Thirty years on from the Ash Wednesday bushfires, the Victorian government is inviting people to share their memories and stories of recovery. The stories will feature in CV’s Land and Ecology collection, in recognition of this important part of Victoria’s history.
The Indigenous Culture theme is one of the most visited sections of Culture Victoria. So, when we designed the browse content by location function, we thought carefully about the relationship our audience has with the content, and how we could appreciate this through the ways we represented place.
This post, based on a talk I gave at the 2012 National Digital Forum, reflects on ideas of place, and outlines our partnership with the Koorie Heritage Trust to map the stories in Culture Victoria to 38 Indigenous language regions in Victoria.
Our relationship to place is intensly personal and complex. For example…
How do you answer: Your Parents? The city where you were born? A cultural affiliation? The planet you inhabit? The answer probably changes along with the context of how it is asked, and who asks it.
The title of this post, Ways of Seeing is a nod to John Berger’s television series about questioning habits and convention in order to discover something about ourselves. Here is Jimmy Little introducing his song Yorta Yorta man…
Jimmy and I have something in common: our mother’s are from the same region. But when asked, I say my mum is from Deniliquin. I refer to the single point of the town (markedwith a red pin on the map), even though she grew up on a farm 20km outside town, whereas Jimmy refers to an area that is: “West of Albury, a little south of Echuca.” (circledon the map).
Oxford English Dictionary definition of place:
Noun. A particular position, point, or area in space; a location.
Why do we respond differently? Why do I choose the first section of the definition “a particular point” whereas Jimmy chose “an area in space”?
I can’t say for sure, but I think it has something to do with the fact that we have very different histories. I see Australia in large chunks, the East Coast for instance, and referring to a single point within a large chunk provides specificity.
This is in contrast to Jimmy, who saw the country as a series of small regions defined by language and culture. At the moment, around 150 Indigenous language groups remain out of 350 to 750 languages and dialects pre 1770.
It’s interesting that Jimmy, after referring to his parent’s country, then pulls his focus out, saying, “But my home and my stage is Australia, which is your home, and that’s where I’ll always be.” A consummate performer, Jimmy finds communion with the audience through place, and he can achieve this easily because:
The purpose of Culture Victoria is to increase access to Victoria’s cultural collections; it shares beautiful and fascinating material. When we did the last refresh of the interface, we tried to encourage browsing and discoverability.
We also thought about how to provide different avenues into the content, different ways to understand it. One way is by grouping the stories under 7 themes, another is by mapping it to the Framework of Historical Themes, another is by linking related stories. Another, the focus of this post, is to search story content by location, to discover it through place.
At the time of the rebuild, we were working with the Koori Heritage Trust on Meerreeng-an Here is My Country. Meerreeng-an tells the story of Aboriginal people of Victoria through their artworks and their voices, following a circular story cycle.
Each artwork is accompanied by a story, noting the storyteller and their language group, eg. How the Murray River was Made, told by Irene Thomas from the Bangerang language group and featuring artwork by Ralph Nicholls:
Snake and Water-lilies 1990s, by Ralph Nicholls Yorta Yorta. 1952-1996. Paint, ochre, sand, canvas. Koorie Heritage Trust
Because Indigenous language groups are such strong identifiers for place, and because the Meerreeng-an project included a wide range of language groups, it seemed not only logical, but necessary, to map the content to Victorian place names and Indigenous language groups.
We used the Gazetteer of Australian Place Names to map the Victorian place names. The Gazetteer deals with places that are areas (eg. the suburb Richmond) by pinpointing the area at its centre. It’s pragmatic, but it’s not optimal, and if you’re familiar with Richmond you probably wouldn’t pin its heart as being Coppin Street. But, well, maybe you would… it is afterall, just ways of seeing!
Indigenous language groups are also areas, not points (although you can posit that “…a point is really just a very small bounding box” as Aaron Straup Cope does in This is a Story about Naming Things, which if you’re interested in the complexity of location technology is a great read). However, language groups in this context are not points, they’re areas, and we felt that there must be a better solution than single point representation. And so, the partnership with the Koori Heritage Trust was extended, and the thought exercise began of how to:
The first issue we came up against was…
Culture Victoria is funded by the Victorian Government. However, when Indigenous people view this corner of the country they tend to see it more broadly as South Eastern Australia, extending up into NSW and across into South Australia.
