Category Archives: Ebooks

Ones to Watch in 2011

As ever at the start of the year, various media outlets produce a list of top picks in 2011. Mashable the news website and blog which focuses on all that is new social, mobile and web wise have rather helpfully put together a list of the 95+ predictions for the web in 2011.

They’re all worth a read, however I picked out a couple which I think are the most interesting with regards to museums and heritage and in particular collections.  I’ve also dropped in a few examples and ideas how they could possibly benefit our work in engaging new audiences.

My first pick of the 95 predictions is in the category of predictions for social networks in 2011. I think the most interesting is number 6; that ‘mobile photo sharing will become all the rage’. I think this has loads of potential, especially when you consider the increasing relaxed rules with regards to photography at some of the trusts places.

I instantly thought of a blog entry written by Nina Simon about navigation by recommendation. The question she asked of the visitors at the museum was what they recommended they saw. However the main thing I liked was the pictures of people with their favourite object. I love the pictures of the visitors with their favourite objects, especially the chap in the AC/DC t-shirt with his favourite armoire.

When you think about it, the surge in numbers of people with smart phones (3 of the 4 people who I regularly share an office with currently have an Iphone) mobile photosharing means this sort of activity is far easier to do and is instantly sharable. You could even create a challenge on foursquare or scvngr for people to take pictures of their favourite object. I think it’s a bit more interesting than the traditional ‘collection highlights’.

Which brings me to my next interesting prediction from the 5 predictions for mobile in 2011. The most interesting thing I noted was the prediction of the increased use of the Ipad and the use of tablets.  I can’t really justify buying one myself (yet!) but they do however provide a relatively cheap way for places to engage digitally with audiences.

Major institutions are using them to display specifically designed app’s. The Brooklyn Museum took a simpler approach and updated 25 wikipedia pages with research they had gathered during the production of the seductive subversion exhibition. The information was displayed on an ipad during the exhibition for visitors to access. A simple but effective way of using new technology!

I suppose ipad’s bring me neatly to my last pick from the e-book predictions. The use of tablet devices and smart phones has also saw the rise of the e-book.  Way back shortly after I started this job in July I talked about if e-books could ever replace the real thing. It seems increasingly likely to me that e-books will replace your standard paperback novel, as sad as this will be for many people with new technology there are always opportunities. E-books and Ipads have made it relatively cheap for museums to digitize books/manuscripts  in storage or behind glass cases in a way not generally possible previously.

So those are some of the ones to watch in 2011 and a couple of possible applications. What are you’re ones to watch in 2011?

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Filed under Collections, Ebooks, Ipad, Social Media

‘Costume Parisien’

I ended up having a interesting conversation about historical and modern fashion in France the weekend before last. Among the various conclusions the one thing we did all agree on is that Paris has always been a centre of fashion. So I suffered a slight feeling of de ja vu when some work relating to a series of framed prints called ‘Costume Parisien’ came across my desk.

The prints show costume from Paris (as you may have guessed!) over a period from 1817 through to around 1825. There are around 50 in total, which might be normally a bit of a nightmare to upload to my blog at once. So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to check out Issuu as was suggested in one of my first blogs about ebooks and this is what it turned out like.

I had intended to embed it, but wordpress doesn’t like Issuu html code!

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Filed under Ebooks, Flip-Page

Pseudo Books?

Part of the collections of Scotney Castle are seven visiting albums compiled by Christopher and Elizabeth Hussey covering a period from April 1936 through to September 1968. 

Watercolour and pictures of Corsham Court Wilshire © National Trust / Charles Thomas

The first four albums for the period 1936-1955 are a record of country house visits paid almost entirely in England, Wales and Scotland, while the three albums for 1961-1968 record foreign holidays and travels.

Over the last week I’ve been developing ways we could use these stunning albums in new ways. The first and simplest I’ve been working on is combining all the images into a single .PDF to use as an eBook.

The second has been working on has been creating a page flip version of the album for use on a external device. Having no skill in creating flash files myself, I’ve been scouring the web and I’ve come up with a number of ways to do this, either using software or sending .PDF files to be converted. I’ve also discovered this free version of doing it, so far it seems to be working fine!

Certainly technology like this is exciting and allows us to look at documents and books which are maybe too valuable or distant to be read in a traditional way. Digital versions of books seem to becoming more and more popular. Something apple seem keen to capitalise on with the launch of the book version of Itunes…..Ibooks!

Having access to information easily is important and interesting but is the wow factor of lost in seeing only a digital copy? Can they really ever replace the real thing? Answers on an electronic postcard!


Filed under Ebooks, Flip-Page, Ipad, National Trust