Geotagging & mapping Interactive Media Social media

Dan Hill makes a modernism in Australia map for Modern Times (or interesting things clever people do when they have some spare time)

Dan Hill from Arup and the author of the wonderful City of Sound blog wrote a review of the Powerhouse’s Modern Times exhibition. In his criticism of the exhibition he wondered where the extra-exhibition content was – especially given the perfect fit between the content of the exhibition and specific places and sites. He describes the possibilities of architecture walks, downloadable maps, encouragements for museum visitors to go out ‘in the field’.

This approach also doesn’t limit the exhibition to Sydney. It enables the actual museum exhibit to take a more balanced view of the artefacts that don’t relate to the host city – as this distributed exhibition is already reaching out to the host city, by taking it to the streets. So the Powerhouse is experienced outside the Powerhouse, even outside Sydney, and the modernism exhibition likewise (when the exhibition tours, and other institutions host the exhibit, the plaques and exhibits can switch accordingly.)

An accompanying Google Map (or equivalent), detailing modernist places of interest, could be Bluetooth’d/SMS’d to phones and other mobile devices from the exhibition (or the exhibition’s website) as well as from transmitters embedded in the plaques mentioned above. Walk away with the map on your phone (current issues around accessing collaborative maps on mobiles notwithstanding.)

Then, with a group of colleagues he then went off and built a collaborative Google Map pulling together a ‘map of modernism in Australia’. (Zoom in to see the detail . . . )

View larger map in Google

Not only is this a lovely example of mapping exhibition content, it is also indicative of the new participatory environment that museums now find themselves in.

Visitors can now easily go and create their own media for our exhibitions and the walls between the museum and the outside world are becoming far more porous than ever before – and not because of what museums are doing, but because of what ‘the people formerly known as the audience‘ are doing. In part this is the rationale for Hill saying “that the design of the show isn’t simply about mounting a display; it is an exhibit, a cultural artefact, in its own right.” “Mounting a display” is now something that the audience does themselves, recreating their own version of the visit experience through their own digital media – images, videos that they capture during their visit – then sharing these semi-publicly.

Inviting these participatory interactions is no longer optional. And as museums we could be doing a lot more in encouraging, guiding and providing resources to these.

Interactive Media

Vote on our next advertisement for the upcoming Star Wars exhibition!

OK so here’s the deal – the Umbilical Brothers have helped us create six different short TV advertisements for the upcoming Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibition.

One of these is already screening in cinemas (see below). But now we need your help in voting for the next advertisement. We can only make one more, but we have five different alternatives to choose from.

Which should it be?

Vote and help us decide. You can also go and leave comments over on YouTube too if you prefer.

Here’s the current advertisement.

Interactive Media Semantic Web User experience

More powerful browsers – Mozilla Labs Ubiquity

Mozilla Labs has released Aza Raskin’s Ubiquity in an early alpha form. This is a glimpse into a future world of browser technology which brings notions of the semantic web directly into the browser and connects the dots between websites – not from a provider perspective, but from a user perspective.

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Interactive Media

Some NSW Baby Name Explorer easter eggs

Our Baby Names Explorer has been getting a lot of use and some of you might be interested in knowing about a few of the ‘hidden features’.

Here’s some useful ones which use the RegEx structure:

Comparing two names – enter ‘/(name)|(name)’ to compare. For example ‘/(michael)|(john)’ will show the popularity of both michael and john on the one chart.

Show names containing a string – enter ‘/string’. For example ‘/ee’ will show you all the names containing ‘ee’ anywhere in the name.

Show names ending in a string – enter ‘/string$’. For example ‘/ae$’ will show every name ending in ‘ae’.

Compare names ending in two strings – enter ‘/(string$)|(string$)’. For example ‘/(ee$)|(ae$)’ will compare names ending in ‘ee’ and ‘ae’.

There are some more hidden tricks . . . . have fun.

Interactive Media

NSW Baby Names Explorer goes live

It has been quite a long time coming but finally our NSW Baby Names Explorer has gone live as part of the relaunched NSW Government portal. This is the first publicly visible application developed out of a cross-government project that parts of the Powerhouse team are working on.