We explored the possibility of mapping language groups across South Eastern Australia, not only because it offered an alternative way to see the country and fuzz up the state boundaries, but because it offered a way to meet the mandate of the website to increase access to collections… just because we deal with Victorian collections doesn’t mean the collections relate only to Victoria. If there’s material relevant to the Barindji language group, or to Deniliquin (both of which are just over the border), it would be only a good thing if these items were discoverable through our mapping.
But in the end, as it would add complexity to the project, we made the hard decision to limit the scope to what we were able to achieve. We would include the 38 widely recognised language communities that overlap the Victorian border.
The second issue we came up against was:
We had to determine the boundaries of the language groups. Now determine has an unequivocal ring to it… To be equivocal, I’d posit that it’s almost certain that the borders of the language groups have morphed and shifted for thousands of years. So to draw lines around them at any point in time would not only be difficult, but probably contentious. When you add to this the loss of cultural information due to the massive disruption following colonisation, the task is an even more complex one.
So, we aimed to…
To be as inclusive as we could. This meant taking into account multiple key sources to determine the language boundaries, specifically:
It’s interesting that through time these maps appear to get less complex – become less rather than more detailed. But what we have, in fact, in the less detailed maps, is a more accurate representation of a nuanced view.
It was with this in mind that we decided to NOT show visible borders in our interface. This would be a simple and effective way for us to acknowledge ambiguity and to achieve the goal of being representative but not definitive. And so, the text at the top of the right hand column specifies that content “is associated with Indigenous language groups that overlap the area shown on the map.”
But whether the borders were visible or not, we still had to determine them, otherwise the computer wouldn’t know how to relate the story content to a particular area.
To do this, Kent used the 3 source maps to draw the broadest, most inclusive, shapes for the language groups. Then, where possible, he checked his shapes with information and maps on the Registered Aboriginal Parties websites to include their interpretation of language group boundaries.
The Registered Aboriginal Parties view of the boundaries sometimes related very specifically to geological features, such as a creek or a dirt track, or where the Murray Rivers enters Lake Mulwala…
When the shapes were settled, Kent identified and plotted latitude and longitude coordinates to create polygons that matched the shapes as closely as possible.
To do this he used a version of David Horton’s AIATSIS map that had been overlaid on Google Earth. This enabled him to locate a lot of points relatively easily. But for others, where the area we were drawing differed from the AIATSIS version, or for areas that didn’t have a physical geographical feature identified by Google Earth, he had to go by eye.
He then sent the longitude and latitude points to Simon Sherrin, our Technical Manager at the time, who created visual polygons.
For example, this is the polygon for Yorta Yorta, Jimmy Little’s mother’s country:
And this is the polygon for Pangerang. You can see that they overlap quite a lot. Others overlap only slightly, or not at all. There is no rule.
Some were simple shapes to plot, like Yorta Yorta, others were quite complex, like the Jardwadjalirequiring around 50 points:
Kent checked accuracy by comparing the polygons against the shapes he’d drawn. Some were spot on, others required further refinement through additional latitude and longitude points.
The final element we had to consider was representation of alternative spellings of the language group names.
Whilst there are no right or wrong spellings, some people identify strongly with a particular spelling and so we needed the system to be able to deal with any one of these versions that might be used in a story. So, the spelling variations were added to the Language Area database tables.
So, where to from here:
At the moment you can only search by location, not by Indigenous language group. We’ll look at adding that functionality. Also, as the language group boundaries may change, we should schedule a review of the polygons at some point.
Now, I’d like to return to the question at the beginning of this post:
Interestingly, two people I’ve quoted in this talk answer similarly:
This is because there are many elements that make us us, there are many lenses through which to view and answer the question. The reason we did the mapping exercise at all was because we had something to attach to the places; something that gives the places meaning, the stories of how we interpret our world…
For example, The Aboriginal Object Collection at Dunkeld Museum shares changing perceptions of Museum practice and traditional owners. Possum Skin Cloaks includes elders talking about transformation through cultural practice. Interestingly, the possum skins used to create the cloaks are from New Zealand because it’s illegal to kill possums in Australia… In another example of trans-Tasman interaction, here’s a video of Jimmy Little singing a cover of Into Temptation, a Crowded House song (who we Australians like to call our own, but we all know that’s not the only way to see it!):
These interactions and exchanges are a small example of how culture morphs and changes. The ‘browse content by location’ function is also a story in and of itself. By representing, side by side, two ways of perceiving and understanding place, it presents a third layer to the view.
