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Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

My first iPhone applications

In new content on July 29, 2010 at 1:11 pm

If you’re heading off on holiday to either Italy of Egypt this summer then you might want to download one of my first two iPhone apps. I didn’t write the coding, obviously, just the words.

They’re mini-courses, one about Ancient Rome and the other about Ancient Egypt. Each app has ten short chapters of content, scribed by me, made up of text, images and maps. There’s a glossary in case you aren’t familiar with some of the terminology used, and there also a quiz at the end so you can test yourself about what you’ve learned.

It’s the perfect way to swot up on some ancient history before you go on your travels. And, as it’s in your phone, you can take it with you on holiday to refer to when you’re there.

The clever behind-the-scenes work of designing and coding the content has been carried out by the educational software company Zuztertu, who make individual handheld learning materials, most of which are apps for iPhones. I met their Chief Exec – Gerlinde Gniewosz – after downloading one of their apps about museums in London. We got talking and came up with the idea for a series of mini-courses on ancient history. I’ve written another app about Ancient Greece, which is currently having the developer’s treatment right now and will be out in due course.

So if you’re a geek for ancient history and have £1.79 knocking around, why not download one and see what it’s all about for yourself.

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A Giant Cause

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on July 20, 2010 at 6:40 am

At long last, works are commencing on the visitor centre at the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. The project has taken an age to get off the ground after the previous structure on the site burned down in 2000. The National Trust is now spending £18.5 million on the new centre, designed by architects Henghan Peng and with interpretation by Event Communications.

I’ve been watching this story for a while, since visiting the site a few years back. There’s a piece about the new visitor centre live on Museum [Insider]. This will also be one of the chapter’s in the forthcoming e-book about museum and heritage development project, which we’ll be officially announcing next week.

How to stay happy in south London

In Dulwich OnView, happiness, new content on July 16, 2010 at 8:50 am

I interviewed a local south London blogger recently about happiness. Sasha runs the Happiness Project London, writing about things in the capital which can help to keep us sane (and hopefully happy) in a world of madness and chaos. There’s an interview with her on this website as part of my ongoing reserach project about the modern state of happiness.

But while I had her, I also asked a few extra questions about life in our area of London so I could write a piece about her for Dulwich OnView. She’s a really interesting character, so I figured she’d make a great addition to the South London People thread we have running on there. Do check out what she says can keep us happy in south London.

A library of interior design?

In Dulwich OnView, new content on July 13, 2010 at 10:36 am

I love finding out about new museums, collections and libraries on my doorstep in south London. We’ve all heard of the museums at Crystal Palace and the Horniman. You perhaps know about the hidden gem of Kingswood House. And some people have even heard of the Puppet Centre Trust in Clapham. And I must make a visit to the newly developed South London Gallery now it’s open.

It turns out there’s a library of home improvement at a local design studio near me. Homelab is part of the design studio at Begin Design, a studio in Forest Hill. They’re kindly opening up their space for a series of free interior design workshops later this month. There’s a piece all about the library and their events on Dulwich OnView today.

Museum without walls

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on July 12, 2010 at 6:19 pm

The Causeway Museum Service in Northern Ireland has been operating very succesfully for year without one key element – a building. The service provides temporary exhibition content and outreach projects for a variety of venues but has, hitherto, not had a place it can call home.

That’s all about to change with the requsitioning by Coleraine Borough Council of the old Market Yard, an abandoned market place in the centre of the town. It will be redeveloped and a new museum placed in the centre, revitalising the town and bringing the story of the area to life in a permanent display. There will also be temporary exhibition areas and a community space where locals can get involved.

I’ve spent the last year or so looking at museum development projects, but this is perhaps one of the most ingenious I’ve seen, given that it turns the audience engagement model on its head. Rather than creating a huge building and then spending a lot of time effort and money on getting people in to see objects, Causeway have found the people already, engaged them successfullu and are now going to use that good will to bid to the HLF for money to complete a building for them. There’s a piece all about it – including an itnerview with the designers HKD – on Museum [Insider].

