Marking time on the web
The quality of tags
The State Library of Queensland is asking people to tag photos in Flickr Commons—Pitch in! Become a digital volunteer.
Yes, I’m willing.
Tags are descriptive terms chosen by anybody and applied to a photo. Let’s take the example of a photo filed under subject headings like koala, or Phascolarctos cinereus, which zoologists would recognise as correct names. Zoologists would also allow descriptive terms like marsupial, or herbivore. But what about tags like bear, or cute, or cuddly?
Tagging is a good way to collect a range of understandings from many people with different points of view and different knowledge. Tagging can produce a useful and sometimes surprising range of descriptive terms. The librarians appear to be encouraging people to enrich the Flickr Commons by tagging. But I wonder if their heart is in it.
On the Pitch in! web page is a black and white photo of four young women working in a garden, with a headline Tag SLQ’s photos in Flickr Commons. Three coloured labels have been applied, apparently to show how tags can add value to photos.
Old Museum Stories
Today the Old Museum Stories website went live. It is designed as a forum for people to share stories about one of Brisbane’s favourite historic places—a place that, since 1863, has been the site of horticulture, recreation, education, performance, and conviviality. Go on, add your story now.
Getty Images: free at last?
For years, Getty Images has tried to stop web publishers using images from its library of pictures unless they pay money to Getty. The company has tracked down pirates and chased them through the courts to recover licence fees. But, in a sudden reversal, the company has announced a new scheme. Bloggers and other non-commercial users can use images on their websites at no charge—as long as the images remain on Getty’s servers and are displayed using Getty’s code.
I know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. When I first heard about it, I didn’t see why Getty Images would do this. But now I do—thanks to Peter Krogh who has explained how this could be part of a cunning plan.
With that new understanding, and just as an experiment, I am happy to try it out. So here is a picture of a lighthouse, courtesy of Getty Images.
The Illustrated Burra Charter: how to buy it online
It is hard to find a copy for sale in a bookshop or on the web. I have had quite a few enquiries from people who wanted to buy one, but who couldn’t find a convenient source. In the past I have sent those people to the Australia ICOMOS website, where the online ordering process is a reminder of life before amazon.com.
I follow the @AMSAupdates Twitter feed for news about the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s work. These tweets don’t appear every day, but they are usually about something important and interesting—a search and rescue operation, a lighthouse repair, a medical evacuation, or a training exercise.
Tim Bennetton on the web
My architect friend and neighbour Tim Bennetton has quietly launched his new website. It’s clean, it’s readable and it lacks the inscrutable puff that’s often found on architects’ websites. Bravo!»more»
Queensland Heritage Council website
I’m pleased to report that the Queensland Heritage Council has a new domain name and website — www.qldheritage.org.au.»more»
The new website I have been building for Rex Addison is now live.»more»
Welcome to the web, Rex Addison
Rex Addison, notable Queensland architect (and a friend of mine), is about to launch himself on the web.»more»
Plotting Samuel Pepys on Google Maps
Since 2003 I have been regularly reading the diary of Samuel Pepys online. I usually read it via the RSS feed (using the Sage extension for Firefox), and have only just discovered that Phil Gifford had started plotting Pepys’s London locations on Google Maps. It just gets better and better.»more»
Enjoy the fabulous collection of historic circus ephemera at circusmuseum.nl. There are thousands of colour lithographic posters from the Hamburg printing firm of Adolph Friedländer, each one catalogued, digitised, and available on the web. The website nicely explains, in Dutch and in English, the provenance of the collection.»more»
Headcounting at Camp Delta
I have just found Jonathan Corum’s Camp Delta web page, subtitled Nationalities of enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay, the “legal equivalent of outer space”. The page is dated February 2004. Old news. But still current.
Corum has drawn graphics to represent each of the men detained at Guantanamo Bay, standing in groups according to their nationality. One hundred and sixty men stand by the flag of Saudi Arabia. Eighty-five from Yemen. Eighty-two from Pakistan. One each from Sweden, Spain, Kenya. One from Iraq. And so on, to a total of six hundred and nineteen.
Two figures stand beside the Australian flag—I know they are Mamdouh Habib (who was released in January 2005) and David Hicks (who is still at Camp Delta). There is one figure holding an American flag, but he is not a detainee.