It’s been around for more than 100 years and more than 100,000 people pass through it each day, and we’re wondering: is Flinders Street Station an unsung hero of Melbourne’s geneaology?
As part of our Flinders Street Station blog we are calling for love stories related to the station… Funny, poignant, delightful… it may be an awkward first date that began under the clocks or, a story about your parents. For example, Jane Routley, writer of our blog, recently discovered that her mother and father met in the Flinders Street Station ballroom in the 1960s at a Youth Hostels Association meeting.
If you have a love story to share, submit it (up to 500 words), along with any pictures to us at: email@example.com and become part of the larger story of our station and our city. We’ll publish a ‘best of’ in a very special Flinders Street Station blog post.
This humourous 1905 postcard was used to make a date by mail. State Library of Victoria Collection.
Telecom Computerphone Executive Series: the computerphone was a telephone, a personal computer with a built-in display and two micro-drives for storage, an information terminal, and electronic messaging terminal and included a printer option. From the University of Ballarat Art and Historical Collections.
Great. But. The stats seemed high. And, not surprisingly: session attendees would be particularly interested in the topic, and they would represent organisations with the resources to invest in professional development (therefore being more likely to also have the capacity to utilise new technologies). This got me wondering just how (un)representational the figures were, so I did some digging…
As part of the Community Museums Pilot Project, John Watson gathered statistics from 80 community museums in the Goldfields region. His work gives a great snapshot of the sector in one region of Victoria from 2010-2012.
In 2010, 18% of the Goldfields museums used social networking, by 2012 this had increased by 30%. John commented that this amount is likely to escalate in the next 5 years with the arrival of ‘tech-savvy retiree’ volunteers.
In 2010, 67% of organisations had Internet access. This had risen to 76.9% in 2012, meaning 23.1% of the community museums didn’t have Internet access.
Peta Knott, Project Manager of Victorian Collections (VC), has collected statistics during 2011-2012 from organisations across Victoria participating in VC. These figures show a much lower percentage of online activity… Of the 175 organisations using VC, only 4 had Facebook pages.
As part of Peta’s survey, organisations self-ranked their members’ Internet abilities:
46% claimed that they were confident (can use the Internet for social media and to source information); 10% classed themselves as beginners (know what the Internet is but not sure how to use it). Only 46% of the organisations had Internet onsite, meaning 64% of organisations were not connected.
I would hazard a guess that the majority of organisations without Internet connections are located in regional areas. In the Unmet Demand (those who would adopt a service if it were available to them) section of the Telecommunications Spend and Demand in Victoria, 2012, report “almost all inhabited areas of the State can now access at least 256Kbps services, with unmet demand for broadband at speeds of up to 8Mbps falling to just 12,723 premises state-wide”… “In 2011, ADSL+ and equivalent broadband services had reached 92.8% of households and 92.1% of businesses”. Community museums are well below both the household and business norms. It is likely many community museum volunteers use their home connections for museum business. It is also likely that connectivity and equipment costs are prohibitive for many community museums.
Being Internet connected and savvy serves community museum business, and some groups are doing terrific things in terms of access and engagement to their collections. The SurfWorld Museum, Torquay, use Facebook to advertise exhibitions, show off new acquisitions and connect with current surfing events and surfing fans. The Mission to Seafarers share their collection of photographs and documents on Facebook and Twitter to pique the public’s interest in maritime matters. A number of larger museums and galleries are also very active, such as the Bendigo Art Gallery.
Almost all museum conferences now run ‘technology’ sessions, for example, Laura Miles, Executive Director of Museums Australia (Vic) is running a workshop at the Museums Australia National Conference 2012: Twitter for my museum: interactive workshop to get you started.
