Diverse Collections

I’ve always been fascinated by airships, I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it’s that scene from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade where Indianna travels on a Hindenberg that has stuck with me. So when I was casually musing about what to write about this week and took a quick look at historical events that happened on the 6th July as I often do. I was struck by the fact that the first Airship to cross the Atlantic arrived in the United States on the 6th July 1919.

My interest didn’t stop there and went further by doing a quick search across our collections here at the Trust using our collection management system. Having a quick browse through the various airship related objects in the collection, which goes to prove we have so much variety in our collections, I noticed on object in particular which I have added below.

The R34 made the first return west-east trip across the Atlantic by air, arriving in the U.S on the 6th July 1919

It is from our collection at Bateman’s and shows the exact route the British R34 took when making it’s first return trip across the Atlantic in 1919. The R34 would leave the U.K on the 2nd July 1919 and arrive in the U.S.A on 6th July 1919 after a total flight time of 108 hours. The return journey to Norfolk would take from the 10th through to the 13th July and take 75 hours. The airship was not intended for long distance flight and so hammocks were placed in the keel walkway and a metal plates was welded to an engine exhaust pipe to cook hot food.

Another interesting fact about the flight of the R34 is that as the ground crew had no experience of handling large rigid airships, Major EM pritchard jumped by parachute and so became the first person to reach America soil by air from Europe.

R34's less than glamorous fate, wrecked by bad weather!

The R34 would eventually be written off in January 1921 and it’s story would end there.  I think it’s amazing the things you can find in our collections!

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QR Codes and Museums

QR or ‘Quick Response’ Codes have been about since 1994 when Denso-Wave Corporation invented them Japan. That being said the greater use of smart phones with cameras has meant there has been a greater use of these nifty little codes in recent times. In fact I only heard about them in March when a Information Officer friend at Newcastle Libraries told me all about them.

Go on, see where this QR code takes you!

This growth has been especially true in the Museum/Heritage Sector. There are various example of QR code usage in the Heritage Sector including:

  • National Museum of Scotland: Tales of Things – Using QR codes to provide information about object including rare film and images and allowing users to leave memories and comments. Tales of things uses an App format.
  • QRATOR– UCL takes the work around the Tales of Things project further by using QR codes to allow visitors to view curated information and leave their own interpretation. QRATOR links to a database.
  • QR-Pedia: Site used to create QR codes to wikipedia sites, allowing access to wikipedia articles in a mobile-friendly format.

I think the best way to think about QR codes is they are simply a mobile readbale web address, they can create a link between the real world and our increasingly digital world. So why have they become so popular recently, especially when linked to Museum Collections? Well not only because of the aforementioned upsurge in smart phone usage, mobile cameras and increased mobile internet speeds and access.

Using QR codes are cheap, in fact most readers and generating codes are free. Creating the codes can be done in house. Secondly, you could link it to exisiting websites; for example those online collections databases that many Museums have already spent lots of money on. This is particularly true if the site is already mobile friendly.

Of course, all this blurring of the real and digital world also has it’s problems. Not everyone has a smart phone, how many people are aware of QR codes (although they are out there when you look!) and how do we overcome the age all problem of reliable internet access at sites not designed with this in mind (like so many NT sites)?

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the web is what you make of it

I was watching TV last night and saw the new U.K Google Chrome Advert, it was a really good advert and well worth checking out. Apart from highlight alot of googles services, it really made me think. I think in many ways it sums up so much about the ways we are increasingly using the web such as photo sharing/video sharing etc. It also had the fantastic end line of ‘the web is what you make of it’.

Way back at the begining of the year I posted a overview of the ones to watch in digital/social media. One of the main things that was predicted is that online photo sharing would become more popular. Well I think we can say that this definitely probably true. Last week Twitter dived into the photo and video sharing experience with a native picture/video sharing function. You can check out what this will look like here.

Of course just like the google advert says, the web is exactly what you make of it. I’ve never been a huge fan of Twitter, maybe because not many of my friends are on Twitter. However I can see the huge potential these new functions. My interests are in collections, so you post your top ten objects using a #tag to your twitter followers, or perhaps have an object of the month #tag. I think the potential to crowd source lots of interesting photos which is really exciting! You could do with anything hashtagging pictures of peoples own favourite objects through to pictures from events or even favourite landscapes.

