Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Flickr Commons turns 5

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Today Flickr Commons turned 5 years old. The Commons has turned into an incredible resource of over 250,000 images from 56 different libraries, archives, and museums throughout the world. For me, the launch of Flickr Commons heralded what turned out to be a huge turning point for my career.

Flickr Commons allowed me to build my first proper mashup – my Google Streetview Then & Now. This was a bit of a breakthrough moment for me. It was my first demonstration of the power that comes from having interesting photos and associated data that was freely licensed and freely available to be shared through an API so others could do things with it. It made my day when George Oates at Flickr saw it and called me a superstar!

A bit to my surprise, people liked what they saw. I overcame my fear of public speaking and starting talking about what I had done and what could come from sharing and reusing data at conferences. People outside of work took an interest in what I had to say. People were willing to fly me places to listen to what I had to say & to listen to my ideas. Not only that, people referred to what I was doing in their conference papers and blogs. This led to me becoming the first Australian to be named as a Mover & Shaker of the library world by Library Journal. It’s allowed me to become a bit of an experimenter at work and

Along the way, my Commons experiences have introduced me to so many like minded people throughout the world. It’s these connections that can’t be measured by the number of views or comments an image contains.

In 2011 my Commons experience was complete when my work set up our own Commons account. I’m now on the other side trying to get interesting things from our collections out there to see what other clever people do with it. It’s a blast!

Little did I know that way back then that building a mashup at 3am one morning would influence my life and my career. I’m absolutely loving the journey it’s taking me on and can’t wait to see what happens next.

Thanks Flickr for what you’ve created.

Reflections on 2011

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

As you can see from my site, 2011 was a year that I didn’t do very much writing. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to write about, I just didn’t get around to finishing up the posts & they stayed in drafts (hence this being posted in February – better late than never). This was a pretty good reflection of how I felt this year went, good but not complete.


A lot of good things happened this year at work. I was part of a national project called LibraryHack to enable what I had been talking about for the past few years – opening up library collections to reuse through API’s.

I cut down a bit on the amount of speaking I did this year, but ran a few more hands on tutorial sessions that I really enjoyed.


This year I travelled to Portugal, Spain & London. I cycled through the Algarve in Portugal, walked the El Camino de Santiago in the north of Spain and was exposed to the wonders of Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona. I had one of the most enjoyable meals of my life in Seville, I loved the schizophrenic space of the Mezquita in Cordoba. My goal for this year is to start learning Spanish.

Ceiling of La Sagrada Família


I took over 8000 photos this year, but only uploaded a small amount to Flickr. I didn’t feel that this was enough. I wasn’t that happy with many of the shots I took. I tended to shoot in large bursts, and that growth and consistency you get from practising a craft on a daily basis wasn’t there. I don’t think I grew as a photographer this year.

Some photographic highlights for me were being asked to be a photographer for TEDx Canberra. This came about from last year’s photos being seen by the organisers and asking me if I would like to help out this year. you have to love the combination of Flickr & Creative Commons licenses for this.

Rebecca Scott

I was inspired by watching Kim Tairi’s Flickr stream. Of all the photo blogs I follow I loved the curation of Vladimir Putin, action man from In Focus at The Atlantic.


A lot of music really didn’t inspire me much this year. Triple J continued to disappoint. Most of the music I purchased was from the 1980’s. I subscribed to the Australian Chamber Orchestra series, and once again they didn’t disappoint. I always find something energetic and inspiring from their performances and interpretations of music, even if I don’t actually enjoy the music. There’s something about watching a live performance, seeing the interactions between the players, their concentration and reactions.

In May I attended what I consider to be the best concert I have ever been to – Reflections by The Cure at the Sydney Opera House. Held as part of the Vivid Festival it was The Cure playing their first three albums in their entirety followed by b-sides from the era. In addition it was an ever growing line up of past Cure members – starting with the trio of Robert, Simon & Jason, then being joined by Roger O’Donnell & finally Lol Tolhurst (the first time Lol had played with the group since leaving in 1989).

The Cure


I ran 641km. It was another frustrating year of building up my running & then getting injured. Building up again & then getting injured again. Most of my runs were short 6km runs. I finished the year on a positive note by being able to run for over an hour and recover well. Hopefully this is the start of good things.

I didn’t really do much cycling this year (besides on my holiday), my bikes gathered dust. I miss it.

I walked 841km. This was mostly just walking to & from work. It’s surprising how quickly this adds up.

I’ve finished 2011 4kg lighter than at the start of the year.


I guess when you look at it in one big list, I did manage to achieve a bit. Maybe I just always want to achieve more in my mind. I’ve got a few things on the go already for 2012 (including a much needed redesign of this site) & I promise I’ll write a bit more about them here soon.

Internet cold turkey

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

I’ve recently just come back from 5 weeks holidaying in South America. I left with the intention of going totally internet cold turkey for this period of time. I wasn’t going to actively seek out the hotels computers or an internet cafe to check my emails, update twitter or facebook, or even upload any holiday photos to Flickr. I wanted to spend my time enjoying where I was going & leaving the world behind for a bit.

That really didn’t last long. Unlike Australia, I discovered that everywhere I went was bathed in free wi-fi networks. Most of the hotels I stayed in had free wi-fi, if it wasn’t in the rooms, it was in the lobby & dining areas. Cafes, ice cream stores, bookshops and even many town squares had free wi-fi. This was common throughout big cities like Buenos Aires and Lima, and not quite as common, but still there in smaller towns like Cusco, Puno, Potosi and Sucre (in Peru and Bolivia).  It was these smaller towns that really surprised me. They may not have had paved roads, but they had good internet connections.

Free wi-fiWi-fi zone

Despite being nearly connected the whole time I was away, I purposefully avoided checking things too much. I took an iPod touch with me, which was the perfect traveling companion. When I felt like it I could check email and update twitter and that was about all I did. The news at home was irrelevant, I was in some magnificent countryside and I wanted to experience that, not a computer screen.

While I was away, the world kept ticking along, I was just oblivious to most of it and it really didn’t matter. I didn’t miss anything too urgent and I felt healthier by the end of it.

A few important things did happen while I was away. The Powerhouse Museum nominated my Then & Now mashup for a “Best of web” award at the Museums and the Web conference – thank you. I was also asked by the State Library of New South Wales to present at their reference@the metcalfe seminar for NSW public libraries in May. 

I’m now firmly back into my regular routine of being connected with the world as much as possible. Is it better? It’s different and I now find I can switch off a little easier than I could a couple of months ago.

A Frasier moment

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

This morning I lined up to get a couple of tickets to the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s upcoming performance of Vivalidi’s Four Seasons.  What I didn’t know was that this morning tickets went on sale for the rugby league grand final.  You could image the dirty looks I got from the people in the line when I got to the front of the line and asked for classical concert tickets instead of the highly prized limited tickets!

I’m sure I’ll get just as much enjoyment out of my once in a lifetime concert as they will out of their once in a lifetime football game. 

Have I turned into Frasier Crane?

Web Directions south wrap up

Sunday, October 1st, 2006

Web Directions South is over for another year and what a fantastic event it was.At Web Essentials last year, I thought the focus was on standards and accesibility. This year, talk of standards took a bit of a back seat. This is an incredible leap forward in the last 12 months. I guess at a conference like this, it is now preaching to the converted. We as developers are using standards & educating our clients and collegues to the benefits of standards based design.This year, there was still an emphasis on accesibilty, but the big push was on user experience, whether this be through the visual design, information architecture or user testing. Nearly every speaker spoke about the importance of user testing.The main web directions site has great summary of the speakers – I was too busy soaking it up to take copious amounts of notes.