Books are best

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday - from technology back to books

The case studies session on Saturday focused on Open Source software. Projects included the NMAI elaborate intranet, built using Mediwiki. It was pretty impressive; it had many similarities to Fletcher, but had a calendar feature that might be something for us to consider. Collections Space is another open source technology that was addressed. The highlight of all these presentation was the Omeka one, by Sharon and Sheila from CHNM. It was good to see the new version of Omeka, and their explanation of how different aspects of the system are meant to work was quite helpful. We also talked about the difference between Omeka and Drupal, which I found this especially helpful. The whole presentation made me want to work with Omeka,using a renewed focus. Sheila and Sharon are interested in either coming out to visit us or at least having a conference call in the future, after we have some time to play with the new version and get some more experience, hone our questions, etc. We concluded this very pleasant discussion agreeing to touch base after the new year. Obviously, I am happy to talk about this particular session in much greater detail.

My last session was Capturing the Past for the Future. Some very new technologies (most in R&D) were presented, and then the session brainstormed on how these could possibly be used by cultural heritage institutions. Considering what may come next was a good way to end the conference. Watch this for an example of my favorite potential future technology.

It was a good conference and a good experience; after it was over I went to the Library of
Congress and looked at some books.

Actually Friday

I've fallen down on my blogging job; sorry about that. I hate to think of you all out there waiting with baited breath. Things got busy,I started meeting people and used coffee breaks for networking rather than blogging.

Friday morning sessions were case studies around topic of using technology to highlight collections in a variety of organizations. How appropriate! Presenters included Kansas University Special Collections, the Virtual Museum of Canada, MoMA, National Museum of the American Indian,, and a couple European portal sites spanning museums and in fact countries. It was interesting to see how these were designed and what they highlighted. The most interesting to me were the MoMA and NMAI presentation, since they focused on getting their CMS online and usable to the public. NMAI is of particular interest, as they also use Kemu for their CMS. The web site was eventually built by Mediatrope; it looks very nice, but was apparently a challenge.(This will go live in February 2009.)

The presentation on ImageMuse was not particularly helpful to me; the majority of the time was spent on how to achieve true colors from digital images. It was more geared toward art museums and photographers rather than me. But the second half about Updig (universal photographic digital image guidelines) had some interesting and useful suggestions regarding digital photos for a variety of uses; I look forward to spending more time on their site and reviewing their principles.

The session on Funding Organizations and Museum Technologies was enlightening, and seemed hopeful. I realize, of course, that actually getting grants is no picnic, but all the grant officers were encouraging and offered information on what they are interested in and how to go about pursuing grants. Representative from Mellon, NEH (Joel Wurl!), NSF, and IMLS spoke. The NSF one was particularly interesting; they have a ton of money, and have a very expansive definition of science; technology and education projects are of particular interest. Something perhaps to think about.

The reception for the conference Friday night at the Corcoran was great fun. We got to see the Avedon exhibit, and there was good food and an open bar. I met some new people, learned about some interesting projects, and got to talk about some of ours.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


The next session I attended was titled Innovative Applications, Innovative Evaluations. Presenters from the Getty and Ontario Science Center talked about their recent Web 2.0 projects. The Getty's was a project for kids in a social network environment (run by a third party) involving games and an opportunity for participants to look at art. The evaluations on this project were iffy; they wanted and tried to quantify number of visits back to the Getty main site, yet these tangible statistic were not reliable enough. They hosted web chats and interview sessions with the kids in the environment, which was anecdotally valuable and rewarding but not measurable. What they came away with was an understanding that measures need to identified before a project begins. The Ontario Science Center is very involved in You Tube and the community of “tubers;” they hosted a “meet up” of this community, making the virtual community actual. This is a novel idea and the numbers were measurable, but the value back to the museum is questionable.

The afternoon session included one on the semantic web, and how the Met is in the midst of a project to implement it. I definitely have a clearer understanding of what it is and what it can do now, along with a list of suggested resources.
The last session of the day was titled Digital Curation; it did not turn out to be what I thought. I thought it would be about projects, but it turned out to be a big call for a specific type of graduate degree. It was the only session so far I have been really disappointed in.

For fun:
I went to the National Archives during lunch today.
Keith Pille (remember him?) is here. Along with John from MIA.
I met some friends at Old Ebbitt's Grill across from the White House for dinner. It was full of wonks and totally fun.

Art and dashboards

The tour of open (visible) storage yesterday at the Luce Foundation Center at the American Art was pretty amazing. The objects (including sculpture, paintings, and folk art) are behind plexi allowing for all conservation issues such climate and light control to be addressed. Since it is storage, not an exhibit, labels are kept to a minimum; most have only artist, title, accession number, and occasionally year. Computer terminals are scattered throughout the area, allowing for people to look up specific artworks using the accession number to get more information. Visitors can create a scrapbook of works of interest and email it to themselves. Our tour guide noted that visitors seem to like the behind-the-scenes sort of feel, as well as providing study opportunities.

This morning's session consisted of people for several different organizations discussing recent digital projects. Some were gallery specific uses of technology, which were interesting in design but not of particular interest for our purposes. The one I found most interesting and of possible use for us is the creation of a Dashboard by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I'll share more about these presentation later.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday - Conference Day One

This morning I attend a workshop on the content management system Drupal. It was a very interesting session. Drupal is an open source system, somewhat similar to Omeka, but seems to be farther along in its development. Quite an array of plug-ins have been written for this, and the examples of online exhibits we looked at this morning looked cool, worked well, and seem manageable. See an example here: To Live Forever
I had a follow-up conversation with a fellow attendee (from NY Public Library) who has had experience with both Omeka and Drupal; his thoughts about it were that Omeka is great for small organizations or specific projects, but that Drupal many be a better fit for more elaborate undertakings. It seems to me that it might be worth investigating both systems further.
Now I'm off to join an open storage tour at the Luce Foundation Center at the Museum of American Art; more later.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Trial run

So,once again it has been forever since I've posted. I am heading off to a conference in lovely DC next week,and thought perhaps I should keep up a blog while i'm there to share what I am learning,shortly after I learn it. Today's test is to:
1. introduce this project
2.make sure my blog still works
3.see how annoying using this tiny keyboard on the Asus is. answer to that: very annoying. maybe i can learn to push the space bar much, much harder.
check back to see what i (and you too!) can learn from my experience and the Museum Network Conference!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Campaign songs

Follow this is hi-larious...the good, the bad, and the what were they thinking??

Could I get this job? Picking music for campaigns?
Obama's song should be These Days by R.E.M.
McCain can use Electioneering by Radiohead.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

To the rescue!

Is this one of those pictures every parent waits for? I suspect so...and it's a good one.

A baby party

Ella has decided that outside swinging is fun. It is fun for me too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Dunlap Broadside

Okay, so it's not...but it sure was fun having this copy of the Declaration of Independence around. This photo was taken by Tom Crann, host of All Things Considered on MPR. He interviewed me about this particular document, about which I learned a great deal...feel free to ask. But be forewarned, I can talk a lot. And yes, I admit to a bit of separation anxiety.