Connectivity and online activity amongst community museums is gradually increasing, and I look forward to seeming many more examples emerge. We’d love to hear from any small-medium museums regarding experiences and thoughts around being visible online…
For regular readers of the Culture Victoria news blog, what follows is a detailed and slightly techncial account of a linked open data workshop. You may wish to tune out now! But, if you’re interested in how our collecting organisations are working together to increase access to the information they hold, read on…
The 2nd LODLAM Melbourne workshop, held 31st July, focused on place-names and ANZAC data. Around 20 participants attended from memory organisations, tertiary institutions and government departments.
The group agreed to share information on data subsets and investigate opportunities to share it – either as open data, or linked open data.
The LOD work being explored by the group sits within the context of the Victorian Government’s recently released IP Policy Intent and Principles whereby: “The State grants rights to its intellectual property, as a public asset, in a manner that maximises its impact, value, accessibility and benefit consistent with the public interest.”
Wills’s map from Coopers Creek to the Gulf of Carpentaria (detail), PROV, VPRS 8168/P2 Historic Plan Collection
PLACE NAME DATA
Rafe Benli, Office of Geographic Names (OGN), Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, gave a presentation on the VICNAMES database, the official repository for placenames including landscape features (mountains, rivers), bounded areas such as localities, towns and cities, and physical infrastructure such as roads, reserves and schools. VICNAMES has 200,000 records (commercial names are excluded), which feed into the Australian National Placenames Survey. OGN are upgrading the speed of the site, and will then publicise it, particularly to education groups. VICNAMES includes 3,000 records of Aboriginal names provided by VACL via bulk upload.
Alternative names for the same place have different IDs.
The entire VICNAMES data set can be downloaded as a CSD file.
VICNAMES data does not currently have an API or URI for each place name.
PLACENAME RELATED PROJECTS TO BE EXPORED FURTHER
OGN expressed interest in exploring how their historic data could be improved, and some organisations expressed interest in options for how their data subsets could be ingested (e.g. volunteers working on the PROV Wiki are tagging place-names, but it would not be feasible to submit the tags one by one, so bulk upload may be an option).
Interest was expressed by the group for OGN to provide additional export formats for VICNAMES data. This would enable engaging applications (such as overlaying historical maps with contemporary equivalents using dynamic access to VICNAMES data) to be developed and published to the web (see Neatline for a project ‘in the ilk of’)
It was noted that as memory organisations hold material from across Australia, it would be good to explore access to ANPS data, and check how comprehensive it is.
PLACENAMES: A DIBOLICAL PROBLEM
The complexity of describing/categorising place-name data due to its temporal and spatial nature and, therefore, finding a standardised approach was discussed. E.g. IDs for geo spatial elements such as latitude and longitude are categorised differently in Australia and internationally. The comment “some linked data is better than no linked data” was also made, acknowledging the value of taking small steps that are in line with each organisation’s needs.
OTHER PLACENAMES ACTIVITES NOTED
Talking about placeARC project to develop a novel, interdisciplinary approach to automatically interpret human place descriptions.
Victorian Groundwater Authorities are bringing data sets together to verify bore water sites via crowd sourcing. Has been low participation. SLV confirmed that they have had low uptake on crowd sourcing tagging of their maps.
PROV is digitising its rates records. Whilst these don’t provide spatial information they provide a statistical link to parish plans.
Okay, not a bee: an Owlet moth, Ludwig Becker, Dec. 31, 1860, State Library Victoria
HuNI AND THE APIDICTOR
HuNI is linking selected data sets from across domains. The aim is to develop interoperable data sets and a toolkit to enable non-current participants to link data. As such, the importance of user groups in driving the development process has been recognised. As each data set has developed in a silo, HuNI is starting from a point where there is no standardised vocab.
Conal Tuohy presented his Sweetener demo proof of concept (watch for the ‘blink and you miss it’ links that pop up in the left hand column), located on HuNI’s wiki and issue tracker Apidictor. The Sweetener demo utilises the People Australia biographical service’s Party ID (unique identifier) for individuals. An RDF file contains all the example content and describes the relationship between each item in a structure/graph/network, enabling pages to be constructed using collated data contained in nodes. XSL is used to convert the metadata into the required HTML.
HuNI may be able to provide specific tools to assist with the creation of unique identifiers. Also, if needed, HuNI could potentially provide advice on creating APIs following the Powerhouse Museum model.
