Unintentional (?) Friday funny

It’s a long time since I had one of these. I can go on blaming uni assessments and work, but it gets boring.

I assume it’s not intentional, but this Guardian article A world of screens and plastic has fed a cultish craving for relics of the past is hilarious, and beautifully quotable. As Linda Spurdle tweeted: ‘I missed this training day! “Museum staff are trained to behave as acolytes to their objects..” prob stuck on H & S day‘.

On the BBC/BM ‘A History of the World’: “Since this is radio, we are not allowed to see the objects, thus enhancing the status of their custodian as interceding priest. … Authenticity is essential and there must be no copies or representations – in ­MacGregor’s case not so much as a ­picture.” Well, you could look online.

And if is to be true “[i]t does not matter if no one ever sees the shard. Most museum objects are seen only by their guardians, albeit financed by tithes from taxpayers”, we’d probably better hide the 230,000 Science Museum, National Railway Museum and National Media Museum objects online. On the other hand, I do like a good ‘museum as church’ argument, cos if it was true the office wouldn’t have bundles of excited kids on the other side of the door and it might be be quieter.

On a more serious note, whenever I come across articles like this it reminds me how far we have to go in helping people realise exactly how accessible, enjoyable, potentially challenging and just plain interesting our (your, their) museums are.

Scripting enabled – accessibility mashup event and random Friday link

Scripting Enabled, “a two day conference and workshop aimed at making the web a more accessible place”, is an absolutely brilliant idea, and since it looks like it’ll be on September 19 and 20, the weekend after BathCamp, I’m going to do my best to make it down. (It’s the weekend before I start my Masters in HCI so it’s the perfect way to set the tone for the next two years).

From the site:

The aim of the conference is to break down the barriers between disabled users and the social web as much as giving ethical hackers real world issues to solve. We talked about improving the accessibility of the web for a long time – let’s not wait, let’s make it happen.

A lot of companies have data and APIs available for mashups – let’s use these to remove barriers rather than creating another nice visualization.

And on a random Friday night, this is a fascinating post on Facial Recognition in Digital Photo Collections: “Polar Rose, a Firefox toolbar that does facial recognition on photos loaded in your browser.”

Get your (cultural heritage) geek on

The details for two events you might be interested in have been finalised.

The program for UK Museums on the Web Conference 2008 has been announced. It’s a great line-up, so I’ll see you there if you can get to the University of Leicester for 19 June 2008.

And the date and venue for BathCamp have been confirmed as Saturday 13th – Sunday 14th September 2008 at the Invention Studios in Bath. More information at that blog link, or my previous post: Calling geeks in the UK with an interest in cultural heritage content/audiences.

And I’ve been hassled by my legion of fans to point out that you can nominate me in the Programming and development blogs: ComputerWeekly.com IT Blog Awards 08 (and you might win a £50 Amazon voucher). There’s a lovely badge but I can’t quite bring myself to use it, I’ve only just gotten used to the idea that anyone apart from three or four people I know read this blog. Anyway, there you go.

And if all that’s too much excitement for you, go read about the lamest Wikipedia edit wars ever.

Introducing new technologies…

Shamefully, I can’t remember which blog originally pointed me to this Mitchell and Webb clip on a Bronze Age Orientation day.

[Update: it was in the comments on Archaeoastronomy. I found this via Middle Savagery, which has two great posts with videos from ‘Personal Histories in Archaeological Theory and Method’ presentations, which I will watch when I get back from Montreal. Thanks Alun, Colleen and Mark.]

I’m in Montreal for Museums and the Web 2008 next week. I’ll take notes as I go but I’m not sure whether I’ll get a chance to blog. See some of you there!

Some random links…

Two very handy resources when choosing forum software: opensourcecms.com lets you try out various installations – you can create test forums and play with the settings and forummatrix.org helps you compares applications on a variety of facets, and there’s a wizard to help you narrow the choices.

Andy Powell makes the excellent point that social software-style tags function as virtual venues:

if you are holding an event, or thinking about holding an event… decide what tag you are going to use as soon as possible. … In fact, in a sense, the tag becomes the virtual venue for the event’s digital legacy.

In other news, Intel get into Mashups for the Masses – “an extension to your existing web browser that allows you to easily augment the page that you are currently browsing with information from other websites. As you browse the web, the Mash Maker toolbar suggests Mashups that it can apply to the current page in order to make it more useful for you” and the BBC reports on Metaplace, a “free tool that allows anyone to create a [3D] virtual world” and incorporates lots of social web tools.

File under ‘fabulous resources that I doubt I’ll ever get time to read properly’: the Journal of Universal Computer Science, D-Lib Magazine (‘digital library research and development, including but not limited to new technologies, applications, and contextual social and economic issues’) and transcripts from the Research Library in the 21st Century symposium.

On the other hand, Introduction to Abject-Oriented Programming is a very quick read, and laugh-out-loud funny (if you’re a tragic geek like me).