QRator installation day timelapse

Saturday 12th March saw the installation of loads of iPads into the Grant Museum.  Interestingly we had to do it in partial darkness as the electricity to the building was out. But regardless things went relatively smoothly.  It also gave me the opportunity to make my very first timelapse video! I am very excited about this.  I followed a couple of tutorials from Digital Urban and I managed to turn my iPhone into a timelapse camera using  a free ‘Gorillacam’camera app.  Set to take snaps every 10 seconds.  I set the application running at different locations, because I couldnt actually find a brilliant spot to film from. The output of 1600×1200 jpgs added to Microsfort movie maker and the movie was made really simply, getting it on You Tube was a faff, but here it is.  The Music comes from KtA over on unsigned mp3.

its a bit wonky, but I enjoyed giving it a go… I can see a lot more timelapses appearing on here.

A picture can say a thousand blog posts

I have been incredibly engaged, stressed, overworked, confused, excited, hyper, inpsired, sleepy and clumsy over the last few weeks and I have missed quite a few blog posts.  So I thought I would try and find some appropriate images to visualise some of what I have been up to. So here goes….

Ice and tumbling over in the Lake District

Overwhelmed, excited and inspired by Digital Learning Adventures in Museums

Image taken by the very excellent Benedict Johnson Photography Limited


















buzzing at IgniteLDN4

Art Bollocks (or Stupid Kunst) – by Charlotte Young from chichard41 on Vimeo.

Digital Think Drink at the Petrie Museum

Getting excited about QRator in the Grant Museum

fabulous image from UCL, Grant Museum of Zoology / Matt Clayton

This reminds me that I really want to get creative with a camera. I like taking pictures, but I’m bad at it. For starters I dont have a camera. Perhaps I should fix that.

Ignite London #4 is coming!

We over at Ignite have announced the date and Brand spanking new venue for IgniteLDN4!

It’s very exciting! As part of Global Ignite Week 2011 the fabulous  93 Feet East in Shoreditch will be our venue sponsor for Ignite London 4 on Tuesday 8th February at 7pm.

I love being a part of the Ignite London committee, each event is so vibrant and exciting.  All the speakers are so passionate about their topics, and I always learn something new.    IgniteLDN always gets me thinking about what I would want to say if I had 5minutes. So I reviewed my post about the first ignite London, and I quote “Its kind of rubbish that I don’t actually think I have anything interesting to say. So Ignite, was awesome and a discovered lots of new and very definitely interesting things, but it also pointed out that I have a distinct lack of eclectic interests at the moment. Phooey. Must try harder Claire, must try harder.”

I still feel exactly the same. which is a shame. There are so many things that I am passionate about, but nothing I feel I would be able to enthuse about coherently for 5 minutes.  Perhaps this year will see me discover an eclectic interest which I will be able to jabber on about properly, without looking confused and urming, which is my typical sentence structure.

I am really looking forward to debating about which speakers should make the final selection. We select talks based on whether the topic is interesting, inventive, creative and unique. We also try to select a wide range of topics, so that there isn’t too much overlap in terms of content and subjects that have been covered at previous Ignite London events.  I currently really want a talk be submitted about cake.

Here are some of my favourite previous Ignite London Talks….

The Renaissance Masters and their Mistresses by Ben Hammersley – Ignite London 18 November 2009 from chichard41 on Vimeo.

Diarrhoea & Dodgy Doners: What’s Special About Bacteria by Matthew Baker – Ignite London 18 November 2009 from chichard41 on Vimeo.

2009: The Year In Twirls by James Ward from chichard41 on Vimeo.

The Geek Atlas: Sun, Sea, Sand, Science – by John Graham-Cumming from chichard41 on Vimeo.

IgniteLDN4 are still looking for Speakers so if you have something you would love to talk about for 5 minutes let us know! The deadline for speaker proposals is 6pm on Monday 10th January 2011.  To submit a proposal you can complete the online submission form on the Ignite London Speak page.

brain freeze. social media time out.

I work with all things digital humanities.  My research questions how technology changes the environment around us, physical and digital, and discusses whether those changes are for the better.  We are becoming increasingly digital, it has become a way of life and it is important to understand how and why that is happening.  For the past couple of years I have immersed myself in this digital realm. I’ve blogged, I’ve tweeted, I’ve facebooked, emailed, iphoned, skyped.  I felt connected.