Research undertaken by this group could possibly play a useful role in HuNI’s software development program.
Interested parties could explore a dump of a small number of records to generate them in Party Infrastructure. A Melbourne ANDS contact may be able to assist.
ANZAC Biscuit sent home as a postcard from Egypt 1916, Caulfield RSL Sub-Branch Inc
ANZAC COMMEMORATIVE MATERIAL
Rafe presented on the OGN’s ANZAC Commemorative Naming Project pilot. OGN is working with local government to enable the community to recognise local men and women who served in the ADF from WW1 to the present day by naming roads, features and localities in their honour.
ANZAC COMMEMORATIVE RELATED PROJECTS TO BE EXPORED FURTHER
Further discussion with the Australian and Auckland War Memorials.
It was noted that an ANZAC exhibitions and online network has been established to avoid duplication of commemorative activities amongst cultural organisations.
Auckland War Memorial’s Cenotaph database, a biographical database of New Zealanders who have served in the military. Data from AWM is massaged into RDF rich XML sitting in a triples store which is the graph data as basis. Has a Sparkl bases to send a query and get results from the triples. The Australian War Memorial is in discussion with the Auckland War memorial for sharing of data and crowd sourcing material.
The Muninn Project is a multidisciplinary, multinational, academic research project investigating millions of records pertaining to the WW1 in archives around the world. Muninn uses LOD to publish its processed, cleaned up, results. Munninn RDF server
On 30th July a collection of GLAM folks gathered at ACMI to talk shop, with a focus on ACMI’s Game Masters exhibition. Additional pizzaz was provided by Ed Rodley from the Boston Museum of Science and his wife Jennifer Hogue (we’ll miss you at the next one!).
Following presentations by the ACMI team, we did an exhibition walk-through (involving in no partciular order much pressing of buttons, dancing, 3D glasses-wearing and fruit slicing) and finished up chatting over food and drinks. For those of you who weren’t able to make it, here’s a quick overview of the presentations…
Sean Doyle talking about the technical development of ACMI's Game Masters exhibition.
TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENT: Sean Doyle, Macintosh Systems Administrator
USING PROTOTYPES: In planning implementation of Game Masters, ACMI drew on experience with smaller projects (particularly the Independent Games Festival exhibitions which toured to Sydney Opera House and The Edge at State Library of Queensland). Essentially the same model was used but multiplied by 10.
COLLABORATION TOOLS: Game Masters is a highly technological exhibition and collaborative management of information was required. A SharePoint project was established to manage the exhibition development cycle (concept, design, install, maintenance, touring) and various install elements such as technology & furniture. This allowed simultaneous read/write access by multiple staff, relatively easy information retrieval and report generation. Development of the SharePoint site will continue with an extranet version for access by touring partners.
COLLABORATION DURING DESIGN PROCESS: Inclusion of technical staff from the outset of the conceptual and design process assisted in creating a robust exhibition – essential for a touring exhibition. Having the various staff teams (exhibitions, collections, AV and ICT) work together from the early stages resulted in more efficient development and install, particularly important as the exhibition had complex requirements and was installed to a short time frame.
TESTING: A dedicated workshop space was provided to test the games before opening. This pre-testing resolved between 80-90% of technical issues (as one hour of testing prior to install typically saves 3-6 hours of problem solving on the floor after the installation). Pre-testing by Visitor Service staff also enabled close-to-final versions of “How to Play” documents being created, as well as familiarity with the games and technology prior to opening.
AND FINALLY… SHOW ME THE TECH: Over 125 playable games and over 1,000 ‘things’ on the exhibition floor including: PCs, PS3, PS2, iPads, LCDs, projectors, touchscreens, etc…. One of the more challenging aspects was managing the large number of software accounts.
Chris Harris talks about the curation of ACMI's Game Masters exhibition.
EXHIBITION CURATION: Chris Harris, Exhibitions Manager
Chris reiterated the positive outcomes of strong collaboration between the curatorial and technical teams.
The curatorial aim of the exhibition was to introduce the public to the largely unknown great game developers – the Game Masters – and to deepen understanding of games development. Locating video games and their art and makers in a museum context is important and legitimate for ACMI. This is why ACMI’s curatorial team chose to create in depth video interviews with each designer for the exhibition.
