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Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

E-Awards 2009

In Awards on December 29, 2009 at 11:26 am

The final instalment of my awards this year is for services for entertainment new technologies.

Facebook status update of the year comes from someone I forget, but they wrote: X thinks if you give a person a fish you feed them for a day, teach a person to use facebook and they won’t bother you for weeks.

i-phone application of the year is awarded to the trainline app, for changing my life (partly due to the i-phone itself) and always making sure I know when trains to East Dulwich are running. It even runs faster than the main trainline website.

The Self-Employed Homeworkers’ Daytime TV Award goes, in this first year, to Jeremy Kyle for services to waterproof mascara and out-and-out public humiliation.

Finally, the Special Sit-ups Award is awarded this year to Marvin from JLS for keeping us smiling all year.

Eating and Travelling Awards 2009

In Awards on December 28, 2009 at 10:19 am

The second instalment of my awards for 2009, charting my best bits of the year, relates to transport and catering.

Motorway of the year has to go to the M4 for always being clear and for having lots of service stations with M&S food outlets. Always a pleasure when you’re on the move.

Bus of the year – the 176 is always a high contender for its regularity and 24-hour service, but this year it was just pipped at the post by the 40. This route had a new fleet of vehicles in 2009, making it smell a lot less like fried chicken.

Sandwich of the year has to go to Pret a Manger’s Crayfish and Rocket sandwich which, even though it has 370 calories, is a quite a treat on any day.

The inaugural Ruining Christmas Eating Award goes to Morrisons supermarket who have placed adverts this year featuring their festive Wensleydale with apricot and amaretto. Who on earth thought that was a good idea?  That said, they did go some way to re-establishing their brand with me when they launched their online cheeseboard creator. Try it out!

Museum Awards 2009

In Awards on December 27, 2009 at 12:11 pm

It’s the time of year for award ceremonies, so I’m instigating here the inaugural, annual awards from Steve Slack HQ. 2009 has been a great year for museum visits. Here are my highlights

Museum visit of the year is awarded to SS Great Britain in Bristol for their excellent interpretation and choice of audio guides – visitors can choose whether to listen to the perspective of a first class passenger, someone travelling in steerage or the ship’s cat.

Exhibition of the year goes to the futurist show Rodchenko and Popova at Tate Modern. I’m not always a fan of TM shows, but this one really did it for me, with some excellent pieces being gathered from far and wide for the display. And great exhibition branding too, which really fit with the show’s concept.

Interpretive device of the year goes to the Antwerp Fashion Museum for their exhibition on Belgian handbag design house Delvaux. I particularly liked the display of how to make a handbag, and also some great mock-ups of advertising and promotional material from the last 150 years. I blogged about it here.

Christmas shopping in East Dulwich

In Dulwich OnView on December 11, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Argh, I’ve left all my Christmas shopping too late again! With the postal system up the spout, if I order anything online now I’m not going to be guaranteed to receive it before I’m supposed to start handing out presents.

I’m going to have to shop locally. Here’s a piece which went live this morning on Dulwich OnView, about where I’ll be sourcing some unique and creative gifts. And by shopping nearby I’m helping to support the local economy.

Full of Christmas cheer now.

Thought for the Day – Anne Atkins

In happiness, what i'm reading on December 9, 2009 at 10:55 am

Anne Atkins’ Thought for the Day yesterday morning reflected on the Young Foundation’s report into the psychological needs of people in Britain today – Sinking and Swimming: understanding Britain’s unmet needs, which dwells on the nature of depression.

We know a great deal more about depression than we used to. It’s an illness – some people get it and some people don’t. In many cases it’s treatable and there are tremendous success stories in how, as a society, we are dealing with it. Still, it’s now reckoned that 1 in 4 of us will experience depression of some sort during our lives. I find that a rather shocking statistic, and a very sobering one when I’m presently dwelling on what makes us happy, not what makes us unhappy.

Through my research into the nature of happiness and from talking to lots of people about what makes them tick it has become clear to me that, for many, the only way to truly understand what makes us happy is to to understand what makes us unhappy.

Anne Atkins thinks she knows where the root of this unhappiness lies in the very nature of society itself. She says:
“Depression is linked to two objective factors: relationships, and material well-being. As society becomes more fractured so we become more wretched. And the greater the disparity grows between rich and poor, the more dejected we become. The way to happiness would seem clear, if not easy. Better relationships and a fairer world.”While acknowledging that the theraputic treatments available for those who are depressed are valid, she seems to suggest that people just need to man up and get over their depression. That tears are good for us sometimes and, as I suggest here, the happier moments in life have to go hand in hand with the unhappier ones.  But I think she’s confusing unhappiness (a state of mind for many) with depression (an illness). She’s surely getting confused when she suggests that to get over depression, all you need do is find happiness. I’m no expert on the subject, but I’m pretty sure it’s more complicated that than.

She quotes Oscar Wilde: “Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.” Depression is much more than sorrow, more than feeling down or simply being unhappy. It’s a chemical inbalance that affects an entire person. Unhappiness and depression are different beasts.

Of course, Thought for the Day is a moment of religious contemplation and yesterday’s speaker seems to suggest that looking forward to a time when there will no longer be any sorrow (I assume she means the end of time for Judeo-Christians) we will have something positive to focus on.

I really don’t agree with her conclusions.  You can read the full transcript of what she said on the BBC website.

British Museum goes multimedia

In Museums on December 9, 2009 at 9:46 am

The British Museum’s new multimedia guide has gone live with the public. It’s a random access tour, which means visitors choose which objects they want to learn about as they wander the Museum, rather than following a set tour. Although there are some short tours on there, if that’s what you’d like to do.

I’m particularly excited as I have written just over half of the content for the guide. It’s like a conventional audio guide to a museum, but in addition to a sound only tour, visitors also receive a handset with a screen on it – about the size of an i-phone. At various points around the Museum, the guide will refer you to an image or some moving footage on the the screen.

One of the golden rules of writing audio material for museum guides is not to refer to something that isn’t there. There’s no point saying:

‘There’s a vase similar to this one in the Louvre in Paris, with a thicker base’.

What you can say is:

‘Take a look at your screen now and you’ll see a vase, similar to this one, from the collection of the Louvre in Paris. Can you see how the shape is slightly different at the bottom? That’s because….’

This added freedom meant the guide was great fun to write. The handset comes with a stylus, so I could even direct visitors to little interactive games and give them a variety of different commentaries from which to choose.

It seems like ages since I finished writing the content for the guide, but that’s because since my job finished there’s been a lot of other people involved. Aside from checking and editing my scripts, and translating the final text of over 200 commentaries into ten languages (yikes!) the Museum’s staff have also had to program all the interactive and multimedia elements into the handsets.

Yesterday the multimedia guide underwent the ultimate litmus test – my mother took the guide and, after a while of figuring out how the interactive map works, found it quite straightforward to use. And she seemed pretty impressed with the multimedia elements.

Now we’ll just have to wait and see what the public think! Do let me know if you’ve used it, and what you think of it.