I admire the graphics, but deplore the facts they represent.»more»
On view on the British Library website is a collection of renaissance festival books, beautifully digitised and presented.»more»
That fine photographer Paul Fusco has recorded the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq. He has web-published 44 of his pictures, with his voice-over narrative, under the title Bitter fruit.
Fusco is passionate, and thoroughly engaged with his subject. He takes us along on his private and independent quest. He is the antithesis of the embedded reporter. The work is published by Magnum Photos, the agency owned by Fusco and other photographers.
The way we do business in the military
From a mailing list message from an American soldier in Afghanistan:
Technology has changed the way we do business in the military. It does seem somewhat bizarre to have unfettered internet access in the middle of nowhere. I can sit in my tent with my ThinkPad and email, IM, and browse the internet the same as if I was sitting in my living room back in Georgia. Myself and 39 other buddies purchased a satellite system from an outfit out of India. The ISP is actually in Germany and we get just about T1 bandwidth which is split up 40 ways if everyone is on (which doesn’t occur due to different work shifts). We “beam” it out via Wi-Fi to the different tents. Even our aircraft (I’m in a CH-47 Chinook unit) are on an intranet of sorts. The system called Blue Force Tracker allows secure tracking of all the different aircraft (and ground elements) within the theater real time. We can email between aircraft and to our headquarters during flight…all with satellite technology. I’ve hardly sent a snail mail letter since I’ve been here.
Ulysses in daily doses
Today is the centenary of Bloomsday, the day on which everything in James Joyce’s Ulysses took place.
I used to think Ulysses was unapproachable, until I bought myself the Naxos audio book. For long driving trips I load the four disks into the CD magazine, and switch on as soon as I get onto the highway. Jim Norton reads most of the text, with Marcella Riordan as Molly. It’s like having them in the car with me, telling me the story. It’s wonderful, and I’m not the only one who thinks so.»more»
Dub dub dub
I heard this today on Radio New Zealand — Linda Clark interviewed a guest, then announced his web address: Dub-dub-dub wildlands dot cc, instead of the usual clumsy dubya-dubya-dubya…»more»
Hunched over my little laptop, with a dial-up connection to paradise.net.nz, I realise that broadband connections and high-quality displays spoil your enjoyment of anything less.»more»
Evidence of humanity
Today I noticed my name in an unexpected place—a list of 50 Random Sites on Witold Riedel’s blog. Thanks Witold for declaring me human.»more»
If you don’t have easy access to Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie you might like to know it is being published on the web by the University of Chicago. This is from the website introduction:»more»
Crocodiles in space
From a Queensland government media release dated 11 December 2003: Environment Minister Dean Wells today launched a new Environmental Protection Agency website to highlight research involving the tracking by satellite of six large estuarine crocodiles as part of a world-first research project.»more»
Charles Cushman photographs
Charles Weever Cushman, amateur photographer and Indiana University alumnus, bequeathed approximately 14,500 Kodachrome color slides to his alma mater. The photographs in this collection bridge a thirty-two year span from 1938 to 1969, during which time he extensively documented the United States as well as other countries.»more»
Telling tales: the poster
I have made a poster for the telling tales conference, to illustrate the points I raised yesterday. Its a bunch of pages from this site displayed as if in open browser windows, lined up to speak for themselves.»more»
Telling tales on the web
I’m going to the Australia ICOMOS Telling tales: interpretation in the conservation and design process conference in Sydney.
Conference-goers are invited to bring posters on the theme of innovative concepts and media to communicate heritage meanings. This got me thinking about the ways I use this website to tell stories about people and places, and what makes it a good medium.»more»
Tate Online catalog
Call me a nerd, but I do enjoy a good online catalog design. The Tate catalog has a wonderful way of displaying relevant fragments of its keyword thesaurus along with a search result.»more»
An email from Miles Hochstein: Enjoyed your reverse chronological autobio… and listed it here: It’s a little different from the others, but I liked your thoroughness and graphics. Well thanks Miles, I liked yours too.
