About Me

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Web person at the Imperial War Museum, just completed PhD about digital sustainability in museums (the original motivation for this blog was as my research diary). Posting occasionally, and usually museum tech stuff but prone to stray. I welcome comments if you want to take anything further. These are my opinions and should not be attributed to my employer or anyone else (unless they thought of them too). Twitter: @jottevanger

Monday, April 30, 2007

Convergence of metaverse modelling tools

Obviously SL isn't the only player in town but it is nevertheless significant that it is moving towards making it possible to import and export from other environments: modelling tools like 3D Max or other virtual worlds.
3pointD.com: Second Life Build Tools Support More Formats
Not that I need to spell it out, but if this is the start of a pattern then we will see greater incentives and lower risks to museums (and everyone else) to invest in Second Life, or more fundamentally in virtual objects that might be used in such environments, and corresponding improvements in sustainability.s
And why do I ALWAYS insert an unnecessary "e" in "environment"?

Somehow the API will make you pay for the honey

Nat Torkington on Six Basic Truths of Free APIs. Ties in well with my Paper 2, especially around the ecology of applications that API providers need to develop value for themselves - if this fails then they will have no incentive to support or develop the API. We have seen Google, for example, shifting the ground from under the feet of developers, and frankly it's a case of buyer beware (well, "freeloader beware" sounds a bit too judgemental). Brian Kelly's work on risk assessment is right in this area.

Friday, April 27, 2007


3 point D points us to the new Open Source Museum of Open Source Art in Second Life. Lots of fun! Interesting to see that they are talking about documenting and archiving this thing, and of course there are relevant issues relating to authority, reality, value, fun, impact, education, mission and, indeed, whether it's all that museum-like at all. They do frame the background article in museological terms, it will be as interesting to see how the debate progresses as the museum itself.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Jeremy Keith on Identity and authority

Funny where stuff turns up. Jeremy Keith often has interesting things to say but I would not necessarily have expected him to talk about something that so directly hits a museological button - until, that is, I thought about it. After all, everything I've been writing for the last year has been observing and depending upon this sort of connection between disparate areas. So, Adactio talks about the problem of authority in the fragmented, distributed environment and I find I can use it almost without translation in the discussion I'm working on about museum authority and the impact of the web
Adactio: Identity and authority

The apps that just went online can now go...offline again

Brady Forrest wrote Dojo Offline Toolkit Released. There will presumably be a flood of taking-web-apps-offline technology in due course, once more changing the nature of the online/offline dynamic

Monday, April 23, 2007

Virtually altered state

Nicholas Carr's posting Go ask Alice's avatar
Those wild and crazy guys!
This is one for the reality/VR/authenticity file.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Salad Bowl alpha

A couple of weeks ago I put the Salad Bowl thing on to the MoL server here: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museumObjects/index.aspx. Since access to this blog is, as from today, unrestricted I guess I need to explain this a little bit. I have imagined the stub of a museum object microformat (really the stub at the moment, hardly any of the data structure is really sorted, and I may drop it in favour of work-of-art anyway). Core parts of m-objects include identification with an institution, a URI and a unique identifier for the item (plus a name). To do something with data in this form (which I have enabled on a few of our catalogue driven sites like London's Burning and Exploring 20th Century London) there is a bookmarklet which highlights objects and lets you submit them to an application where your collection of objects is held - the Salad Bowl.
Right now it needs a log-in to see even the intro, which I should change. Anyway, the thing is full of bugs but essentially the bookmarklets work (on Mozilla and IE) and the new version, which submits data via forms rather than querystring, seems OK (as long as you are logged in BEFORE you submit an object, something else to fix). Once your objects are in there you can tag and describe them but no more at present. Obviously doing something cool with the tags would be best but this is a proof of concept and I'm not going to try to replicate work that could be borrowed from e.g. Steve.museum.
If you are interested in trying out the very alpha application, leave me a comment.

Brian Kelly's thoughts on SWTT and the MW2007 presentation

UK Web Focus: UK Museums and the Semantic Web Thinktank
Brian's input at (especially) the closing meeting was useful; it was helpful in keeping the balance between the various possibilities open to us, and in maintaining the focus on end users. It's nice to see, though, that he has also (like the rest of us) realised that there are more areas where SW may have an impact than we first thought, specifically in terms of intra-and inter-organisational communications of collections data.
My own preoccupation is with ensuring that there is evident reward for anyone that's putting effort into this, so that funders and directors see benefits and so do curators, documentation professionals etc., and it seems plausible that doing relatively simple stuff facing end users is a way to do this, so I'm to some extent in agreement with Brian. Equally, attacking SW from the other side with a more hard-core approach for collections data etc. will have its own benefits, and the two may meet in the middle to the advantage of all.