ACMI went to the gaming community to help identify the Game Masters featured. A long list was created with the help of the gaming community and the curatorial team then settled on a short list. The great games of those makers where then chosen, with technical limitations taken into account. Getting the developers on board to contribute items demonstrating their creative process was also vital to the success of the show.
Game Masters was a complex exhibition in terms of obtaining rights, but ultimately most issues were resolved. Classification was also an issue as the introduction of the R18+ rating occurred during exhibition installation. Classification also had to be considered during design as Game Masters is a family exhibition.
Jessica Beirne presented on ACMI's Game Masters Digital Program
BEIP COMPONENT: Jessica Beirne, Project Manager
The Game Masters Digital Program provides new ways to engage with the Game Masters exhibition using high-capacity broadband networks. Funded by the Department of Business and Innovation’s Broadband Enabled Innovation Program, the Digital Program extends the exhibition experience and enhances the appeal of the exhibition by making it available on-demand and in ways that are richly interactive and responsive to user needs and context of use.
Peta Knott relates some of the fascinating stories uncovered through publishing on Victorian Collections.
On Tuesday 5th June, the Mayor of Ballarat and over 40 participants from the Victorian Collections program celebrated the cataloguing of over 4,900 cultural treasures. The event was held at the Ballarat Fire Brigade, one of the many non-typical collecting organisations that have adopted Victorian Collections to care for and share their collection.
Members of the project team with the Mayor of Ballarat. From left to right: Peta Knott, Victorian Collections Project manager; Cr Mark Harris, Mayor of Ballarat; Laura Miles, Executive Director, MA (Vic), Forbes Hawkins, Technical Developer, Victorian Collections & Museum Victoria.
Victorian Collections www.victoriancollections.net.au is a free, easy to use, online cataloguing system developed by Museums Australia (Victoria) and Museum Victoria. It enables volunteers and museum staff to switch from manual to digital cataloguing in order to preserve and share our heritage. Over the past 12 months, the project has undertaken pilot training and consultation sessions with historical societies, RSLs, community collections and museums throughout Victoria. It was launched by Penny Hutchinson, Director of Arts Victoria, at the MA (Vic) State Conference in March 2012.
The celebration honoured the dedication of 165 organisations, including a large number from the Goldfields, who through their work have helped record and share Victoria’s significant cultural heritage. Peta Knott, Victorian Collections Project Manager, highlighted the variety of items that have been catalogued: from rare maps to a fire truck that began its life as Dame Nellie Melba’s saloon car.
Through the cataloguing process, organisations have uncovered family connections to objects, and gained knowledge about their collection via feedback from visitors. Making collections available online has also resulted in donations of like items and corrections of cataloguing records for items with minimal provenance.
“Connecting people in hands-on training for this online tool has produced fantastic results.” said Laura Miles, Executive Director, MA (Vic).
“Working with Museum Victoria’s technical experts on Victorian Collections has helped volunteers bring their collections and stories to a wider online audience. Museum Australia (Vic)’s dedicated museum training enables Victorian volunteers to take effective digital photographs and scans of precious items to both share them with the public today and preserve them for the future.”
Peta Knott with David Elms, Curator of the Ballarat Fire Brigade collection and CFA volunteer with a 1938 Dodge Fire Engine.
Several months ago we were contacted by Stacey Longstaff from Germany who wanted to donate his ancestor’s sword to an appropriate museum in the Portland area. We put Stacey in touch with the Glenelg Shire Cultural Collection team, who were excited to receive the offer of significant items to add to their collection. Glenelg Shire’s Cultural Collection Officer Trevor Smith tells the story:
“The immigrant ship Utopia sailed under a Captain Wilkinson arriving at Portland in 1854. Stacey Longstaff, Captain Wilkinson’s great-great-grandson now living in Germany had inherited several items with associations to the Utopia. These included Captain Wilkinson’s sword; a decorative cut-paper memorial card acknowledging Captain Wilkinson’s death from cholera in Calcutta in 1855; an 1854 insurance certificate for Utopia; and a ship’s cabinet reputed to have housed the ship’s log. With no direct descendants to pass these items on to, Mr. Longstaff was looking for a suitable future home for them.