I recommend knowspam.net. Over the last month, knowspam has thrown out every piece of spam before it got to my inbox — six hundred messages I didn’t have to see. Now I only get messages from people I want to hear from.»more»
Jorn Barger is a collector, of a sort—though you wouldn’t know what sort, exactly, from gazing on his worldly possessions. A long-haired, thick-bearded former artificial-intelligence (AI) programmer in his forties, Barger lives in genteel poverty, sharing an apartment with roommates in Chicago’s scruffy West Rogers Park neighborhood. His bedroom once held a lot of books, but he had to sell them off some time ago; the principal fixtures remaining are a secondhand Macintosh with built-in television, a boom-box radio, and a bed. Barger spends his days in the bed, and there—sitting with the Mac’s keyboard in his lap and its monitor beside him—he collects: A color-coded map of the world’s language families. A discussion of the various titles Proust considered and discarded for Remembrance of Things Past. A National Enquirer article on “who’s doing yoga in Hollywood.” A BBC item on the evolution of cooperation among capuchin monkeys. Some photos of Fisher-Price Little People repainted as characters from Futurama. A FAIR analysis of recent mainstream news coverage of the IMF and the World Bank. An oddly evocative Webcam shot from the Jennicam Web site. A tribute to the Spanish-language children’s television show El Club de los Tigritos. A compilation of Noam Chomsky resources on the Web. A detailed list of textual correspondences between James Joyce’s Ulysses and Homer’s Odyssey. A phrase that Barger dreamed last night on the edge of waking.»more»
Tool patents online
Some of my cheerful companions on the OldTools mailing list have helped to build the Directory of American Tool and Machinery Patents. This is a searchable database that opens the historical records of the US Patents Office. Here you’ll find patent specifications for great leaps in American tool design (like Justus Traut’s 1888 plane iron lateral adjuster, used ever since by the Stanley company), and for thousands of smaller steps forward.»more»
Salam Pax is real
Peter Mass has written a piece for Slate about meeting Salam Pax:
Salam Pax (not his real name, surely) writes a weblog from Baghdad. It’s a gripping account of daily life in a city waiting for the onslaught.
Ed Hamrick Fan Club
Ed Hamrick is a one-man-band software developer and the author of vuescan. When I want to squeeze the last ounce from a negative, this is the tool I reach for. The program just gets better and better. I don’t know any software vendor as helpful and responsive. Ed is a legend.»more»
Everything Bucky knew
Everything I know is a complete video, audio and text record of a Richard Buckminster Fuller talkathon:»more»
The weblog of Samuel Pepys
Last year I pointed out Michael Stillwell’s website containing excerpts from Samuel Pepys’s diary. I called it a proto-blog.
Now Phil Gyford is publishing Pepys’s diary, day by day, in true weblog form. He has signed up to a job that will run to the end the diary — nine years. Much of the heavy work has already been done by the remarkable David Widger, who produced the digital text from the 1893 edition of the diaries.»more»
I have added bells and whistles to this website: Dean Allen’s nifty Google Hilite. Now, when you come here from a Google search, your search terms will be highlighted on my page. To see it in action, search Google.com for dean allen porridge. Thanks Dean, that’s brilliant!
Arts & Letters Daily, again»more»
Mena on movable type
Mena Trott, co-author of Movable Type, is interviewed on the south by southwest 2003 conference website. She tells what makes a good weblog:»more»
Arts & Letters Daily
Today Arts & Letters Daily posted a gone out of business announcement, instead of narrow columns of tasty micro-content. I’m bereft. What do you do when your browsing home page goes bankrupt? (This story has a happy postscript).
Small multiple skyscrapers
I’m grateful to Christina for pointing out the SkyscraperPage, a site with a collection of thousands of scaled images of tall buildings. You can select and sort them by location, height or age, and line them up for inspection. I think it’s a delightful use of small multiples, as Edward Tufte calls this form of display:»more»
BlogTree.com is a site that records the pedigrees of blogs (that’s right blogs, not dogs). For example, when I started Marking time I was inspired by the blogs of Jason Kottke, Dean Allen and Andy Crewdson — look here to see who else was similarly inspired.
