($317.6m), Performing arts venues ($235.2m) and Art museums ($178.2m). Of the states and territories, Tasmania had the highest proportion of cultural funding allocated to Heritage activities (90.0%) followed by the Northern Territory (88.7%). For total arts activities, Victoria had the highest proportion of total cultural funding (31.2%) followed closely by South Australia (30.5%).
State and Territory Government Cultural Funding
 By Value of Funding - 2007-08


In 2007-08, local government funding for cultural activities was $1000.3m, which was 15.8% of total cultural funding provided by all levels of government. This was an increase of $74.6m or 8.1% on 2006-07 when local government funding for cultural activities was $925.7m.

A majority of local government cultural funding (65.3%) was allocated to Libraries in 2007-08 ($653.4m). This was also the case in 2006-07 ($626.7m or 67.7%). Most public libraries are funded at the local government level, except in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory where libraries are mainly or solely funded by the state and territory governments. For 2007-08, South Australia had the highest proportion of local government funding for libraries (75.0%), followed by New South Wales (74.4%), Western Australia (67.6%), Victoria (59.8%) and Queensland (58.6%).
 Funding Per Person

The amount of funding provided per person is calculated by dividing the amount of funding by the number of people in the relevant population. Per person cultural funding provided by all levels of government was $297.17 in 2007-08. The Australian Government per person contribution to cultural funding was $111.07 while the state and territory governments' contribution was $139.01 per person. Local government cultural funding was $47.10 per person in 2007-08.

State and Territory Government Cultural Funding

By $ Per Person - 2007-08


From the Australian Bureau of Statistics website via The Source

Friday 11 September 2009

V&A London - new online collection interface - beta

V&A London
The V&A, London, have quietly launched a beta version of their new collection interface, here. It's a lovely piece of work. It was scoped and built by the V&A web team under the leadership of Gail Durbin, and her technical lead, Richard Morgan, [RMorg] , external design/IA , Other Media, UK.

I was given a preview of this work on Tuesday, the day before I flew out from London back to Auckland. I was so impressed both by the scale of the offer [over a million records now searchable, as opposed to the previous 50,000] the interface design, and their plans for extension and collboration.

The API 
Part of the latter includes making available an API for third party collaboration. I understand this is still under development, so if you are interested in that side of things, best talk to them direct.
In the meantime feel free to go and play, here.

Please note - this is a beta effort - so things might change without warning - and that includes the URL -  so let's just be a little patient. In the meantime, I'm sure the odd note of congratulation won't go amiss. Try here. This is a big effort- and it shows.

Transit through LAX and the jet lag thing
I am just back from London, via LA, from London. Great trip from Air New Zealand - but less than impressed with the transit arrangements currently in place at LAX. Makes no sense at all -  transit passengers are held back in a corridor while everyone else leaves the aircraft,  then you have to get in line to be processed by the same immigration people who have just done the first lot!

Once you are processed - and given a three month entry visa which you don't want or need - you are taken back up the same corridor into a waiting room which you must have passed on the way down to immigration.  Very strange experience - especially with jet lag.

Currently starting to feel the onset of that strange interlude of supposed clarity which you know means you are going to flake out any minute - so over and out for now!

Monday 7 September 2009

The relationship between public libraries and Google: Too much information by Vivienne Waller, First Monday

Given this week's impending judgment by Judge Denny Chin on the Google class action case, see Guardian piece, here,  I thought this article, just out, from First Monday might be interesting.

'This article explores the implications of a shift from public to private provision of information through focusing on the relationship between Google and public libraries. This relationship has sparked controversy, with concerns expressed about the integrity of search results, the Google Book project, and Google the company.

In this paper, these concerns are treated as symptoms of a deeper divide, the fundamentally different conceptions of information that underpin the stated aim of Google and libraries to provide access to information.

The paper concludes with some principles necessary for the survival of public libraries and their contribution to a robust democracy in a rapidly expanding Googleverse...'

Currently traveling in the UK - so posts might be a little erratic depending on schedule, bandwidth, and the state of the British people

First Monday

Thursday 3 September 2009

DanceMob09- London South Bank

Currently traveling in the UK - so posts might be a little erratic depending on schedule, bandwidth, and the state of the British people

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Hunterian Gallery and Edvard Munch

Hunterian Art Museum
By serendipity I came across the online home of The Hunterian Art Museum from the University of Glasgow. It was a lovely find. Glasgow has some wonderful art galleries, including the recently reopened Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum  which I used to haunt when I visited my Auntie Mina and Uncle Bill in Partick as a callow yoof

The Munch Print exhibition
The Hunterian is of course famous for Mackintosh House.  But they also have other calls on your attention if wanted to give it the click. The Munch exhibition is over - but there is a nice little online archive of what was on view, here. 

I always had a lot of sympathy for Mr Munch. Saw a lot of his works in an exhibition in Melbourne a few years ago. Total stunner.

The Hunterian has this to say:

"Munch started making prints only once he had matured as a painter. Attracted by the bigger audiences of central Europe, he lived 1893 – 1909 in Berlin, where his first etchings were made from a desperate need to publicise his paintings. In 1896 he travelled to Paris to make lithographs and his first woodcuts.

By 1904, prints provided Munch with the means to make a living and, crucially, they could be exhibited in many places, spreading knowledge of his work. He was an artist who continually pondered and revised his images, and the prints are frequently the most powerful versions of his subjects.
After a nervous breakdown in 1908, Munch returned permanently to Norway but contributed to European exhibitions, most notably the Cologne Sonderbund show of 1912, in which he was hailed (alongside Van Gogh and Gauguin) as one of the founders of Expressionism.

Munch’s greatest prints were made in the period 1895-1905, but the artist continued painting and making prints until his death in 1944.

The exhibition includes examples of the best work from all periods, including the impressive large woodcut The Girls on the Bridge of 1918, which shows the pier in the village of Åsgårdstrand where the artist retreated each summer to paint.

Prints enabled Munch to exhibit widely and helped to spread his influence throughout Europe. He left his own huge collection to the city of Oslo, and the works on exhibition are borrowed from the Munch Museum there."

Currently traveling in the UK - so posts might be a little erratic depending on schedule, bandwidth, and the state of the British people

Tuesday 1 September 2009

10:10 - cut personal carbon emissions by 10% by 2010

 Photograph: Linda Nylind

In a groundbreaking partnership between media, political activism and the collection sector, the 10:10 climate change campaign has a public launch at London's Tate Modern from 4pm to 7pm this afternoon in what they hope will be 'an historic moment in the battle against climate change'.

The 10:10 campaing
10:10,  is a campaign to get individuals and organisations to reduce their emissions by 10% by  2010 
The organisers recognise it ia an ambitious target but reckon they can get every sector of British society behind one simple idea: ' that by working together we can achieve a 10% cut in the UK’s carbon emissions in 2010' 

On the 10: 10 web site there is a lot more on the peole involved - and how it can be picked up by families - schools and businesses. You can also sign up on line, here.

Sounds like a plan to me - maybe there is something similar in Australasia - if not - perhaps there should be, and if so -  maybe this could be a joint museum/gallery thing - especailly from those museums with lots of expertise on climate change et al?

Posting this on the train  - Flying Scotsmen no less - to Edinburgh - looking forward to seeing the home town! And yes there is free wifi!