This is one of the pieces that will be going into the new Museum [Insider] e-book, coming out shortly. It’s a review of some of the projects I’ve written about in the last 18 months for the online magazine. It’s being edited right now – we’re digging around again on some of the older stories to bring them right  up to date. The collection of articles – plus new material, exclusive to the book – will be issued for sale in about a month. Much more to come on that in the near future.

A home for the Mary Rose, at last

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on July 9, 2010 at 7:46 am

Do you remember the Mary Rose being raised out of the water in the 1980s? It’s taken the conservators at the Mary Rose Trust quite a while to get their heads around exactly how to treat and preserve the wooden hull of the ship, which had lain undisturbed for over 500 years, and what sort of structure they want to keep it in on a long-term basis.

But now work is underway at the site in Portsmouth, near the HMS Victory, where the Mary Rose will reside in a purpose-built museum. They’re still working on the hull, spraying it almost continually with chemicals to prevent it from cracking. Once it’s installed in the new museum – shaped like a boat – it’ll need to be dried out very slowly, over a period of years, and should be completely ready by 2016. The museum opens before that though.

It’s reminiscent of the excellent Vasa Museum in Stockholm, one of my favourite museums in the world, where visitors can get up close and personal with the ship on display there and also learn about the lives of the people who lived and worked on board.

There’s a new article about the Mary Rose on Museum [Insider]. This is one of the articles that will be making it into Museum [Insider]’s first e-book, penned by yours truly, which we’re expecting to launch in about a month. Plenty more coming on that soon…

Happiness in Brixton

In happiness, new content on July 8, 2010 at 10:11 am

I wrote last week about how I met a blogger who writes in a similar vein to me. The Happiness Project London is a celebration of life in London, encouraging us to enjoy whats great about the city rather than dwelling on expensive, conjested transport and everyone being so busy all the time. Her blog is full of great ideas of things to do to relieve unhappiness and she also points out a number of ‘rules’ which can help us to be “a little more spiritual and a little less selfless”.

Sasha kindly agreed to be interviewed for my ongoing research project about the nature of happiness and what it means to us in a modern context. The interview with Sasha is online now on the happiness pages of this website. She told me about her life and what prompts her to blog about happiness for Londoners.

I was really interested to hear about the beneficial properties of blogging itself – I find myself asking if blogging can make us happy? Given my research is aiming to unpick the nature of happiness today, I’ve been inspired to look at how the technological advances of our time may have affected our happiness. In this case technology has clearly had a positive impact on someone’s life. But I wonder if that’s always the case?

I’ve got more interviews that are still waiting to be written up, so there’ll be more coming online in the next few months. And I’m also lining up other people to be interviewed. If you’ve got an interesting story behind you and you’d like to be involved in the project, do let me know.

Dulwich OnView is celebrated at EVA conference

In Dulwich OnView, what i'm reading on July 7, 2010 at 3:34 pm

The online magazine Dulwich OnView, for which I write articles sometimes, was showcased (yet again!) at the Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA) conference in London this week. The Computer Arts Society and the Chartered Institute for IT. They say that since it’s conception in 1992, ‘the EVA conference series has established itself as a natural home from which to explore the richly interdisciplinary and constantly evolving world of digital visualisation.’

The paper presented on our project focussed on the social nature of our magazine, highlighting how we come together as a group to make the blog. And this, I believe, is the key to the success of the magazine – we are friends in real life and we have created an online social network which reflects that.

The paper Dulwich OnView: an art museum-based virtual community generated by the local community is available to read on the EVA proceedings website.

With thanks to the authors Ingrid Beazley, Jonathan P. Bowen, Alison H.Y. Liu and Sarah McDaid, who have done a great job of celebrating our successes.

That reminds me, I must go and post an article on DOV. I’ve got a great one waiting to go live….