Archive for 2010

Puttin’ on the writs

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

This year we had a bit of fun at the National Library of Australia’s Christmas party with our own little take on copyright law. Thanks to Dereta for all her hard choreography work. It was great fun.

Australian Women’s Weekly visual timeline

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

In the past I’ve spoken about moving our collections Beyond the search box, the colorful library and that libraries should be the provider of digital information but not control how we interact with that information.

Recently the National Library of Australia released digitized versions of the Australian Women’s Weekly. The existing way of accessing this collection is via a search box or a calendar. That’s a pretty traditional method for accessing library information, but I want to relate to the material in a different way. Back in the physical world, how do we view magazines in a newsagents? Are magazines hidden away or are the covers displayed to catch our interest and therefore purchase them? Some magazines like National Geographic are easily recognised by their iconic yellow and striking cover images.

Likewise, the covers of the Women’s Weekly are an iconic historical record of Australian society. I can remember what the covers looked like from when I was growing up, but I can’t easily remember the dates of any of the issues. How can I access this information in a visual manner?

With a bit of screen scraping I can build an alternative entry path into the collection. By extracting the relevant details for the year, month & issue I can repurpose the data into a visual timeline.

Screen shot of Women's Weekly visual timeline

50 years worth of issues is a bit much to be loading all at once, so I’ve built this to dynamically load in another year of covers as you scroll to the bottom of the screen. I like this interactivity as it encourages exploration without being too resource intensive. Of course the covers link to the relevant issue within Trove where you can explore the content further.

I hope this proves to be an interesting way of interacting with the collection. Enjoy.

Update 24 Dec 2010: My timeline has been integrated into Trove.

Trove and the Australian Women’s Weekly

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Yesterday the National Library of Australia launched fully searchable digitsed versions of the Australian Women’s Weekly. It’s a fantastic resource for searching, but I find the interface a little time consuming for just browsing through issues & looking at the stories, images and advertisements. Luckily there is a very simple alternative.

Step 1. When you are viewing an issue there is an option to download the issue as a PDF.

Screen shot showing the Australian Women's Weekly

Step 2: Once the PDF has downloaded drag it to iTunes so it is added to your books (of course you can edit the metadata to something more appropriate than the blank default version).

iTunes Books

Step 3: Sync your iPad with iTunes & now you have a copy of the issues in iBooks on your iPad (or iPhone). A much nicer browsing experience. You can swipe from left to right to change pages and pinch to zoom in and out using all those lovely interactions we’ve become so used to.

iPad

It feels like a bit of a hack, but if the option is there to do it, and if it’s so easy to do, why not.

Web Directions South 2010

Monday, November 1st, 2010

I recently gave a presentation at Web Directions South 2010. It was an amazing opportunity & really a highlight of my year.

John & Maxine run an incredible conference & I thought this year they managed to have some of the most amazing speakers. The presentations by Scott Thomas, Michal Migurski and James Bridle were a stand out for me (and I’ve been waiting for the podcasts to come online to hear Craig Mod’s presentation which I missed due to pre-talk nerves).

I’ll be writing soon in a bit more detail about the application I built that I based my presentation around. In the meantime you can access the audio recording of my presentation at the Web Directions site.

Colours of a tag

Friday, May 14th, 2010

I’ve been expanding upon the experiments I presented at VALA earlier this year where I built a search by colour application for the National Library of Australia. Out of curiosity I built the same search by colour application using approximately 35,000 images from Flickr Commons.

Since building these applications I’ve been wondering, do certain topics (or tags) also relate to a colour? Does a search for Paris return the colourful images your imagination expects? Are images tagged with red really red?

With a bit of help from the Flickr API, I’ve built an application that queries the 50 most interesting Flickr Commons images for a particular tag, and displays the colours of these images. It also attempts to create a definitive colour for the tag by averaging the colours out.

As you explore the tags more & more you tend to find that most tags return an average muddy brown colour. I suspect this is partly to do with many of the images being black & white & skewing the process.

It’s really interesting to explore a few different subjects and seeing what results appear.

Formats

Can we find an colour gamut for a format?

Cities and countries

Do different cities or countries have different colours associated with them?

Objects

Do objects have particular colours associated with them? Take a bridge. Why do bridges exist? They exist to allow us to go over a river or a valley. With that logic we should expect photos tagged with bridge to have a reasonably large amount of green or blue in the image.

Sure enough, we get quite a few images with green and blue in them.

Colours

Of course colours are a natural subject to test.

Blue

Green

Red

Yellow

Have a go

Feel free to explore the application and find some interesting results. The URL is totally hackable if the tag you want to test isn’t part of the initial tag cloud.