30 July 2008

The next 5,000 days of the WWW (Kevin Kelly)

I found this to be a very interesting video on the future of the web from Kevin Kelly on ted.com.
Kevin is a publisher, an editor at Wired Magazine and a writer. He is known for his fresh perspectives on technology and its consequences.

For those too busy to watch and listen here is my quick summary.
Kevin begins by throwing up some astounding numbers and statistics about the web that even he admits are too large for us to comprehend. He estimates that now the web matches the processing power and activity of one human brain, but by 2030 it will match six billion human brains (it is doubling every two years) and it will exceed humanity's processing power by 2040.
He postulates three major changes for the future web or its next 5,000 days:
  1. embodiment,
  2. re-structuring, and
  3. co-dependency.


All will be connected through the web and become web-based. Software and phones are already moving to be web-based and soon the same thing will happen for items (eg. "chips with heels and wheels"). There will soon be one media platform and media will be "free" in the sense of restrictions on its use (not necessarily cost). Humans will become extensions of the machine or the one web platform.


He refers to the emergence of the semantic web. The web began with people sharing information on their web pages; then they linked to other web pages; and now we are linking to open data and ideas everywhere. So we will see more of XML; RSS; APIs; RDF; and OWL . All of this will assist in the linking of data from everywhere. Data must be open for it to be shared. It will become an Internet of "things" (physical things).


Here he refers to the total personalisation of the web IF your data is transparent. Google could serve as much of your own memory and Google is moving towards AI. WE are the web and become one "machine".

Kevin says the differences with the web will be that it is:
  • smarter (anticipating more needs);
  • personalised; and
  • ubiquitous (for all devices become portals into it.
He refers to the emergence of ONE large organisation in unity with itself: ONE machine; the web is the operating system; all screens point to ONE; to share is to gain; let ONE read it; and ONE is us.

Even if we don't agree with everything he has to say I think there are a number of very important and strong messages in this talk.

25 July 2008

Encouraging exploration in social media @ work

A friend asked me via Facebook what social media tools we've been encouraging staff to play with at work. (I used to say Web2.0 tools, but have now ceased using that term after reading something on Peta Hopkins Innovate blog .)
We could have gone with anyone of a dozen existing programs ranging from 16-43 "things" but decided to quickly tailor a program to our needs and our endorsed strategic directions for our website. Liz (our Web Manager) and I put it all together in super quick time by collaborating on the one Google Doc. It seems to have attracted enough keen participants and we are happy with the result so far.
So, here are our "ten things" (actually there are nine because thing #1 is an internal thing - applying for extended network access to Firefox browser, Facebook, YouTube, etc.):
  1. iGoogle and a Gmail account (I know Yahoo is another alternative, but to keep it simple we selected Google);
  2. Blogs & blogging (duh);
  3. RSS and feed readers;
  4. social bookmarks (we picked del.icio.us);
  5. sharing presentations (eg. SlideShare);
  6. social networks (Facebook & ArtShare, LinkedIn);
  7. social media "things" (including: Flickr, YouTube & Podcasts);
  8. wikis and Wikipedia.org; &
  9. "other" tools and applications we invited participants to find and explore themselves (Zoho, Google Docs, Open/NeoOffice, CutePDF, Rollyo, LibraryThing, Last.fm).
We've used several CommonCraft videos (which I think are GREAT!) and Wikipedia definitions where available and useful to introduce each "thing" so as not to overload them with too many motherhood statements from us.
To facilitate all of this we are using Ning. It is another social network and we think it has been very helpful in facilitating: forum discussions, user profiles, blog posts, the formation of groups for projects and the hosting of videos. It isn't perfect (yet), but it is almost free (we pay a monthly subscription to get the adverts removed). Hopefully they'll eventually introduce a spell checker and some easy way to export useful discussions. It hasn't been made compulsory, but so far we've managed to get 52 staff involved - almost a fifth of our total staff. The groups we've set up focus on progressing small sub-projects such as Flickr Commons, ArtShare on Facebook, Copyright, our Digitisation Steering Group and Marketing. Just participating in our internal Ning network is itself a learning experience for some people.

Using iPods in the Museum

I heard an interview (online) today with Chris Alexander from the San Jose Museum of Art. They are doing some very cool stuff with iPod Touch devices and a wifi network in their museum. The interview is podcast on the here.
If you don't have the time to listen, these are the main points that I picked up:
  • they are mainly using it for a current exhibition and also to feature the work of some of the artists in their collection who have been filmed at work in their own studios;
  • they have a multi-use approach with delivery of the same material via many platforms using their YouTube channel, RSS, iPods that visitors can check out, a wifi network in the museum and as audio files on their website;
  • they were originally using video iPods in "notes-only" mode, so they were locked down for use specifically in the museum;
  • they are now using iPod Touch devices because they offer a better interface and more possibilities including the upload of user comments (not quite there yet);
  • they deliver all content to visitors via a wifi network or website only available in the museum, so that saves synch-ing or updating 20-30 devices for new or changed content;
  • if you don't have an iPod or iTouch you can check out one of 20 they have now and they will eventually have 30;
  • other US museums experimenting in this space include MoMA (NYC), SFMoMA, Denver, but Chris says a lot of museums are looking at using the same technology;
  • he said the URL for their online iPod content was sjma.mobi but on a computer terminal it comes up as http://www.sjmusart.org/m/#_home;
  • Chris said they go into the artist's studio and film them working, but only one in 30 has declined their suggestion to do this and some of the artists have embedded their YouTube vids on their own sites too; and
  • again he mentioned their intention to use the devices to allow users to upload their own comments about their experience.
I reckon this is a great model for us and many other museums. I'm not sure whether their wifi content will only work on Apple's devices and I think that might be a bit limiting in an Australian setting.
SJMA's home page is here: http://www.sjmusart.org/

18 July 2008

Brilliant, big images!

Have a look at these fantastic images of the drama and spectacle of the Tour de France. They come from the Boston Globe's blog The Big Picture. As a friend of mine said they've been given the prominence they deserve on the web.
Now read this interview on waxy.org with the blog's creator, Alan Taylor. In this interview he explains why he it is important to see these images in (nearly) all their glory. He also talks about the dimensions of the image and how it would not scale up for print resolution that well.
I think we are far too conservative with our images in cultural institutions and we have a lot to learn from this interview. The Big Picture blog has proved to be extremely popular and engaging.

13 July 2008

Thumbs down to iPhone in Oz

The plans are simply unaffordable. We are being ripped off by the carriers. I was going to post about this, but a friend beat me to it with a better post on his blog.
As a fan of Apple (two Mac laptops and three iPods, including a Touch) I am very disappointed that I won't be able to by an Apple iPhone to replace my VERY old Siemens ME45.
Here is the link to Paul's post about iPhones in Oz.

11 July 2008

Where I work

This is just a quick vid from Animoto. I was mucking around with images and music thinking about how museums could perhaps do less interpretation and use more music to create a mood or reflective environment. I had limited choice on the backing music to this short clip, so just picked what was available, but I'll try and find a better MP3 at home over the weekend.