Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

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.


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.


Can we find an colour gamut for a format?

Cities and countries

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


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.


Of course colours are a natural subject to test.





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.

Gallipoli Twitter

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

For the past few months I’ve been following a blog set up by the Australian War Memorial where they are recreating the diary of Herbert Vincent Reynolds by posting the entires from his diary on the days they were written. Herbert Vincent Reynolds enlisted in the First World War with the 4th Field Ambulance and went on to serve at Gallipoli.

One thing I’ve noticed about reading the blog posts is how similar they are to Twitter posts. Many of the entries are very short and the manner in which they are written is typical of what you would find in a tweet. I went back through the diary entries to analyse their content and measure the number of characters in each entry. The average number of characters per diary entry between 2nd Feb 1915 and 21st April 1915 was 342 characters. The longest diary entry so far has been 4066 characters long, but many of the entries are less than 250 characters, and really are just short snippets of information about the events of the day. They aren’t beautifully written entries.

Reading through the diary I’m convinced that if Herbert Vincent Reynolds had access to Twitter back in 1915, he would have used it to post his diary entries. The similarities in the writing styles and structure in the methods of communication nearly a hundred years apart is uncanny. It’s also interesting to note that the Australian War Memorial is using their Twitter feed to promote the diaries.

Everything I know about cataloguing I learned from watching James Bond

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

At VALA2010 I did a presentation titled ‘Everything I know about cataloguing I learned from watching James Bond’. What I was trying to explore was the notion of how searching for objects is changing. We are now so used to full text search for books, journals and newspapers that the traditional forms of metadata, such at title, author and date have become secondary research items.

For other collection formats like images or audio recordings, this traditional metadata is still the main method of discovering items. What I wanted to look at was the concept of a full text search for images. To do this I carried out some experiments in facial recognition and colour analysis over the photographic collection of the National Library of Australia.

Here are the slides of my presentation and a link to the search by colour application I developed as part of my research.