Here is a message from Seb Chan of Australia’s Powerhouse Museum. He and his team are really very talented and doing interesting work, building on previous work with tagging and Open Search:
Down here at the Powerhouse Museum we have just switched on an implementation of Reuters’ OpenCalais service on our OPAC/collection database.
This allows for auto-tagging of content into a variety of categories.
I’ve blogged about it over at Fresh & New (http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/dmsblog/index.php/2008/03/31/opac20-opencalais-meets-our-museum-collection-auto-tagging-and-semantic-parsing-of-collection-data/).
Whilst there are some immediate problems with the way some phrases are picked up by the parsing, the overall result is incredibly positive and powerful, extracting significant extra value from collection records. We are now able to extract people, place, companies and much more from plain text and auto-create structured metadata to enhance search and discovery.
For those interested in a real-world museum example of the potential of the ‘semantic web’ this may be of particular interest . . . .
Also news from Seb via Facebook: Powerhouse has uploaded some of its photographs, inviting public tags & comments, to Flickr Commons
…and seconds after I blogged that update, Seb sent this email:
“Yes, you read that right. The Powerhouse Museum is the first museum to join the Commons on Flickr! And we’re excited because it went live today!
In the tradition of ‘slow food’ we have decided to do a slow release of content with an initial 200 historic images of Sydney and surrounds available through the Commons on Flickr and a promise of another 50 new fresh images each week! These initial images are drawn from the Tyrrell Collection. Representing some of the most significant examples of early Australian photography, the Tyrrell Collection is a series of glass plate negatives by Charles Kerry (1857-1928) and Henry King (1855-1923), two of Sydney’s principal photographic studios at the time.
We have also done something a little different to the Library of Congress – we have also started geo-tagging as many of the images we are uploading as possible. You can jump over to Flickr and see the images plotted on a map, then zoom in to browse and navigate. We are really excited by the possibilities that this opens up – suddenly ‘then and now’ photography becomes possible on a mass public scale . . . amongst many other things.”
I’ve just submitted this response to the DEMOS Culture and Learning consultation paper. My response emphasises the need to promote a learner-centred ethos in cultural organisations, but it says a lot more too, so please read it: http://www.box.net/shared/9l6ygxaqss
I would summarise it in more detail, but it is 3.22 in the morning.
Update on 1st May:
If you want to read another response, from David Jennings, much better structured than my own: http://alchemi.co.uk/archives/ele/culture_and_lea.html
I have also heard that the National Museum Director’s Conference are undertaking a separate study into the role and status of learning in museums and galleries.
I’m excited to be going to the award ceremony this year. I think I must have been invited because of the campaign to save the Livesey Museum for Children (about which see the main campaign website http://liveseyfriends.wordpress.com/ ) This award is really worthwhile and, I’m sure, has really been instrumental in encouraging a lot of family friendly museums to gear up their provision and less family friendly ones looking harder at how they can become more so. I like the idea expressed in this award that family friendliness isn’t just about catering for little ones, but that it is about acknowledging how informal learning in museums and galleries takes place in social interactions between people of different ages and experiences, each gaining something different from encounters with extraordinary objects and places.
Here’s the official news about the award:
GUARDIAN FAMILY FRIENDLY MUSEUM AWARD SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED – AND NOT A DINOSAUR BONE IN SIGHT!The shortlist for the 2008 Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award is announced in the Arts pages of the Guardian newspaper today, Wednesday 26th March. And there’s hardly a dinosaur bone or Egyptian mummy to be seen!The five-strong shortlist – Dulwich Picture Gallery (London), Manchester Art Gallery, Shetland Museum, Weston Park Museum (Sheffield) and Wolverhampton Art Gallery – all have collections which don’t immediately lend themselves to being family-friendly. How do you make 17th century old masters appealing to toddlers? What can a teenager take away from a glass cabinet of 18th century silverware? These pioneering, innovative museums take on these challenges, transforming their collections so they’re exciting to everyone, of every age.‘It’s fabulous that there’s hardly a dinosaur bone to be seen at any of the shortlist,’ says Dea Birkett, Director of Kids in Museums. ‘To be family friendly no longer means having to have plastic Viking helmets for kids to dress up in or rows of Egyptian mummies. We’ve made too many presumptions in the past about what kids like. They can appreciate fine art as well as finger painting.’‘And thankfully, museums are also recognising that families are of all ages – not just made up of kids. It’s no good having an exhibition which enthrals two year olds but which bores their parent’s pants off. It has to be layered so that everyone has a good time and says, “Wow! I didn’t realise that.”’The shortlisted museums will now be visited by families, unannounced, who will road-test them against the Kids in Museums Manifesto. The winner will be announced in the Guardian on Thursday 1 May.Visit http://www.kidsinmuseums.org.uk/
Updated post: Here is my response http://www.box.net/shared/9l6ygxaqss
I intend to write a response to this report launched earlier this week. It is very important, although I feel it is less articulate, analytical and focused than it could be. I hope that the consultation process will provide the contributions to sharpen it up and give it teeth. Here is the press release from the main initiator, the Clore Duffield Foundation:
DEMOS LAUNCHES CONSULTATION ON NEW AGENDA FOR CULTURAL EDUCATION
In the context of recent government announcements about cultural education, Demos has challenged cultural professionals and educationalists to provide a new and coherent direction for cultural education. Culture and Learning: Towards a New Agenda, a consultation paper written by John Holden, has been published to invite debate and responses.
Cultural organisations, the education sector and the wider public are asked for their views on:
How to embed cultural learning more firmly in the education and learning sectors and in cultural organisations
How to identify the most effective leaders to drive improvement in cultural learning
How to develop a set of shared standards, and a definition of excellence relating to cultural learning
How to improve the profile, scale and effectiveness of cultural learning
The consultation will identify changes relevant to directors, trustees and practitioners in the cultural sector, teachers, policymakers, local authorities, government and cultural and educational agencies. The paper asks how the profile, scale and effectiveness of cultural learning can be improved. The main topics in the report relate to shared standards of excellence, entitlement, impact assessment, leadership and brokerage and networks.
Culture and Learning: Towards a New Agenda was commissioned by a consortium of funding agencies, ranging from grant-giving foundations to public bodies*. The investigation builds on and examines some of the aspirations in the McMaster Review, Supporting Excellence in the Arts, and the government’s recently published Children’s Plan. A series of invitation-only regional consultation events will take place during the consultation phase, hosted by a range of cultural venues.
The author, John Holden, commented. “Although there have been many positive developments and initiatives in both the cultural and education sectors, fundamental problems remain, with learners encountering widely differing experiences. Shared standards of excellence need to be developed”.
Comments on Culture and Learning: Towards a New Agenda (downloadable at http://www.demos.co.uk/ and at http://www.cloreduffield.org.uk) are invited by 30 April 2008. A background Context Paper is also available from the same sites.
* The project is funded by a consortium of funding partners:
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Clore Duffield Foundation
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Heritage Lottery Fund
Northern Rock Foundation
Paul Hamlyn Foundation