Wednesday, 26 November 2008

BBC stops jokes

The BBC Archive has put up some interesting stuff from WWII about Russian relations. It ties in with the BBC series World War II: Behind Closed Doors and features this series of memos on the subject of the appropriateness of jokes about Russia once they joined the conflict.

Monday, 24 November 2008

The Age of Normalization...

Technorati published it's State of the Blogosphere report recently. This annual report from Technorati looks at the statistics and trends in the blogging world (blogosphere). Some of the stats seem crazy, 133 million blogs started since 2002, 900,000 posts a day and 94.1 million blog readers in America alone in 2007. For information about the UK blogosphere see this report from comScore.

One item in the Technorati report which caught my eye was a quote from Shel Israel about the blogosphere and what it now means:

Until recently, 'the Blogosphere' referred to a small cluster of geeks circled around a single tool. Now it refers to hundreds of millions of people using a vast warehouse of tools that allow people to behave increasingly online like they do in real life. We have entered the Age of Normalization in the Blogosphere.

The age of normalization - have we really reached the stage where blogs are a normal and routine communication channel? I don't know that we have, I'm the only person among my group of friends who reads blogs on a daily basis. Its not a very scientific argument I know but they are all daily users of the Internet, into Facebook etc but none of them are interested in blogs. I doubt that on a day to day basis reading blogs is a routine activity for the majority of people. However, what is clear from the figures involved is that blogs have a large, growing audience (41% of UK Internet audience) for whom blogs are a regular read. So, if you are in the business of communicating with people then blogs should be an important tool for you.

The useful thing about report like the Technorati one is that it helps to gain an idea of where blogging sits in the world of communications and whether its worth considering. As blogs do become normal you have to wonder whether it will seem particularly innovative for your archive to have one as well? Or if you don't have one will it be a disadvantage similar to that which not having a website was a couple of years ago? I don't think having or not having a blog will make or break the reputation of an archive but I think not having one is an opportunity missed to share your collections, update interested readers or bring to life records.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Too busy to Web 2.0?

I've briefly touched on the issue of how much time it takes to do "web 2.0" before. Back then I linked to a post from the Museum 2.0 blog that I had found very useful. I started to think about this issue of time and what busy archivists can do again as I've been preparing an article for Arc on the subject of Web 2.0 and Archivists.

Taking inspiration from some nice diagrams
here, I put together this image to accompany my article and thought I'd share my hard work cutting and pasting logos here on the blog. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I think it breaks up Web 2.0 activities nicely and shows how even with very little time its possible to dip your toe in the Web 2.0 world.

Breaking up "Web 2.0" into 3 main stages makes it less daunting as an activity. Checking out Wikipedia for references to your archive is easier and less scary than creating content and 'putting yourself out there'.

Before you start participating, creating content or building communities, my top tip would be investigate. Find out what level of web presence your organisation or collections have. Get a sense for what is out there and what works. Then participate - comment, amend, tag anything you find with your expert knowledge about the collection and link back to your own website (or blog, flickr pages etc if you you've also been busy creating.)

Friday, 21 November 2008

Web 2.0 Guidance

Sometimes we all need a little guidance:

Finding guidance on how to start a blog isn't hard, it is more difficult to find something that addresses the issues that you might face if you're trying to do it for your organisation or answer questions from your boss.

That's why I was delighted to discover this excellent set of briefing documents from the folks at UKOLN on all things Web 2.0. They have lots on blogs and blogging and as its geared towards the cultural heritage sector it is more relevant than a lot of the advice out there about Web 2.0 in general.

At the moment they even have briefing papers on the use of blogs in libraries and museums so hopefully there will be one for archives soon...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Google and Life magazine

Google has started to digitise and make available online the Life photo archive. This means according to the site that people can "search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today." Many of the images were never published and at the moment about 20% of the collection is available but the aim of the project is to make about 10 millions photos available in the next few months.

Archivist Lawrence D. Gurrin examining unidentified text.

My reaction to this was very much in the vein of 'oh, how interesting' but it did raise some interesting issues on the Records Management listserve. Some people asked whether digitising these images will mean that they are looked at any more and whether there was a danger of digitising just because we can.

What do you think? My view on this is 'why not?' Google obviously have the resources to do this and it makes what seems to be an excellent collection of images available very easily and I think it will become a great resource. I'd like to see some kind of user tagging function, at the moment you can only rate the images but this might follow.

Personally, I was a little disappointed with the response that this project got from some of the RM community, but maybe I'm overly enthusiastic about this type of thing. As a profession do you think that we have a tendency to be pessimistic about digital projects and struggle to see the point of them?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

First World War Diaries

Diaries as blogs can work really well and they are one of my favourite examples
of using Web 2.0 technologies to bring to life documents that might otherwise be forgotten or limited to family readership only.

The Telegraph has an interesting article about the diary of Captain Alexander Stewart. This diary has been made available to download as an e-book and the Telegraph article has also allowed readers to share their own stories using the comments section online.

Armistace - 90 years on

On the 90th anniversary, a selection of some of the offerings from World War One available on the Internet.
I've mentioned the Great War Archive project before, but
this is the poetry section of their site which has a mixture of resources included biographies, poems and digital images of original sources like Wilfred Owen's citation for Military Cross.

At the moment The Times has several First World War related items on their archive pages, although this will change. Including this article from 11 November 1920 when the tomb of the Unknown Warrior was unveiled.

TNA Voices of the Armistice

To Remember

The archive profession has the privilege and a duty to help preserve the remembrance of things past. Seeing the final 3 living veterans of the Great War out of 5 million British Armed Forces participants today emphasised that soon this tangible link with that conflict will be gone and only the records will remain to remember the sacrifices of that generation by.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Gunpowder, treason and plot

Today is the 403rd anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot. I thought I'd share this website put together as part of a project by the Parliamentary Archives, the History of Parliament Trust, the 24 Hour Museum, and developers Mackenzie Ward Research.

There is also a paper from the 2006 Museums and the Web conference which explains how the site came about and the process involved in creating an online resource like this.

If you haven't seen or heard of the Museums and the Web conference, it is worth checking out their website. Most of the papers from over 10 years of conferences are available online and it is an excellent resource for projects in the Museum and Archive world.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Love, love, love it

I want one of these for archives. Check out the Library 2.0 idea generator taken from Dave Pattern's blog. It's been up a while but I just found it today.

What is Library 2.0? That's a post for another day but in the meantime:

Image taken from The Read/Write Web: Social Software and Libraries.

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