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Ipads at Nymans

I’m often blogging about all the great things other organisations are doing when it comes to social or digital media. This week I’m going to talk about the use of new technology at Nymans House and Gardens. The estate itself was home to the creative Messel family. Ludwig Messel buying the estate in 1890 starting the now famous garden. The house itself was to suffer from a fire in 1947 that would leave most of it destroyed, although it would be partially rebuilt and is now open to the public.

Nymans shiny new Ipad2

I’ve blogged previously about the potential uses of tablets, and in particular the use of Ipad as a cheap(er) way of doing interactives or allowing access to information. Nymans have recently went down this route and bought an Ipad2 to be used by Room Stewards and yesterday I uploaded/set up some content. I’ve been working on creating digitial versions of photo albums which were in the stores and are now available for members of the public to view on the Ipad without damaging the originals.

House Steward and Volunteers check out some digital version of photo albums on the new Ipad2

I think the thing I really like about them is the way you can pass the tablet around and it becomes a communal object in a way I’m not sure happens with large interactives.

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Quick Hit: Our Digital Future

My fianceé sent me this link today; I think it’s a fantastic article about how future generations will view digital and the web in general and well worth a read because it envisages not unlike National Trust Strategy how things will be in 2020.

I won’t re-write the article but this is the basic introduction or follow this link to the whole article! Happy Reading!

Are you ready for the connected generation?

The rise of Generation C, Roman Friedrich, Michael Peterson and Alex Koster, Strategy + Business, Issue 62, Spring, 2011. pp55-61.

The ‘C’ in Generation C stands for connected, communicating, content-centric, computerised, community-oriented, always clicking. It’s the generation born after 1990, whose whole reality has been shaped by the Internet, mobile phones and social networking. This is illustrated in a great introduction that provides a future snapshot into the life of a 20-year-old in 2020.

The authors’ thought-provoking message is that increasingly sophisticated technologies and a new generation of tech-savvy people entering the workplace will have major implications for organisations in terms of how their business operates and the nature of work.

Key messages

  • Generation C people have owned handheld devices all of their lives and often use them for up to six hours a day. They have mobiles but prefer sending texts. They use their computers for social media such as instant messaging, Facebook and YouTube.
  • The boundaries between work and personal activities will become increasingly blurred over the next decade, with 24/7 mobile and internet connectivity the norm.
  • This has huge implications for the nature of work and working. Organisations need to look at more flexible working, changes to hierarchical organisational structures and a move to more virtual work communities, often operating out of different countries.
  • Not surprisingly, the authors suggest that telecoms is the industry likely to be most affected, but they also highlight the impact on other sectors such as healthcare, where consumers will have access to more information on diagnoses and treatments, and social media will be used for medical research.
  • Organisations need to start thinking now about the strategies they will adopt when Generation C enters the workplace by 2020, and should see the changes not as a threat but as a means to increased organisation success.

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Where did the images come from?

I’ve not posted for a while having been on holiday been dragged around potential wedding venues, not always a major chore when the venues include Fountains Abbey and Gibside. I did however manage to get away long enough to check out the new Northern Spirit Exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

It was a good exhibition and has already been reviewed by the Museums Journal so I won’t recover old ground. There were a couple of features that touch upon my special interest of all things social and digital though.

Firstly, and I didn’t take a picture of this as it was against Tyne & Wear Museums photography policy, there was digital access on touch screen devices which provided more information about the objects on show.

A projected image from a photo competition on Flickr

However the major thing I was impressed at was a projector of images just outside the exhibition. The projector was showing images which had been collected via flickr as a competition. There was also a touch screen showing a map allowing people to click on locations and view the images. What was most interesting about the projected images was how long people stood around looking to see if they knew where it was.

I think it was a fantastic example of a linked up approach with use of social media and a real world presense. There was certainly a real sense of dialouge and user interaction, which really impressed me.

People (alas my brother and sister in law) trying out the touch screen interface

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Quick Hit: Digital Roundtable

We’re in the middle of an office move here at our hub at Polesden Lacey and I haven’t really had time to post anything substantial this week!

However I have noticed an interesting article in the Museums Journal this month. You can view the article here if you are a member.

For those of you who aren’t I think a summary of the key points I took from it would be that (and everyone says this) lack of time, fear of allowing open access/dialogue and lack of knowledge are major threats to our digital offers. We don’t always think about whom our digital offer is for and all to often fall into the trap of ‘we must do social/digital media’ simply because we think ought to. Finally we don’t alway evaluate our digital presence well.

It’s an interesting piece and well worth a read!

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