Thursday 29 November 2007

tagging images, and museums

I've just come across a short but sweet article about the use of image tagging in memory institutes, with links to interesting projects, in the New York Times. Worth a peek.
Museums have recognized that their online collections are not doing the job — we’re hiding the content away from nonspecialists,” said Jennifer Trant, a partner at Archives and Museum Informatics in Toronto. “We’ve got to provide access on the same level as visual memory.”

Now, after spending millions of dollars and years of effort on their virtual homes — which draw many more visitors than their physical ones — museums are rethinking their online collections. They are experimenting with one of the hottest Web 2.0 trends: tagging, the basis for popular sites like In social tagging, users of a service provide the tags, or labels, that describe the content (of photos, Web links, art), thus creating a user-generated taxonomy, or folksonomy, as it’s called.


There are a lot of images out there on the 'net these days. Some good, some bad, some family snapshots, some really artistic creations. It can be hard to sort through the dross and find the good ones.

For a few years, flickr has been tagging some photos as interesting, calculated in a variety of ways including
Where the clickthroughs are coming from; who comments on it and when; who marks it as a favorite; its tags and many more things which are constantly changing. Interestingness changes over time, as more and more fantastic photos and stories are added to Flickr.

The most interesting photos from the last 7 days are up in a seperate section, which changes on every load.

But those are just photos selected from the millions uploaded every... day? to flickr now. An alternative venue to view beautiful, arresting, or just plain interesting digital material can be found at an image bookmarking site that allows the blogosphere to pull together all that is best in interverse imagery. It changes from minute to minute. A great place to view, wonder, and explore.

Monday 26 November 2007

where go the tomes

Great article from the Saturday Guardian about the new storage facilities being built by the big copyright libraries for all the stuff which is seldom requested - and how digitisation isnt the solution.
We remove a box, designed to repel acid (paperback books need to be kept this way if their shelf life is to consist of more than a few years). Inside, we find not only a marvellous new book about the Port of Ayr, but also a book called Momentum In Football, featuring a foreword by Sven-Göran Eriksson. Wouldn't it be great if you could just sell this stuff on eBay or recycle it sensibly? Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could digitise such books and pulp the hard copy? Think of all the shelf space you'd save.

"Trust me, it isn't as simple as that," Peter Fox [librarian of Cambridge University Library] replies. [link]

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Fun with the live web

Interesting teaching session yesterday - taught by my PhD student, Rudolf, for Internet Technologies, about the dynamic/live web. Most of the stuff we teach is based around the static model of web publishing, but its important to show students how the live on-the-fly web works too - and they have the opportunity to do further programming in the next term if they want to follow it up.

In the lab, everyone was blogging away like pros, and Rudolf got them to tag the entries with the course code, so they were easily visible to all. I wonder how many students will keep up their blogging habit now they have been shown how easy it is?

Do Not Want

The new digital book reader from amazon, called Kindle.

A subscription to the New York Times costs $13.99 per month on Kindle. A popular blog, such as BoingBoing will cost $1.99 per month for Kindle owners.

Owners sending files they already own to their Kindle will incur a ten cent charge.

Uhuh? And its super fugly.

And you probably cant take it into the bath/read it on a plane when you are taxiing/chuck it in your handbag when commuting and not fret about pickpockets.

Interesting how makes a big song and dance about it - but its nowhere to be seen on

Monday 19 November 2007

Early Computers

Sometimes, buried under the avalanche of pop culture and political news, the BBC news website comes up with little gems of videos which are worth checking out.

Here is a video in which Jeffrey Katz from California's Computer History Museum takes a tour of computers through the decades - such as the Eniac, early punchcards, early IBM computers, etc. Worth 5 mins of your internet addicted time.


Just 5 more minutes pleeeeeeeeeeeeease

Interesting article in the NY times about a boot camp in Korea to cure obsession with the web.
But these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly addiction: cyberspace.

They come here, to the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, the first camp of its kind in South Korea and possibly the world, to be cured.


Tuesday 13 November 2007

Multi-lingual image searching

I'm a sucker for google image search, and searching tags on flickr. Its very handy for illustrating lectures (although I do credit images and just try to use those in the public domain, naturally). However, I've been aware for a while that I was only searching the English web - which is rapidly becoming a less significant place to start looking.

Pan Images is a prototype image searcher which uses automatic query translation to search both flickr and google, returning searches in hundreds of different languages including Dutch, Hindi, Polish, Russian.... etc etc etc. The web is much bigger again. My lectures are full of interesting slides. Peace is restored to the Kingdom.

Monday 12 November 2007

VERA is still passive

Do you remember this post about a great passive aggressive note found at the Silchester dig, which someone submitted to passive aggressive

Well, today, we made it into the Guardian. The print copy also contains the photo.

Evidence for this unlikely renaissance is readily available at, an online clearing house that allows sarky notes from employers, flatmates, landlords and strangers to be posted anonymously so that all the world can speculate about the wellsprings of pent-up anger motivating their various authors. "Ben - I have a concern about the removal of your futon," begins one effort, sent in by Ben, who found it stuck to his futon when he went to remove it.Other examples of the genre include one from an archaeological site in Silchester, Hampshire ("Missing: 33 pencils, 39 erasers. Search your pockets, search your tent, search your conscience"),

Friday 2 November 2007

TEI@20 meeting

I'm washington at the moment, in the TEI@20 conference. Actually, I'm writing this at the back of the lecture room, with one ear cocked to a panel session about funding for digital humanities.

I gave a plenary paper this morning about TEI by Example, which I think went down ok (phew).

One of the things which came out of the comments and questions is the importance of producing introductory materials which show *why* you would bother with this whole TEI markup malarky - getting across a few examples not only of markup but of what you can do once you have marked something up. For those learning TEI, grasping this can really suck people in. My students eye's light up when the penny drops about *why* you go to all this bother, and see the type of transformations and analysis that TEI encoding affords.

Which is something we at TEI by Example must address. hmmmm.

anonymity on the net

Interesting comments by Ben Macintyre, from the Times.
Anonymity is also one of the defining features of public discourse in the internet age: of the millions of people posting comments on blogs, discussion boards and in other forums, most choose not to identify themselves, but prefer to opinionate under a pseudonym. The cloak of privacy is what gives much internet discussion its raw energy, with a great cacophony of unidentifiable voices competing on equal terms. But unnamed writing is also responsible for some of the worst internet vices: intemperate “flaming” of opponents, bullying, dishonesty and a general coarsening of language and incivility. Not to mention self-congratulation and score-settling.


Thursday 1 November 2007

Man Hole Covers

Continuing the random series of Everyday Ephemera Digitized And Put on the Internet - see a collection of manhole covers from Japan. Just beautiful.

Everything looks better when its in a collection, no?

[link courtesy of pink tentacle - their post has many more links to image collections of manhole covers]