The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Monday, April 30, 2007

A swamp of turgid prose, a taste of what's to come. Oh brother.

Hey, my first post! Now I have to think of something to say. Well, let's start with who I am and what am I interested in - although this risks spoiling the unmitigated pleasure of my forthcoming presentation at the Research Week, wherein I will finally raise my head above the parapet, bite the bullet and, finding my cherry popped, tell those who can bear to stick around just what I'm doing - and believe me, a presentation from me is not far from listening to nails running down a blackboard. As you might divine from my prose so far. Sorry.

OK, back a couple of steps: me and what I'm doing. I'm looking into sustainability aspects of digital assets in museums, or at least that was how things started off. At the same time I develop websites and gallery applications at the Museum of London Group (including Museum in Docklands). My studentship is a three-way partnership between U.Leicester, Simulacra (fab software company in Winchester whose Andy Sawyer you may know) and MoL. Digital heritage, the general domain I'm working in, is cool by me because I get to blend geekery, day job, museological and philosophical interests and pretty much anything I like, being as it's such a new field you need to go a-magpieing (sp?) all over the place for material. Hey, that's something I can write about...but not yet, I'm keeping my powder dry a little longer. Enough to say that my most productive weeks have typically involved something along the lines of doing some project work at the museum, attending school governors' meetings, reading some neuropsychology and finding something interesting on OUseful (subject: virtual learning, roughly) Lorcan Dempsey's blog (digital libraries, primarily, but also archives and museums), 3pointD (virtual worlds and gaming) or O'Reilly Radar (geekery with an emphasis on open source and/or "Web 2.0"). I guess the rest of you may find yourself doing a similar thing, finding material in unexpected places, but it's one of the most stimulating aspects of this whole caper as far as I'm concerned.

I keep a blog myself that serves as a research diary so I'm going to grab, unedited, a few recent entries off it and you can let me know if anything grabs your attention:

Jeremy Keith on Identity and authority
Funny where stuff turns up. Jeremy Keith often has interesting things to say but I would not necessarily have expected him to talk about something that so directly hits a museological button - until, that is, I thought about it. After all, everything I've been writing for the last year has been observing and depending upon this sort of connection between disparate areas. So, Adactio talks about the problem of authority in the fragmented, distributed environment and I find I can use it almost without translation in the discussion I'm working on about museum authority and the impact of the web

Convergence of metaverse modelling tools
Obviously SL isn't the only player in town but it is nevertheless significant that it is moving towards making it possible to import and export from other environments: modelling tools like 3D Max or other virtual worlds.3pointD.com: Second Life Build Tools Support More FormatsNot that I need to spell it out, but if this is the start of a pattern then we will see greater incentives and lower risks to museums (and everyone else) to invest in Second Life, or more fundamentally in virtual objects that might be used in such environments, and corresponding improvements in sustainability.
And why do I ALWAYS insert an unnecessary "e" in "environment"?

Virtually altered state
Nicholas Carr's posting Go ask Alice's avatar Those wild and crazy guys! This is one for the reality/VR/authenticity file.

Physical as metaphor for virtual!
Karen Schneider on the ALATechSource blog (http://www.techsource.ala.org/blog/2007/03/dear-library-of-congress.html):
"The paper-based book is already a metaphor; books are now born in digital form"

4 comments:

Amy said...

Welcome to The Attic Jeremy! Really looking forward to finding out about digital heritage (something I'm interested in, but baffled by). Oh, and thanks for all those links! I will have to set up some sort of Digital Heritage links thingy in the sidebar when I've got a min'.

Ceri said...

Hello Jeremy and great first blog! As with Amy, I must admit to being baffled by the world of computers and technology (contributing to a blog is about the most I can stretch to at the moment) so will do my best to keep up!

Jeremy said...

Thanks both of you. You know, the fact that you are blogging at all (and I wasn't, at least publicly!)shows that you already know enough about technology - it's (often)useful and it's a great tool for communication. Sure, there's more, but getting on and using it is the main thing.
Digital heritage is a great term, but a little slippery. Are we talking about the digital stuff that deals with heritage (from this blog, to e-journals, to museum websites and podcasts); or about digitised heritage, like photos or 3D models of objects or places; or about the heritage of this young digital sphere - the archaeology of the internet etc. I'm mainly thinking about the first two but the last has some relevance.
If it's useful I could post an awful lot more links, or Amy, if you want to put something in the sidebar why not use my del.icio.us feed? I can make sure that all the relevant stuff is appropriately tagged.

Amy said...

I used to feel like a had a handle on technology - when I was about 8 and programming my Acorn Electron to flash 'hello' in rainbow colours, but at some point it all started to run away from me!! I think the key is not to be scared of technology. I've just about taught myself to do everything I need on a computer by trial and error. You just need the confidence to play around with stuff and not worry about breaking the Internet or something. ;)
If you were to ask me - a total lay person - what's digital heritage, I would probably say all those things you mention. It's an enormous field to play with; constantly expanding I guess.

Would be great if we could use your del.icio.us feed. How does that work then? ;)