Putting things in their place :: Paul Rowe, Vernon Systems


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  • Objects in our collections are often significant because of their connections to people, to period, and to places. I'm going to talk about projects to connect collection to places. Places we grew up in, places we want to visit, places we want to learn about.
  • Dear Photograph is a well-known example where a person can take an old photograph and show it front of the place where it was taken. Anyone can contribute a photo. It's a really nice, simple way to connect the past to the present.
  • Christchurch Art Gallery is one local organisation connecting items to places. They have added map markers for each work that depicts a place.
  • This map information also flows through to DigitalNZ where it could be used in different ways. For example, a New Zealand map showing places referenced in art from various organisations, built on top of DigitalNZ's programming interface.
  • Christchurch Art Gallery involved their volunteers – both spreading the workload and helping determine the locations of the more obscure places.
  • NZMuseums profiles all 400 museums in New Zealand and includes several options for finding museums. If you're visiting a city then you'll probably need to find out where the sights are you want to visit.
  • The NZMuseums options for finding museum now include a handy map view, making it clear where each museum is located.
  • OldSF.org has 20,000 geographic photographs from San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection. By associating latitudes and longitudes to known locations, like addresses and buildings, the developers linked about 2/3rds of the images to the map. This was a partly manual and partly tackled with Google's programming interface for geocoding: converting text places names and addresses into coordinates. The site has a single simple main page which lets you view the map by time. So, up until 1930 we can find these photos of Fort Point.
  • From 1937 we can see Fort Point transform into the starting point of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Powerhouse Museum and others have experimented with QR codes. For example, putting them on the gallery labels for objects in recent exhibitions. Here we see one in their exhibition on Contemporary Japanese fashion.
  • QR codes are like barcodes that can be scanned from a camera photo. They typically store a link to a webpage. So, if the Bucket Fountain had a QR code on the wall beside it, this could be a shortcut for a mobile phone users to get to the Wikipedia page about the fountain.
  • There are several barriers to using these. The most common use of QR codes has been in marketing campaigns. It's harder to feel motivated to scan a QR code if you think it will probably just take you to an advert.
  • Image recognition may bypass QR codes. There are several systems for photographing places and objects and finding related content. This works ok for well-known things, like Michelangelo's David. Google Goggles nicely offers multiple sources where you can view more information.
  • It's not there yet though. The Bucket Fountain isn't famous enough and the best Google Goggles can do is offer images of things of similar colour, which isn't a lot of use.
  • Pleiades is wiki about ancient places. Each place has a permanent page and the place information can be downloaded and reused.
  • One initial spin-off is Google Ancient Places. It's a great example of how open content from different sources can be mashed up to show new connections. In this case you can browse by ancient places referred to in Google Books content, along with other stuff like related images from Flickr.
  • Connecting content to places doesn't have to be high-tech. Balboa Park created an interactive game which explores the history of the park. It relies on a simple 0800 voicemail system.
  • Players dial the number and type in the code for the point they are in the adventure. This gives them another audio segment in the story along with clues for getting to the next point in the park.
  • It's a great concept because in works on any old phone, including the public phone booths in the park.
  • This gives you a taste of how content can be connected to places. Help people discover new places. Help them find digital content related to places. Give people ways to get the content onsite, offsite and offline.
  • Putting things in their place :: Paul Rowe, Vernon Systems

    1. 1. Putting things in their place National Digital Forum 29 th Nov 2011 Wellington Paul Rowe, Vernon Systems
    2. 2. Connecting objects to the world we live in
    3. 5. Volunteer Power Courtesy of Christchurch Art Gallery
    4. 8. www.oldsf.org
    5. 9. View the archive in relation to time and place
    6. 10. http://www.freshandnew.org/2009/03/05/qr-codes-in-the-museum-problems-and-opportunities-with-extended-object-labels/ Powerhouse Museum Experiments with QR codes
    7. 11. QR codes http://www.flickr.com/photos/17804775@N00/4336671552
    8. 13. QR codes Quite Restrictive <ul><li>Need: </li></ul><ul><li>to know what a QR code is </li></ul><ul><li>a smartphone </li></ul><ul><li>a QR code scanner </li></ul><ul><li>an incentive to scan it </li></ul>
    9. 14. Image recognition May bypass QR codes http://www.flickr.com/photos/magicketchup/5012051422
    10. 15. Image recognition But it’s not there yet
    11. 16. Use, create, share historical geographic information
    12. 17. Pleiades Ancient Places + Google Books + Flickr + OpenContent
    13. 18. Low-tech is also good
    14. 19. Balboa Park’s low-tech adventure www.giskin.org
    15. 21. Discover places Find connections and content Get content onsite, offsite, offline
    16. 22. <ul><li>Slides up at: http://www.slideshare.net/PaulRowe/putting-things-in-their-place </li></ul><ul><li>Paul Rowe, @armchair_caver </li></ul>