“Mr Longstaff found Glenelg Shire’s museum listings on the Culture Victoria website. He contacted Eleanor at Culture Victoria who in turn contacted us, facilitating my communication with Mr Longstaff. He decided that Portland was an appropriate home for the objects and negotiations commenced to transfer them to Portland and for their subsequent donation to Glenelg Shire Council’s Cultural Collection.
“The items were sent in two consignments – the sword, card and certificate initially, and once they had arrived in Portland, Mr Longstaff forwarded the cabinet. All items were sent at his own expense. During the time the parcels were in transit, emails were sent back and forth between Mr Longstaff and myself as we tracked the progress of the parcels from Rahden, Northern Germany to Portland.”
Glenelg Shire's Trevor Smith holding Captain Wilkinson's Sword
Utopia was one of the 37 ships that brought assisted immigrants to Portland in the 1850s. From 1851 to 1857, 11,395 immigrants first set foot on Australian soil at Portland.
Arriving in Portland Bay on January 25, 1854, Captain Wilkinson was publicly praised by the passengers for the safe and speedy passage aboard the Utopia to Australia. Three testimonials written by the passengers appeared in the Portland Guardian on January 26.
Also, making the Utopia’s arrival in Portland a memorable event, 13 of crew deserted ship and headed for the Victorian goldfields. Only two were captured by the local mounted police near Mount Clay, north of Portland. During the 83 day passage from Liverpool (UK) to Portland there were 5 births and 5 deaths aboard Utopia.
The sword, certificate and memorial card will be exhibited at Portland’s History House in Cliff Street in a revamp of the display relating to assisted immigration into Portland in the 1850s. The ship’s cabinet will undergo conservation treatment before going on public display.
“This has been a thoroughly interesting and rewarding process, and Mr Longstaff has been extremely generous, and helpful all along the way,” said Trevor.
Here at Culture Victoria, we are happy our website has been able to play a role in facilitating the initial contact between Mr Longstaff and the Glenelg Shire team.
White-bellied Sea Eagle, Silvester Diggles, printed 1877. From the State Library of Victoria collection.
and the environments in which they live:
Mornington 1968, Fred WILLIAMS. From the National Gallery of Victoria Collection. Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of the H. J. Heinz II Charitable and Family Trust, Governor, and the Utah Foundation, Fellow, 1980.
BirdLife Australia has just published a second story about the Swift Parrot: The Wing Thing: Woodland Birds which includes more beautiful items from our cultural collections, a range of education resources, animations by Donna Kendrigan and a short video that takes you inside Museum Victoria’s Mount Room, which holds over 3,500 different species of bird.
If you know some young creative types, they can enter The Wing Thing Art Extravaganza, an arts-based conservation competition.
Mia Ridge being in town provided the initial impetus to organise a Melbourne LODLAM event. On April 17th apx 35 people from a range of sectors, including memory organisations, tertiary institutions and government departments gathered at the Melbourne Museum. It was a lively session and concluded with agreement to continue discussions focused on 2 LODLAM projects: place names and World War 1.
The following write-up is from notes taken by Ely Wallis (@elyw) and myself Eleanor Whitworth (@elewhitworth).
With a focus on practical and pragmatic applications and opportunities for sectors to work together we started with a series of lightning talks.
Mia (@mia_out) opened with an overview of LOD & LODLAM, including ‘quick wins’ and common issues. We noted in particular:
The importance of being clear with others in your organisation about what it is you are making available – the metadata or the content – to alleviate concerns.
Just making your metadata freely available is a good start, especially if copyright issues prevent you from making images available.
Re licensing, make the data available for reuse with no licensing requirements so there’s no need to go back and negotiate a license with the source organisation. And, in terms of openness vs usefulness, allow commercial re-use to enable external developers to meet user’s needs (in ways your organisation may not be resourced to do).
Discussion following Mia’s talk included a question about releasing data and crowdsourcing corrections for it. Mia noted the need to consider how the corrected data will be ingested back into the collection management system. In response to a second question on how APIs square with LOD, Mia commented that the downside to APIs is that it’s difficult to include all the links to authority files and vocabularies. So, they’re good for sharing data between local data stores, but often semantic linking is lost in the transfer.
Mia’s talk notes can be found here, and a LODLAM reading list here.