However, recently things have changed. I’ve been neglecting my blog somewhat.  In fact I have also been neglecting Twitter and facebook. I have even been failing to reply to email.  I don’t know what has happened.  Social media is the background to my life. It is how I interact with people at work, my friends, followers, it’s what I research.  It is something which is simply on where ever I am.

It might be on, but recently the information isn’t being received. Have I reached breaking point? Do I have too much information at my fingertips that I’m now at information overload?  Is “real time” communication a double-edged sword? Being constantly accessible by mobile phone, email and twitter – has it made it more difficult for me to think clearly?  Were people right who challenged me about the use of Twitter in academia, it leads to mediocrity because it dulls the senses?

I am enthusiastic about what I do, I love questioning how and whether we can apply technology to our experience of history, heritage and culture.  But how can I do that, when I am now questioning my ability to apply technology to my experience of the day to day.

I don’t seem to find the time to stop and think.  That is what I used to use social media for, specifically here on the blog.  It allowed me to think, to breathe, to question the work that I do, and the places that I visit. I hope it is just a lull.  I have had plenty to talk about. Just lack the time to get all my thoughts down.

In less than a month, I need to rearrange my brain.  Come January I will be starting my PhD where I will be exploring user experience and information seeking behaviour of online museum content.  I am fascinated by the nature of participation and engagement possibilities provided by digital spaces and social media and whether online interactions with cultural content provide engaging experiences for users, supporting inquiry and meaning making. This combines everything I love: museums, digital things and users.  I had hoped I would be able to fully critically reflect on what this means for scholarly debate, shaping digital humanities discourse and the practical implications for cultural heritage institutions.

The whole of November is a blur.  I am trying to finish off all my work projects so I have a clean slate to start my PhD.  It almost like I have been standing still while the world rushes on around me.

London Indoor Time-Lapse from Grzegorz Rogala on Vimeo.

(awesome timelapse I love the Natural History Museum section. But it does visulise how I have been feeling.  time is flowing so fast, and I’m slowly watching it whizz past me)

Time to think and to breathe has been at an all time low.I want to fix this, so what did I do? A mind map of course!

Now that I have leaked everything I had to do on a page, I hope it will be easier for me to deal with. And I can get back to being my old communicative self.

Growing Knowledge exhibition: the final frontier of Library research?

Last night saw UCLDH’s first digital excursion of the new term.  We had an afterhours look at the “Growing Knowledge: The evolution of research” exhibition at the British Library.

The exhibition aims to demonstrate the vision for future digital research services at the British Library.  It is fascinating to see that the BL  is trying to deal with some difficult questions about the future of research, and it was very interesting to be in an exhibition that focuses solely on digital resources and technology and the challenges this poses.  Digital research tools are changing the possibilities of research, extending the boundaries and providing new dynamic ways of interacting with information, it is important that museums, libraries and archives look at how digital resources are changing the way people research and interact with information.  This exhibition attempts to do exactly that.

We had a guided tour of some of the features, including a Microsoft Surface Table containing a digital version of the world’s longest painting, the 19th century Garibaldi Panorama.  4½ feet (1.4 metres) high, painted on both sides and 273 feet (83 metres) long, as you can imagine the painting poses huge challenges for viewing and research in its physical form. Using the virtual version, researchers are able to gather around the surface table, scroll the entire panorama and expand, extract and zoom in on detail.

Another interesting exhibit was the Sony RayModeler a 360 autostereoscopic display. It sort of looks part like a hologram part like a brain in a jar, apart from instead of just a brain, it’s a selection of moving 3D images. The RayModeler uses gesture controls, and the display is motion sensitive, so just by holding your hand near the device or by moving around the exhibit, you can control the movement of the image, spinning it left or right to get a better look.  It is reminiscent of the ‘futuristic’ holograms used in StarWars, in essence it is the ultimate geek toy.

The exhibit which I particularly liked was the Tweet-O-Meter.  Which displays real-time tweeting levels in 9 major cities of the world. It measures the amount of tweets from various locations across the world, updating them every second to give a real time view of Tweets per Minute for each location. I really like the digital version.  But its even better to see the physical version.  They look amazing. Designed as huge ammeters.  I particularly like it as they look very similar to the ammeters that I used to deal with every day at Geevor.