In February I mentioned Leslie Harpold and the delights of her hoopla.com website. In early April Verisign, without Leslie's approval, transferred her domain name to someone else. While she tries to get back what is rightfully hers, Leslie has uploaded the contents of hoopla to a campsite at leslie.harpold.com.»more»
Haircut blogs and other inventions
Pseudodictionary.com collects new words and credits their inventors. So we know who to thank for the useful term haircut blog. That reminds me…
I have the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1875). And I also have the eleventh edition (1911, with 1922 supplement), which I prefer for its greater coverage, its thin paper and its leather binding. I don’t begrudge the four-and-a-half metres of shelving they occupy. It’s handy to be able to look up Primitive Methodist, or Poughkeepsie, or Piranesi in these time capsules.»more»
I am on a mailing list devoted to old Canon SLR cameras. A while ago someone asked an off-topic question — how to use an old Gossen Lunasix light meter. I responded by publishing the instruction manual here.»more»
Welcome back REMO
…and thanks, Remo, for making me a featured customer. Nobody else ever did that for me.»more»
ArtandCulture.com presents an interconnected guide to all the arts, offering information about artists and movements in the Design Arts, Film, Literature, Music, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts. Learn more than about that individual artist or movement; learn about the relation to other artists and movements across the disciplines.»more»
Preservation briefs available again
I am pleased to find the the US National Parks Service website is back on the net. See US judge pulls the plug on the internet for background.»more»
Ftrain is listed in my bookmarks under the heading blogs. But it’s not the usual daily stream of jottings and outbound links. Paul Ford writes short pieces of fiction and non-fiction, each richly linked to other pieces on the site. You can follow connections up and down a hierarchy of subjects, sideways to related pieces, or back and forth chronologically. Ftrain is built on a database of content, and (I guess) some nifty programming that maintains the pages.»more»
A quote for the day from Samuel Pepys’s diary.
Something the web is good for
This web page explains how walking beams work, to transfer a rotary motion up the mountain, over great distances. It uses a Java applet to make an animated diagram of an eighteenth century mining machine. With your mouse you can operate the machine, and try different sizes of rods, levers and wheels.
building blogging hath three conditions…
Here’s part of an interview with Evan Williams of blogger:
To me, the blog concept is about three things: Frequency, Brevity, and Personality. These are the three characteristics that I believe are the driving factors in weblogs’ popularity as a publishing format. This clarification has evolved over time, but I realized early on that what was significant about blogs was the format—not the content.
Browsing by numbers: 10
10 things Google has found to be true includes such useful aphorisms as You can make money without doing evil and You can be serious without a suit.»more»
Google hit parade
The annual summary of most popular searches on Google: What was hot and what was not in the year 2001? Our Year-End Google Zeitgeist feature provides a glimpse at what captivated the world over the past 12 months, based on the most popular search terms on the world’s most popular search engine. And the most popular search term for the year (and most frequently misspelled during September)?: Nostradamus!
Virtual museum: HistoryWired
New from the Smithsonian Institution is HistoryWired: a few of our favourite things, a showcase of objects and stories. You can navigate the collection of objects with a very clever map that shows thematic connections between them. The site design builds on the experimental Revealing things website I wrote about in the Ironic column.»more»
Browsing by numbers: 5
Five Things You Can Do To Fight Entropy Now is a short essay by Romana Machado. I dislike All Those Unnecessary Capitals, but I am interested in entropy because it figures in my life—a life shared with two young children who are powerful entropic agents.
I don’t support all of Romana’s recommendations (cryogenic storage of dead bodies is especially weird).
US judge pulls the plug on the internet
A Washington Post article gives an update on court action over US government failure to properly deal with American Aborigines’ trust funds:
Responding to a court order, the Interior Department has cut itself off from the Internet, crippling the ability of Interior employees to communicate by e-mail and blocking access to information gathered by the department that is routinely used by other agencies and the public.
The plaintiffs in the case have their own website.
Readable text (again)
Jeffrey Zeldman has just argued the case for specifying web type in pixels, in A list apart: fear of style sheets 4. He says only two things always work: (1) Use pixels (not points, not ems, not percentages, not keywords) to specify your font sizes. Or: (2) Use nothing. He makes some good points, but he doesn’t convince me altogether.»more»
I wrote to Andy Crewdson in April to thank him for the enjoyment I’d had from lines and splines, his typography weblog.»more»