Peter Neish, Systems Officer, Victorian Parliamentary Library, (@peterneish) talked about the use of OpenCalais to automatically tag media releases harvested from websites. Peter noted that as OpenCalais is a Thompson Rueters product and uses its own (media company) ontology, it has a good vocabulary for media personalities but not so good for historical people, or Australian places or events. Peter noted the tagging has been relatively good with 85% of them being usable and useful. There was a suggestion in the discussion that followed that an Australian version of OpenCalais might be in development by Fairfax Media and Macquarie University, but we couldn’t find any references to it… Peter’s slides are up on Slideshare: Semantic Web Technologies at the Victorian Parliamentary Library.
Helen Morgan, Research Fellow, eScholarship Research Centre, The University of Melbourne, talked about “Linked Dead Data” and how well-formed URLs in websites, authority files etc can be useful research tools. The e-Research centre has developed the Online Heritage Resource Manager which includes a variety of public knowledge resources, including the Encyclopedia of Australian Sciences, the Australian Women’s Register & the Australian Trade Union Archive. Whilst these online archives return some dead links giving 404 errors, the Wayback Machine and Pandora are useful resources for researchers to track back. Helen noted that the whole link is the core of citation, and that shortened links, whilst they serve a purpose (e.g. on Twitter), are hard to keep discoverable as there’s nothing in the shortened link that gives a clue to what the long URL might have been.
In the discussion that followed, Forbes Hawkins @forbeshawkins suggested that we think about styling dead links up front (eg. flag that the link is dead and direct the user to the Wayback machine or Pandora) to assist users. It was also noted in the discussion that it is important to keep the context of data in order to not pre-empt what the user may want from the data.
Conal Tuohy, eResearch Business Analyst, Victorian eResearch Strategic Initiative ( @conal_tuohy) presented on the Humanities Networked Infrastructure (HuNI, pronounced honey) project. Following some ‘sweet’ jokes, Conal outlined how the HuNI consortium is setting up virtual laboratories and making a range of data sets available from providers at different institutions, with different subject domains, hosted on different software platforms with various levels of LOD-ness. As a lot of HuNI providers have their own vocabularies, a large part of the work will be mapping. Conal’s slides are up on Slideshare: HuNI
Adam Bell, Manager Web Production, Australian War Memorial (@bumphead) outlined how the AWM is planning to set up a rich semantic tool with a focus on the WW1 centenary and is working with web scientists (eg at the CSIRO) as well as the cultural sector to work through the issues. They are also versioning ontologies and using the building of ontologies to get librarians and archivists involved. Adam noted that Drupal has good taxonomy tools and that they use it as a proxy to other services. The AWM is also looking at ways to make their website more social. Adam noted that whilst these social aspects (eg. richer faceting and better ways to encourage people to explore the site and find information about their relatives) are not strictly LOD, LOD helps to achieve these functionalities for users.
A SURPRISE VISIT
A spontaneous international drop-in by Jon Voss and Simon Sherrin via Skype provided the perfect lead-in to the general discussion…
Jon Voss and Simon Sherrin
Jon put forward the following:
You need to have open data before you have linked open data.
Make your metadata open if you can’t make your content open.
Link where you can.
There are international LOD projects around WW1 and the Olympics underway.
Ely summarised the commonly expressed issues in the session as being: dead links, sensitivity re clean/messy data and managing ontologies and vocabularies.
Mia noted that it’s great to have a place to go to ask questions and find out how others solved these issues, and that Europeana has provided this critical mass, but that a local group may be useful.
There was a general discussion around the treatment of Indigenous material (eg. the importance of systems to control access). Mia noted that Australia is in a good position to lead other regions such as Europe in this area.
WHERE TO FROM HERE
It was agreed to continue a Victorian meet-up with a focus on 2 projects:
1) Place names: State Library of Victoria has digitised a range of Victorian parish maps. These could be mined for place names. The AWM is using a geonames service to build place names into an ontology and could share this.
2) WW1: Share information and look at opportunities to link WW1 data.
Eleanor will facilitate a follow-up meeting. If you’d like to be involved contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or @elewhitworth
A Twitter discussion between Claudine Chionh @claudinec and Mia nicely summed up the morning: #lodlam links people too!