The application was built in Adobe Flex to work with any data set (death name explorer, anyone?). It required significant data wrangling as the source data was extracted from different databases and provided to us by the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Whilst we had data going right back to European settlement in 1788 the decision was made to launch with data only back to 1900 for performance and quality reasons. Additional data and a lot more functionality will be added over time.

Prior to this application, which is currently quite similar to others in the USA, baby name popularity in NSW was only available for the past 10 years in a very basic list form on the Births, Deaths and Marriages website.

There was some quite amusing newspaper coverage this morning.

Other parts of this cross-government project will go live later in the year . . .

Imaging Interactive Media User experience

Next generation of Photosynth-style image interaction – Bundler

Last year there was a lot of buzz around the first demos on Microsoft’s Seadragon and Photosynth, now from SIGGRAPH08 comes this rather splendid update to underlying technologies and concepts.

There is now a lot more ability for users to navigate and tweak their experience of interacting and browsing a 3D scene using miscellaneous 2D images. I was particularly impressed by the notion of using other people’s photos (from Flickr) to act as the intermediaries in scene reconstructions from your own photos; and the very final simple demo of creating a 3D model of an object by processing a series of handheld 2D images – this would greatly reduce the costs of 3D digitisation for museums.

The toolset used in this new version of the underlying technologies, Bundler, has also been released, so if you have some computer science graduates working in your team you could feasibly give it a burl.

Bundler takes a set of images, image features, and image matches as input, and produces a 3D reconstruction of camera and (sparse) scene geometry as output.

Geotagging & mapping Interactive Media

Some new technologies talked about at the Inaugural Meeting – July 2008

It has been an interesting day down in Melbourne brainstorming many of the technologies that might impact on the higher education sector in the next 5 years. This brainstorming is forming the basis of the upcoming Horizon.Au Report – a version of the Horizon Report tailored specifically for the Australian and New Zealand community.

The North American 2008 report is available from Horizon, and there is a special Museums Report coming very very soon too.

Conferences and event reports Interactive Media Young people & museums

Henry Jenkins – notes from CCI ‘Creating Value Between Commons and Commerce’ conference, Brisbane, 2008

I’ve been in Brisbane the last few days – presenting the Powerhouse Museum’s Creative Commons and public domain projects and also managed attend one day of the CCI’s conference ‘Creating Value Between Commons and Commerce‘. In amongst some truly awful examples of how not to use Powerpoint, there were some interesting presentations and papers.

Here’s the first of a set of notes scribed during the main sessions.

Imaging Interactive Media Mobile MW2007

Mobile augmented animals – Wellington Zoo

One of the really wild things at Museums and the Web 2007 was a demonstration booth from the National Science Museum, Japan. At the booth were a series of paper pop up dinosaurs. By themselves the dinosaur popups were impressive but once a consumer grade webcam was pointed at the paper cutouts they came to life as proper 3d models on screen.

The technology was written up in their paper over at Archimuse.

Geotagging & mapping Interactive Media Mobile

Mobile augmented heritage reality

It shouldn’t take much imagination to see the enormous potential afforded by this prototype project coming out of Germany via Japan – Enkin.

Built on Google’s Android mobile platform (for which, it should be pointed out, no commercially available devices exist), Enkin looks amazing, even as a prototype. David Bearman has written recently about the notion of the ‘inside out museum’ where collections can be ‘digitally repatriated’ and connected up in both space and time (previously discussed). Enkin is one glimpse into that potential future.

If you have only a short amount of time take a look at the video (hat tip – Renae), otherwise spend the time and read their technical PDF.

Of course it is going to take a long time for mainstream audiences to engage with augmented reality heritage content and there are many barriers to be overcome. Interface is perhaps the easiest to solve – already mobile carriers are finding that iPhone users make considerably more use of mobile data than other phone users (see Jason Grigsby great presentation on this and other mobile usability issues over at Slideshare – especially slide #15). More problematic are carrier issues around the charging of data, and even more problematic are the philosophical issues that museums need to deal with in order to release their collections and other content in these new ways.