What over rides the technology and the exhibits is the space itself.  Its fascinating.  An all white room, filled with technology; you would imagine being quite a difficult to space.  When you are the only person in the gallery it appears quite small and intimidating, but the more people that are in the space the more appealing it becomes.  It evolves into a comfortable work environment.  Everything from the lighting, the seating and the lightshades (which are beautiful) has been carefully thought baout.  I like the way that it experiments with different interfaces, different placements of workspaces and different technology to show how researchers might work with digital resources in the future. It is also completely different to what you would expect to see in the traditional setting of Library Reading Rooms.  This presents questions about whether or not libraries in their current form are becoming redundant to today’s digital researcher.  A question which the British Library itself is asking: Is the physical library a redundant resource for 21st century academics?

It is a very interesting exhibition, and I will definitely be going back to have another look. Even if it is just to covet the light shades that look like beautiful paper jellyfish.  I think they would look very nice in my office and would lead to a more conducive and comfortable working environment.

The Decline of the British Butterfly

I have a fascination with most things, for as long as I can remember I have been interested in things. All sorts of things. When I was growing up that particularly focused on history, geography, museums of all shapes and sizes and natural history. I used to be able to recite and identify any dinosaur, bird, or constellation put in front of me, my knowledge of these things hasnt remained fully intact but I’m proud of the fact that once knew these kind of things. It’s interesting, now that I work in the digital humanities discipline with its feet firmly planted in both the science and humanities camps, I can see more and more why I fit in here. I was a mishmash of a child fascinated by everything and anything. I tried specialising in pure humanities, but I never felt totally comfortable, and I always enjoyed science, particularly as a little person, but never felt confident of my ability to understand it completely. Now, being able to work in both camps is brilliant, it opens up perspectives to things that I didn’t have the opportunity to consider when I was solely a humanist.

What’s this got to do with the decline of the British butterfly?

One summer, when I was about 10 I think, I became obsessed with butterflies, catching them and identifying them and attempting to understand the patterns on their wings. So I was particularly interested in an article I came across randomly in an old magazine in the local hairdressers. It was an interview with David Bellamy and he was enthusing about butterflies.
I tried to find the article online so I could link to it, but of course it’s in the Times Science Magazine, so the Eureka archive is trapped behind the paywall. Fail.

The article spoke about people’s favouritism of bees over butterflies due to their economic importance, and that everyone is aware of the decline of bees whereas no one is really that bothered about the significant decline of the butterfly. Are bees and butterflies polar opposites; bees are disciplined and industrious whereas butterflies are ‘creatures selected as the types of airiness and frivolity’ as Henry Walter Bates the 19th century naturalist, discoverer of mimicry and all round cool dude stated.

I find naturalists and antiquarians fascinating, because they are so inquisitive and engaged in their subject of choice, and they collect lots and lots of things. Walter Bates felt that butterflies would become one of the most important aspects of biological science, according to this article. This time is now.

In all ecosystems there are some organisms that are more sensitive to change than others: for example at Geevor due to all the mine drainage pollution there is a mosaic of natural and man-made habitats that has led to a colourful post-mining environment. There are a wide variety of weird and wonderful Lichens, which are a brilliant early warning indicator of pollution. But lets be honest if they disappeared normal people wouldn’t be that bothered. But what about the butterflies? What shocked me was that the article highlighted the 97% loss of mature grass meadows since the 1930s, that’s insane, and that has lead to more than three quarters of the 54 butterfly species resident in Britain to have declined in the past 20 years . The Guardian highlights the 12most threatened species.

However all is not lost! Butterfly world is here! The 27 acre site is designed in the shape of a giant butterfly’s head, with a 100m Biome (to be completed in autumn 2011) as its geodesic eye. Its like the Eden project for butterflies and its off the M25! Awesome.

I’m planning a trip to release my inner child naturalist.

Coming back from offline

For nearly three years I have been permantly attached to a computer or the Internet in some description. It became my life source when I was down in Cornwall. I was so far away from the people I loved and cared about, I had never felt so isolated and alone. Stop whining. I worked my little behind off, and spent my time sending emails, blogging, facebooking, tweeting and skyping. My computer broke late one night when I was in a little bed and breakfast in Exeter the night before, ironically, a meeting about mobile elearning, and I was distraught! I never want to go through that again. Despite this mishap the computer has become my trusted allie. I even email whilst I’m at the gym! Or perhaps it has just become a screen for me to hide behind. Who knows. However for the past week I have been offline on holiday in Greece with no wifi. How did I cope!? Surprisingly well. I didn’t try and access my emails once! I didn’t even want to tweet. Now being back in the land of all things digital. I’m finding it really hard to get back into the swing of things. Have I lost my digital mojo?